The phrase 'work on them' to me means to use the koan as a technique to halt
the manifestation of your discriminating mind.  It is best done with a
teacher in whom you do indeed need to have faith.  Any teacher-student
relationship must be based on respect and faith.  The student must respect
the teacher and have faith that he knows what he's doing; and the teacher
has to respect the student and have faith that his motives are pure.

However, there is no 'meaning' to a koan, especially a 'private' or eclectic
meaning.  A koan just a tool.  It is like a mantra or a chant.  There is no
meaning to the mantra or chant.  Or bowing.  There is no meaning to the bow.
Or even zazen.  There is no meaning to zazen.  All of these are just tools
or techniques used in conjunction with a teacher or by yourself, to quiet
and eventually dissolve your discriminating mind to reveal Buddha Nature.

Of all the techniques I cited above (zazen, mantra, chanting, bowing, koans)
the one that I personally believe is the most teacher-student dependent is
koans.  All the others you can more easily do on your own.  You can do koans
on your own.  Here's how:  Make a recording saying "No Way!  Go back to your
cushion and work on it some more."  And anytime you think you understand the
koan just play that recording.  That might just work for you.

I guess another way to put it is the process of 'working on' a koan is best
done with a teacher.  When the koan is 'resolved' (has enabled you to
realize Buddha Nature) you won't need a teacher to validate that or pat you
on the head and say 'Good job'.  Doing that is just a formality.  It's like
going through college and getting a diploma.  The diploma doesn't make you
any more knowledgeable, but it is a formal validation of your achievement
and is necessary in the business world, just as receiving validation from a
Zen Master is necessary in the religious world.

Just sitting (zazen) is always the best advice.  It worked for Shakyamuni!


From: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com [mailto:zen_fo...@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 9:15 AM
To: Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [Zen] Perhaps


By 'work on' them, you undoubtedly mean resolve the koan with the
non-discursive mind. 
The consequence of this is that the 'meaning' of koans is *private*, and a
koan's ineffable meaning is known to the Master only.
This fact grants the Zen Master sole and incontestable power to pronounce
judgment on whether a koan has been resolved by the the student or not - and
his judgment is beyond appeal.
Therefore, the koan-resolving practice is based on a total and blind faith
in the roshi.
--- In Zen_Forum@yahoogroups.com, <billsm...@...> wrote:
> Mayka,
> Here is a link to one of the most well known collection of koans THE
> http://www.ibiblio.org/zen/cgi-bin/koan-index.pl
> There' absolutely no problem with just reading and enjoying these. You
don't have to "work on them' and in fact shouldn't try if you're not working
with a competent zen teacher.

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