Results 1 to 23 of 23

Thread: Asked and answered

  1. #1

    Asked and answered

    "There's an old story about a great king, King Malinda and a famous monk, the Venerable Nagasena. The king said, "I'm going to pose a question. Can you answer?" The monk said, "Please ask your question." The king said, "I've already asked." The monk responded, "I've already answered." Then the king said, "What did you answer?" Nagasena countered, "What did you ask?" The king said, "I've asked nothing." And the monk replied, "I've answered nothing."

    ― Gerry Shishin Wick, The Book of Equanimity

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    Sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  2. #2
    “Is the word given, Admiral? The word is given.”

  3. #3
    What on earth is going on?
    Can someone explain it, please?!

    Gassho
    Mags
    ST

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    What on earth is going on?
    Can someone explain it, please?!

    Gassho
    Mags
    ST
    The king asks for a demonstration of emptiness. The monk shows him emptiness.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    “Is the word given, Admiral? The word is given.”
    I see you

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    I see you

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    yes!!!!!!!

  7. #7
    Thank you!
    I am still baffled by it because it makes no sense whatsoever to me, but at least I know what it refers to.

    Gassho,
    Mags
    ST

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    Thank you!
    I am still baffled by it because it makes no sense whatsoever to me, but at least I know what it refers to.
    you've got it! the sense IS that it makes no sense...



    aprapti

    sat

    Let silence take you to the core of life (Rumi)


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  9. #9
    This may be the zen version of Monty Python's "The Argument Clinic."

    Gassho
    STlah
    Shoki
    Last edited by Shoki; 02-28-2021 at 03:05 PM.

  10. #10
    This koan and the answers really hit me; it's weird the power that the sangha has.

    Mags, not to kill the joke, but I responded with a back and forth dialogue from Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan that relates to this koan. An ensign is dying and asks (then Admiral) Kirk for permission to die. Kirk gives his permission. But just like with this koan, there is something asked but in no need of asking and something given with no need of being given.

    Zen is a big joke in this manner; this is not a new idea of course. We often times, myself included, come to practice because there is a deep existential burning that we may not be fully conscious of yet draws us to a spiritual (yes I said it) practice. So we are vulnerable when we enter the gate of practice (so to speak). And that's why these reprehensible "schools" that prey on that weakness are very infuriating, but that's a side topic.

    At the end of the day, we are here to support each other's practice under the guidance of a Teacher who is more like an example to keep us grounded. Just like in the koan, where the monk asks for some secret sauce of this practice and Joshu says go clean your bowl. That's the type of grounding we need. That's why real zazen is grounded in the precepts. If we come here for the heady philosophical stuff (which I also love) alone, then that's not practice. The precepts are the real "jewel" of practice.

    Emptiness is an important concept, but it's not a concept. When I first heard about emptiness - I heard the classic "empty" of self-existence or permanence, silence, nothingness, etc. I just trusted that and set it down and kept practicing. I may be biased but, hands down, imho the best definition of emptiness I've come across is Jundo Roshi's dance. Emptiness is not some thing. It is what you are. It is a doing, a becoming. It's not some fixed idea that we can tuck away neatly into our ideological view of how things are.

    But we need to have concepts because it's how our brain functions. That is the fundamental need of practice; it allows us to stop all the crazy and to listen and watch and wait. We are just sitting, not trying to get anything. We are just dancing without any distraction.

    I know I'm going long, but this really hit me, and I will sit extra. I think about my life, and the universe. We are all expressions of the universe. Think about that.

    I feel like Zen practice is basically saying: Hey you; you are the universe; behave like it!

    Think about Earth; how many millions of years it's been around; how many things have to go just right for it to support life. Now think of your body and how many inner workings there are to make you, you. And think about how that doesn't have to be the case.

    Why do we live in a universe with laws including cause and effect?

    Why do we have consciousness at all?

    How is it that we can perceive stuff and color and smell if we are lucky enough?

    That is what zen is - it brings us to a point where our answers are more questions.

    Hopefully it takes us from a self-centered egotistical view to a view of utter awe, reverence and gratitude.

    Really stop and think how incredible this is!

    That is emptiness - all of this horrible, wonderful dancing. That is how we drink a mountain in a teacup (to paraphrase Jundo Roshi).

    It is incredible - it is literally indescribable which is why so many people have to use crazy talk to try to explain it to get you to think in that manner... to just get you on that path so you can drop the training wheels and ride your bike free realizing what you had all along - what we all have.

    The more I practice - the more I realize I have to do the practice, but it is not for me.

    Again - this can get heady but it's not; it's exceptionally practical, and that's why the precepts and our lives lived out of that view of emptiness reinforce how practical it is.

    This is the way things are.

    If you look at the precepts, they are like a string of pearls. When you pick one up, say the one against anger, you are picking up the whole string. You can focus on what it means to not give way to anger, but when you do that you are practicing all of the precepts.

    Similarly - when you stop believing your clouded thoughts for a moment you can taste this dance and realize that you had it all along - even though you came asking and you may have gotten answers - you both asked and answered something you already knew, but it's like you woke up from a dream.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

    PS Apologies for going over

  11. #11
    It can take some time to be ok with the urge to intellectually understand these exchanges. They can be skillful means for someone who is ready to let the words go, but they can also be frustrating for newcomers to Zen who aren't yet "in" on the joke, so if you are one of those, just read the wonderful explanations here and then let it go and trust that it will make more "right-brained sense" later. Even those of us who grok it to some extent need to practice with the lesson continually.

    Gassho,
    Jakuden
    SatToday
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  12. #12
    Hmmm. Such stories are not really "illogical," but it is more that the "logic" of Zen and the Mahayana (in which a mountain is not a tea cup, is not you ... yet each is/are precisely each other and the whole thing too) is not our usual logic and way of encountering the world. Also, these Koan stories use joking and poetic references as was typical of Chinese erudite philosophic and literary discourse back in the day, not unlike how current Brooklyn hipsters might use irony, Simpsons memes and references to obscure alternative band lyrics in their deep philosophical conversations in coffee houses.

    So, this story is not really so hard to understand if we note a couple of points ...

    "There's an old story about a great king, King Malinda and a famous monk, the Venerable Nagasena. The king said, "I'm going to pose a question. Can you answer?" The monk said, "Please ask your question." The king said, "I've already asked." The monk responded, "I've already answered." Then the king said, "What did you answer?" Nagasena countered, "What did you ask?" The king said, "I've asked nothing." And the monk replied, "I've answered nothing."
    When we step beyond and through "subject vs. object," self vs. not-self, who (subject) is there to ask a question (object) and get an answer (another separate object)? In fact what "king" separate from "monk"? If there is no question apart, then what can be asked, who to ask it, who else to hear an answer?

    There are no separate "things" thus "no thing" for each and all is empty of separate self ... which, for the Zen Buddhist is EVERYTHING, all things and the kitchen sink!

    In fact, beyond subject and object, thoughts of "this vs. that," how can we even speak of past vs. present vs. future? In that case, WHEN could one ask such a question if there is not even a separate "now" to stand in contrast to "not now"?

    Dogen liked to use interrogatory words (what, who, how etc. ) as DECLARTIONS or EXCLAMATIONS! He might say, in some of his writings, not "what is that question?" but rather, "WHAT is the question!!!" ... or "WHO is asking!!!" ... something like the exclamations "what" of "Hey, What ya know 'bout that!!!" or "WHAT the heck!!!" and "That's the Whose WHO!!!" They are pronoun signifiers for something that cannot easily have a name placed upon it.

    A similar Koan is the one about Bodhidharma and Emperor Wu. The Emperor asked Bodhidharma, "Who are you," and Bodhidharma replied "I don't know." That does not mean that Bodhidharma was a fool, or did not know his own name. Neither does it mean, as it is sometimes interpreted, that Bodhidharma was content in his ignorance. Rather, it means that there is no "I" to know something separate. Thus, there was absolute KNOWING right through "I" and "something apart to be known," Bodhidharma vs. separate emperors. There is only KNOWING that KNOWS KNOWING.

    Of course, this is what we encounter in Zazen as we sit on our Zafu ... no "we" and no "Zafu" apart, nor the whole world.

    Sorry to run long.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-01-2021 at 12:35 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    “I don’t know.”

    “He’s on third.”

    Abbot and Costello were zen masters.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    Sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ryumon View Post
    “I don’t know.”

    “He’s on third.”

    Abbot and Costello were zen masters.

    Gassho,

    Ryūmon

    Sat
    For those who might not catch the reference ... either some outside the US, or too young (not remembering the good old days of comedy )



    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-01-2021 at 12:31 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    Thank you!
    I am still baffled by it because it makes no sense whatsoever to me, but at least I know what it refers to.

    Gassho,
    Mags
    ST
    You have to take it in the context in which it is said. Since this is in a Zen forum the topic may be emptiness. Questions give rise to answers. A question creates duality if it is answered in a western type of way. For example, “who is is on first?”can be asking what is the name of the person who is on first base but in the story given the answer to the question is the question. “Who” is on first. “Who” is the name of the player on first base. The king asks, then the monk tries to figure out if it is a duality or a singularity question. The king says it is a singularity question and the monk answer the singularity answer (question=answer). In emptiness there are no questions and answers, there is just...

    My 2 cents.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    You have to take it in the context in which it is said. Since this is in a Zen forum the topic may be emptiness. Questions give rise to answers. A question creates duality if it is answered in a western type of way. For example, “who is is on first?”can be asking what is the name of the person who is on first base but in the story given the answer to the question is the question. “Who” is on first. “Who” is the name of the player on first base. The king asks, then the monk tries to figure out if it is a duality or a singularity question. The king says it is a singularity question and the monk answer the singularity answer (question=answer). In emptiness there are no questions and answers, there is just...

    My 2 cents.

    Gassho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    In the Mahayana, 1st base is 2nd and 3rd base is the outfield is home plate. The ball fully contains the whole stadium, and every seat holds all the spectators. One hits the ball, runs to the pitcher's mound, 5th base, the hot dog stand, parking lot and into the locker room ... an ALWAYS-AT-HOME RUN all the way. No place to go, nothing to get, no pitcher, no batter and no field.

    Nonetheless, also, 1st base is 1st base, not 2nd or 3rd. 3rd Base is 3rd base, not 1st or second. One hits the ball and runs clockwise, not any other way.

    Play Ball!

    (A modern baseball Koan)

    Capping Phrase: Bases are loaded, bottom of the ninth, score tied.

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 03-01-2021 at 01:30 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  17. #17

  18. #18
    There's no (c)tying in baseball

    Gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai View Post
    There's no (c)tying in baseball

    Gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    Okay, that's another Koan. What's "(c)tying" ??

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  20. #20
    Vague reference to "a League of there own" Coach Tom Hanks tells third baseman 'There's no crying in Baseball'
    OK so it's a weak pun with a silent "c"

    Trully good movie tho, probably my third best after "summer of 42" and "Mr. Baseball" Oops, maybe forth if you count "Life of Brian"

    gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  21. #21
    Thank you all who answered: I read your answers and with humility I retire to my chamber. I have lots to learn, when it comes to koans I just get irritated because some look quite stupid or pointless (like this one) to me. But I realised it is because of my ignorance and fear (literally... I ignore how to take koans and I get scared because I don't want to look stupid) that I don't even try understanding them.

    Gassho,
    Mags
    ST

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    have lots to learn
    Yes!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Margherita View Post
    when it comes to koans I just get irritated because some look quite stupid or pointless (like this one) to me. But I realised it is because of my ignorance and fear (literally... I ignore how to take koans and I get scared because I don't want to look stupid) that I don't even try understanding them.
    YES!!!!!

    me too on all of the above. I used to get that way, especially with Dogen. But it's ok - just keep reading it and studying and most importantly sitting. That's what it means to "just sit with". When we come upon things in our practice that are difficult, it's ok; just keep going.

    Jakuden nailed this:
    It can take some time to be ok with the urge to intellectually understand these exchanges. They can be skillful means for someone who is ready to let the words go, but they can also be frustrating for newcomers to Zen who aren't yet "in" on the joke, so if you are one of those, just read the wonderful explanations here and then let it go and trust that it will make more "right-brained sense" later. Even those of us who grok it to some extent need to practice with the lesson continually.
    We are all beginners.

    Gassho

    Risho
    -stlah

  23. #23
    Thanks, Risho

    Gassho,
    Mags ST

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •