Zen Buddhism

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Option 1—Zen Meditation

Before beginning option 1, read the following online article, Zen Meditation: The Seat of Enlightenment at https://zmm.mro.org/teachings/meditation-instructions/

Now, I want you to attempt the Zen Meditation exercises by following the instructions from the website. If you have to change the “rules” to coincide with your acrobatic abilities, that is perfectly fine.

After practicing the meditation for ten minutes on three different days, describe your experience.  Tell the reader about every minute of the experience.  Describe your breathing or even your struggle and your way to Satori, or the Zen term for enlightenment.  Do not give up. Become your own Zen master!

Option 2—Koan

A koan is a question a Zen Master might give his pupil as a “technique for attaining awareness” and as a mental exercise that might lead the pupil toward satori (enlightenment).

Choose a koan from the list below and meditate on the situation or circumstance for an entire day. When you are alone in your car, meditate on the koan. When you are walking to your office, meditate on the koan. Before you sleep at night, meditate on the koan. Let it consume you.

Then, copy/paste the koan into the discussion board for the reader to see. (The koan itself does not count toward the 250 word requirement.)

Next, explain the meaning of the koan and how it pertains to Zen Buddhism and your life experience.

Finally, construct a Koan for your classmates to answer. The Koan should ask a question in the traditional Zen fashion. Hopefully, your classmates will find an answer.

Example of a Koan: How do you make a long line shorter without touching it?

Sample Koans and Their Answers

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Koan 1

Tanzen and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling. Coming around the bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection. “Come on girl”, said Tanzen at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud. Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzen, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?” “I left the girl there,” said Tanzen. “Are you still carrying her?”

Koan 2

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain zen master. Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a letter, insisting on a private meeting. Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written her, she said, “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

Koan 3

A monk asked Tozen when he was weighing some flax, “What is Buddha?”

Tozen said, “This flax weighs three pounds.

Koan 4

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?

The monk replied, “I have eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.

Koan 5

A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked, “Is there really a paradise and a hell?”

“Who are you?”, asked Hakuin.

“I am a samurai.”, the warrior replied.

You, a soldier!”, exclaimed Hakuin. “What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar.”

Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued, “So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head.”

As Nobushige drew his sword, Hakuin remarked, “Here open the gates of hell!”

At these words, the samurai, perceiving the master’s discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.

“Here open the gates of paradise.”, said Hakuin.

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Koan 6

Nan-in received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup”, Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Koan 7

One day Akbar drew a line with his royal hand on the floor of the open court and told his wise men that if they wanted to keep heir jobs they must make the line shorter without touching any part of it.

Wise man after wise man approached and stood staring at the puzzle, but they were unable to solve the problem.

Finally Birbal stepped forward and drew a longer line next to the first one, without touching the first line.

Everyone in the court look at it and agreed. The first line was definitely shorter.

Koan 8

Sen no Rikyu, a tea-master, wished to hang a flower basket on a column. He asked a carpenter to help him, directing the man to place it a little higher or lower, to the right or left, until he found exactly the right spot. “That’s the place,” said Sen no Rikyu finally.

The carpenter, to test the master, marked the spot and then pretended he had forgotten. “Was this the place, perhaps?” the carpenter kept asking pointing to various points on the column.

But so accurate was the tea-master’s sense of proportion that it was not until the carpenter reached the identical spot again that its location was approved.

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Koan 9

Buddha told a parable in a sutra:

A man travelling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming at a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed after him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw on the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

Koan 10

Nasreddin had a leaky ferry-boat, and used it to row people across the river. One day his passenger was a fussy schoolteacher, and on the way across he decided to give Nasreddin a test and see how much he knew.

“Tell me, Nasreddin, what are eight sixes?”

“I’ve no idea.”

“How do you spell magnificence?”

“I don’t.”

“Didn’t you study anything at school?”

“No.”

“In that case, half your life is lost.”

Just then a fierce storm blew up, and the boat began to sink.

“Tell me, schoolteacher,” said Nasreddin. “Did you ever learn to swim?”

“No.”

“In that case, your whole life is lost.” For more information on Zen Buddhism check out : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

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