Monday, July 11, 2011

Koan Introspection: A Quick and Dirty Introduction

A friend in a recent blog posting referred to a deep question he was pondering as an "honest koan." As later today Jan & I are going to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to see an exhibition of the work of the great koan master Hakuin Ekaku, it set me to thinking, once again, about how the word has been transformed within American English. He, and a host of others, including Zen teachers, although Zen teachers who've not engaged in the discipline of koan introspection, have come to use the word koan to stand for "a particularly thorny question." Actually I've even seen koan downgraded to simply be a synonym for "a question."

In several senses this use is not wrong.

First, language is mutable. It shifts and changes and is put to uses other than originally meant. And so what? Well, one does need to be a bit careful. The word "prevent" as used in the King James version of the Bible means "to lead forth." But, with koan we're nowhere near shifting the meaning to its opposite. So, again, so what?....

Continue reading from Monkey Mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment