Mayka,  (by the way, speaking of misspellings, I have a hard time not spelling 
your name as ‘Makya’ – I don’t know why that is.  I actually had to add the 
proper spelling of your name to my Spellchecker to make sure I get it right…)


You ask very good questions and I’ll try to answer:




I have a question:


If the goal of the koans is to lead the student to the non discriminative mind 
and to drop the thinking, what is the point of giving such a nonsense koans 
that leads to more entanglement in the mind?.

[Bill!] The short answer to your question is the discriminating mind needs to 
be entangled so that it can no longer function.

The purpose of a koan is indeed to assist in stopping the activities of the 
discriminating mind.  This is the mind that creates all illusions, but most 
fundamentally the illusion of duality – self/not-self (or other).

The way a koan does this is to give your discriminating, rational mind 
something to work on that is non-logical.  Something that cannot be reasoned 
out.  You (your discriminating mind) tries and tries, and finally gives up and 
shuts down.  This could be because it gets frustrated or tired or maybe just 
bored – I don’t know why really, but I know from experience this can finally 
happen.  When it does happen and all thinking stops, Buddha Mind appears - or 
perhaps ‘is revealed’ is better since Buddha Mind was there all the time but in 
the background, being obscured by the much more active, attention-grabbing 
discriminating mind.

  Is it no much more simple and easier to just sit down and breath in awareness 
of the in and out breathing?.  In a way that everytime a thought, sensation, 
mental formation, any kind of distraction...arises one goes back to the 
awareness of the breathing.

[Bill!] Yes, this is much more simpler and direct.  This is the usual teaching 
advice of Soto Zen.  What you are describing is exactly how a zen master would 
instruct you to sit shikantaza (clear mind).  The more you practice what you’ve 
described, the less often thoughts arise and the more clear mind (Buddha Mind) 

If you use ‘getting wet’ as a simile for ‘enlightenment’ or ‘awareness of 
Buddha Mind’, I’ve heard the differences between the use of teaching of just 
shikantaza and the use of koans to be this:

-          Soto Zen and shikantaza is like being lead out into a peaceful 
garden and left to walk around in a soft mist or very gentle rain.  You get wet 
so gradually you don’t even notice it until you come inside and someone points 
it out to you.

-          Renzai Zen and koan study is like someone giving you a little puzzle 
to solve, and then while you’re working on it they sneak up behind you and push 
you into a lake.  You’re immediately soaked and come up out of the water 
gasping for air and wondering ‘what just happened to me?’.  The experience is 
then smoothed out and more fully integrated with further koan study. 

  Hope this helps answer your questions…Bill!


--- On Sat, 9/10/10, <> wrote:

From: <>
Subject: RE: [Zen] New member.
Date: Saturday, 9 October, 2010, 2:17




I’ve studied under both Renzai and Soto masters.  Generally speaking, Renzai 
uses koans and Soto only shikantaza (clear-mind meditation).  The culmination 
of both teachings is shikantaza.  Koans are just teaching techniques or tools 
used to help you stop your discriminating mind so you can be clearly aware of 
Buddha Nature.


Some Soto schools do, however, employ koans.  The teacher I ended my formal 
training with had teaching credentials (Inca) from masters in both Soto and 
Renzai schools.   He tailored his teaching techniques according to the student. 
 Since I started with his Renzai master and began koan study with him, he 
continued to use koan study with me all throughout my training. 


To what ‘slaps’ are you referring?   I didn’t read about any ‘slaps’ to a lady 
in the koan that was posted a couple days ago. 




From: [] On Behalf Of 
Maria Lopez
Sent: Saturday, October 09, 2010 4:19 AM
Subject: RE: [Zen] New member.



Thanks Jody.  Doesn't the Soto tradition uses koans?.


Should be understood them that slaps the lady received in the koan given,  were 
defectuos because nobody can awake anybody else except for oneselves?





--- On Fri, 8/10/10, Jody W. Ianuzzi <> wrote:

From: Jody W. Ianuzzi <>
Subject: RE: [Zen] New member.
Date: Friday, 8 October, 2010, 17:10 


Hello Mayka,

It is my understanding that Soto Zen is just about sitting and Renzei Zen is
about koans.

When the Roshi slaps a student in Renzei it is not punishment it is to wake
them up and bring them to the moment. The student bows in gratitude for the


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