Siska,

A koan doesn’t have to be either historical or a story.  Current zen teachers 
very frequently create a koan especially tailored to address what they feel are 
inadequacies of a particular students.  These probably wouldn't be delivered in 
story form.  They are usually delivered as a question (What is X?) or a request 
(Show me Y.).  You don't read much about these because they are a very personal 
communication between the teacher and student.

The koans generally referred to are historical stories, accounts of the actions 
especially interactions of historical zen masters.  The two most referenced 
works containing koans such as these are THE GATELESS GATE and THE BLUE CLIFF 
RECORD.

The quality that makes a koan a koan is that it is a direct expression of 
Buddha Nature.

...Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of 
siska_...@yahoo.com
Sent: Sunday, November 21, 2010 10:18 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

  
Hi Anthony, Bill,

I'd be surprised if it has to be historically accurate to be a koan. 

Come to think about it, what makes a story (or perhaps a saying) a koan then?

siska
________________________________________
From: <billsm...@hhs1963.org> 
Sender: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Date: Fri, 19 Nov 2010 16:13:53 +0700
To: <Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com>
ReplyTo: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

  
Siska,
 
I don’t mean to jump in for Anthony, but I’d like to respond to this too.
 
Koans are like any other historical or even ancient writings.  This includes 
the Bible.  No one really knows whether the stories are really true, or mostly 
true or a compilation of several different occurrences in to one event or 
attributed to one person.

 
For most stories like these it really doesn’t matter if they’re really true or 
not (unless you’re a fundamentalist 
Buddhist/Christian/Muslim/Fill-in-the-Blank).  The story is a teaching tool and 
its historical accuracy is not really the point.
 
…Bill!
 
From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of 
siska_...@yahoo.com
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 7:55 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas
 
  
Hi Anthony,

I previously thought most, if not all, koans are made up stories instead of 
real events. They are not?

siska
________________________________________
From: Anthony Wu <wu...@yahoo.com.sg> 
Sender: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Date: Thu, 18 Nov 2010 05:30:31 +0800 (SGT)
To: <Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com>
ReplyTo: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas
 
  
The story of buddha holding up a flower was cooked up by a zen fan, out of thin 
air. Nevertheless, it is a good story. I like it.
 
Anthony

--- On Wed, 17/11/10, billsm...@hhs1963.org <billsm...@hhs1963.org> wrote:

From: billsm...@hhs1963.org <billsm...@hhs1963.org>
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Date: Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 11:29 AM
  
Siska,

A koan that immediately comes to mind:

Buddha Holds up a Flower, Case 6 - GATELESS GATE:

“Once in ancient times, when the World-Honored One was at Mount Grdhrakuta 
(Vulture Peak), he held up a flower, twirled it, and showed it to the 
assemblage.

At this, they all remained silent. Only the venerable Kashyapa broke into a 
smile.

The World-Honored One said: “I have the eye treasury of the true Dharma, the 
marvelous mind of nirvana, the true form of no-form, the subtle gate of the 
Dharma. It does not depend on letters, being especially transmitted outside of 
all teachings. Now I entrust Mahakashyapa with this.””

This koan shows the fundamentals of zen communication, and actually sets out in 
clear language that this communication “…does not depend on letters…” and that 
it is “…outside of all teachings.”. 

Two other examples of how this communication is used of particular interest are 
two koans, both attributed to Nansen:

Ordinary Mind is the Way, Case 19 – GATELESS GATE

“Joshu earnestly asked Nansen, “What is the Way?” Nansen answered, “The 
ordinary mind is the Way.” …”

Knowing is Not the Way, Case 34 – GATELESS GATE

“Nansen said, “Mind is not Buddha; knowing is not the Way.”

Do you have some Sufi stories that you’d like to share?

Thanks…Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of 
siska_...@yahoo.com
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 6:43 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Hi Bill,

Actually one of the things that raised my interest in Zen is koans.

> Don’t try to ‘understand’ the koans.

That explains why I never really understand what the koans are trying to tell. 
Yet I don't care, I just like them. Some say koans are not to be interpreted 
and analysed. I quite agree as the interpretations can sometimes be rather 
absurd.

> Just observe (through reading) the communication techniques

I don't really get this. You mean something like the pond and frog example?

Siska
________________________________________
From: <billsm...@hhs1963.org> 
Sender: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010 17:05:11 +0700
To: <Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com>
ReplyTo: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Siska,

I believe face-to-face contact is the best medium. This can include language, 
utterances, gestures and of course also silence. I suggest you read some koans 
and especially pay attention at how the principals in the koans communicated 
with each other. Don’t try to ‘understand’ the koans. Just observe (through 
reading) the communication techniques.

…Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of 
siska_...@yahoo.com
Sent: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 8:02 AM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Hi Bill,

The problem with language is not only that it is dualistic, but also that it 
relies heavily in words that are full with perceptions.

Makes me wonder then, what is the good medium to communicate direct experience?

Siska
________________________________________
From: <billsm...@hhs1963.org> 
Sender: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Date: Mon, 15 Nov 2010 23:27:07 +0700
To: <Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com>
ReplyTo: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Lluis,

Just THIS! is before language. I assume what Chomsky is referring to as
'metalanguage' is just pattern recognition which is a function of our
discriminating mind. When this function is applied to language I guess it
could be called 'metalanguage' since it is an attribute that must be present
to learn language. It would also make sense that this 'metalanguage' could
be the foundation for grammar, although I still assert that grammar is an
attempt to cram language into a nice, neat logical framework - and as we all
know it doesn't actually fit very well. In any language there are a lot of
exceptions to grammatical rules, and that is because the rules (logical
structure) do not spring from the language itself, but are imposed upon it.

So I think, from the way you described Chomsky's theory of language and
'metalanguage', that I disagree.

I also disagree with your statement below that '...direct experience...is
something that could not be communicated.' It certainly can be
communicated, although language is not a very good medium for that precisely
because most languages are dualistically-based.

I haven't read any Sufi tales, but from the way you described them they
sound a lot like zen koans. And if that's the case they aren't meant to be
'understood' - they are meant to communicate direct experience. As you say
later in the paragraph, 'No way to explain...When the moment arrives, it is
there.'

...Bill! 

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Of Lluís Mendieta
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 10:03 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Hi, Bill

Well, I am just a chemist, not a linguist.
But I have been teached the metalanguage theory of Chomsky: all languages
have a subjacent grammar that brain understand, process and implement,
making this way that children could produce perfect phrases that they have
never heard before.
So, the metalanguage exists before it is placed in the form of grammar.
Grammar would be the verbalization of the metalanguage. Not after language.
Just the language (or just this)

The direct experience I feel that is something that could not be
communicated.
Would be maybe like the sufi tales: if you do not understand them, they are
not for you.
You feel (even beeing dualistic, I know, but I could not place in other
way), or you feel not.
No way to explain. No way to shre. Whe moment arrives, is there.

Or maybe I am just a plain brick, very far from awareness

With best wishes

Lluís

P.D.: the non dualistic form of the haiku, at least in spanish 
Rana
Charco
Chop!

would be the lazy westerner form of : there is a frog, and a pond, and the
frog makes plop (or my mind works this way, at least)

----- Original Message ----- 
From: billsm...@hhs1963.org 
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2010 4:42 AM
Subject: !QRE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Lluis,

I’m not saying that Westerners, in fact all humans that manifest a
dualistic, discriminating mind, are tied to subject/object and verbs that
describe action. That’s a given.

What I’m saying is that there are forms of English (and I suppose other
languages) that are utterances free from subject/object/verb, that are not
restricted by grammar.

In the example phrases I used below: ‘Hungry!’ and ‘Fire!’, YOU are the one
who is interjecting the dualism. If I yell ‘Fire!’ or ‘Duck!’ you will
first just equate the sound to DANGER and react BEFORE you mentally
reconstruct and augment the sound to ‘I have observed a fire and want to be
sure you are aware of it.’

Other non-exclamatory examples are in poetry, especially zen-inspired haikus
such as Basho's famous haiku in which he attempted to communicate a DIRECT
EXPERIENCE (Buddha Mind) he had. There are many attempts at translating
this haiku, and the results show me whether or not the translator was
translating with his/her discriminating mind or Buddha Mind:

ORIGINAL JAPANESE

Furu ike ya
kawazu tobikomu
mizu no oto (Basho)

DUALISTIC/DISCRIMINATING MIND TRANSLATION

There once was a curious frog
Who sat by a pond on a log
And, to see what resulted,
In the pond catapulted
With a water-noise heard round the bog. (Alfred H. Marks)

MIX OF DUALISTIC/DISCRIMINATING MIND AND BUDDHA MIND TRANSLATION

Into the ancient pond
A frog jumps
Water’s sound! (D.T. Suzuki)

BUDDHA MIND TRANSLATION

pond
frog
plop! (James Kirkup)

Remember when I posted about what I describe as 'zen talk' and 'talking
about zen'? The first translation above is 'talking about an experience'.
The second is a mix, and the third is 'experience talk' - or 'zen talk'.

The point is that language does have the ability to be used and to
communicate non-dualistic (no subject/object/verb) experiences. Language
evolved, not engineered. It is not appropriate to try to superimpose a
logical structure on an evolved system. The grammatical rules that we
associate with languages have been developed AFTER-THE-FACT, not CONCURRENT
with the language. For example humans could speak and communicate very well
before anyone ever decided to categorize words into nouns, verbs, subjects
and objects. All this grammar is imposed upon language in an attempt to
'understand' language. 'Understand' always means 'impose a logical
structure'.

...Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Of Lluís Mendieta
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2010 4:42 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Hi, Bill

Hungry! has also an implied subject: I am hungry!

Fire! has also one, "it" : It is in fire! (although could be also "there is
a fire!" and that would be impersonal, I suppose)
Ugghhhhh!
Y only know true impersonals (no subject ) in spanish, catalan and french

On vende .....
Se vende botellas ("se venden botellas" is a pasiva refleja, not a true
impersonal.... That drived me crazy in Bacchaloreat....)

Seems that westerners are tied to sujects and verbs.

With best wishes

Lluís
----- Original Message ----- 
From: billsm...@hhs1963.org 
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Sunday, November 14, 2010 3:39 AM
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Lluis,

In the example I used ‘Hungry?’ you are correct that the subject (you) is
implied probably because it is a question. How about ‘Hungry!’; or better
yet ‘Fire!’?. In the case of ‘Fire!’ there is no subject/object implied –
just ‘Fire!’, Just THIS!

It’s interesting to learn that Finnish has a lot of words to define
relationships.

…Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Of Lluís Mendieta
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 4:06 PM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Hi, Bill

I beg to differ in two non zen questions
-Hungry? has the subject implicit. You do not place it, but it is implied.
The werb in spanish or catalan would be also implicit, so, I suppose same
in english.

-finnish is a westerner language. And they have a lot of words to design the
relationship within family.

With best wishes

Lluís

----- Original Message ----- 
From: billsm...@hhs1963.org 
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2010 8:09 AM
Subject: RE: [Zen] Re: FW: Quote from St. Thomas Aquinas

Anthony,

I know Thai’s drop subject and sometimes even object all the time, but I
thought it was just because they, like Westerners, are lazy.

For example, I could ask you: ‘Are you hungry?’, or I could just ask by
saying: ‘Hungry?’ (with a rising tone). That's just laziness, or being
casual in your speech.

I do think language does reveal the different values of culture. For
example in Thai there are only 3 tenses: past, present and future; whereas
there are many, many adjectives and pronouns that are used to specifically
identify the speaker's relationship with the one addressed. In English
there are many (27?) verb tenses and very few special pronouns. This I
think shows that Westerner's value time more than Asians; whereas Asians put
more importance on personal relationships than time.

...Bill!

From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf

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