Sunday, July 18, 2021

Recent Titles from MindOfJoe

If you're only following here, you're missing out. Here are the most recent posts from the MindOfJoe Blog:

All previous Sword Mountain posts have been replicated there.

Know where the sun will set and where the sun will rise.

Friday, July 16, 2021

When You Think You Know

Return to your Center
Just Breathe
Only This
Just Breathe


Then Remember
Kiai is rarely “Kiai!”
but it is the Word Itself

[Originally published as "When You Think You Know" on MindOfJoe's Blog. See the sidebar for details regarding future posts.]

Walking the Dog

"I think it’s the first koan in the Mumonkan, the story of Joshu’s Dog. The student asks the teacher, “Does the dog have Buddha nature?” Master Joshu replies, “Mu!” … or, “Muuuuu….”, or whatever ~ I don’t know ~ I wasn’t there. Still, maybe a more interesting question would have been, “Would a dog be aware of its own Buddha nature if it had it?” Who knows? I’ve heard dogs know how to be dogs ~ they know their job; it’s humans who get confused. Dogs make great zen masters ~ teach us a lot about ourselves. Now as for folks who bring cats into their house instead? :-p Hopefully your house is back in order soon enough."

From some late night correspondence regarding a skunk attack. How would your dog reply?

[Originally posted as "Walking the Dog" at MindOfJoe's Blog. Check notes in the sidebar for additional information regarding where new posts are appearing.]

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Expert Opinion

[Originally posted as "Expert Opinion" at the MindOfJoe Blog on 9 July 2021.]

In yesterday’s background noise I heard two YouTube personalities speaking on zen and koans. Both fellows have a bias toward demystifying zen, often giving concrete “this is what it means”-type explanations. One fellow will giggle, grin, and play along if he senses a challenge; the other is surly, rolling his eyes and decrying use of patterned zen-like language from other teachers whom he says just don’t get it.

Honestly, I couldn’t have been more amused. I’d kind of like to see the pair from different lineages in the same room, then sit back with a big bowl of popcorn, tossing in a question here and there to fuel the debate between the two different views of oneness.

At dinner the other night, we mused over the notion that each formal religion seems to have an esoteric subset. We speculated that the “mystics” of those subsets could find themselves in the same room and get along just fine. After all, they start with a shared understanding of something in particular and can explain how it is manifested in their religion’s different practices. Take any others and, more likely than not, they will gravitate toward the differences even if they do seek common ground.

So, who’s right? Once, it’s said, after a protraced, academic debate on the merits of this approach or that, a student asked directly:

Once a student came to the Venerable Ch’an Master Pa-Lung and asked, ‘Are patriarchal teachings and doctrinal teachings the same or different?’ The Ch’an Master Pa-Lung answered, ‘When a chicken is cold, it climbs to the top of the tree; when a duck is cold, it goes under the water.’ (From the ‘Dialogue on the Doctrinal and the Patriarchal Teachings’ Koan)

What does it mean? Who knows. As for me, I can tell you this: It’s a fun topic for everyone, asking your invited guests to share their different thoughts somewhere between dinner and desert.