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Another Koan thread... Jeez...

edited September 2010 in Meditation
Im sorry but I didn't want to hijack NormaD Buddha's thread so I wanted to start my own. The koan I have been stumped with is this:

A student asked Master Yun-Men, "Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?" Without hesitation, the master answered, "Mount Sumeru!" Why did the master answer, "Mount Sumeru!"?

I gave several answers to my former teacher and they were all wrong. Although right before I left he said I was getting closer to the answer. Now when I saw seeker242 post this I thought I got it.
seeker242 wrote: »
It seems to me that this is the kind of Koan that any answer will do but only if you understand the answer first. So the particular answer is not important but the clear delivery of the answer is what is important. A good teacher can intuitively tell if you understand it or not, regardless of what answer you give.

If you understand the answer, I think you could correctly respond by saying "I have to take a shit!" or "You have a bald head!" or some other nonsense like that. Some require a very specific answer, this is not one of those I don' think. But then again, I could be wrong. :)

But then I remembered a few things my teacher would tell me when I was answering him. He'd say "answer mostly using only the words in the koan". Or he'd say "think about the answer Master Yun-men gave, then think about the question asked". I once asked a specific question. Will I know the answer to the students question (Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?) when I know why Master Yun-men answered that way? and he said YES. I feel like I know why Master Yun-men answered that way but how does that translates into "I have to take a shit!"? And I still don't know "if a thought arises, is there still a sin?". Any help?

Comments

  • edited September 2010
    I thought the entire point of Koan practice was to figure out the answer intuitively rather than via logic and reason. Am I incorrect?

    In other words, if someone here knew the answer and gave it to you, how would that help you in any way?
  • fivebellsfivebells Veteran
    edited September 2010
    This one doesn't make sense to me. It may be relvant that Mt Sumeru is central to Buddhist cosmology. When Atisha was instructed by Green Tara to teach in Tibet, she gave him a choice between that and becoming a worm which would circumnavigate Mt Sumeru for a few aeons. I had the impression that Mt Sumeru represents the universe as a whole, but I'm having trouble finding references which support that.
  • edited September 2010
    slimy fox abortion
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited September 2010
    username_5 wrote: »
    I thought the entire point of Koan practice was to figure out the answer intuitively rather than via logic and reason. Am I incorrect?

    In other words, if someone here knew the answer and gave it to you, how would that help you in any way?

    My teacher once said: I could give you all the answers to all the koans, but it's still not going to help you answer them. :lol:

    He'd say "answer mostly using only the words in the koan"
    Ah, so it looks like he IS requiring a quite specific response.

    And I still don't know "if a thought arises, is there still a sin?". Any help?
    I don't read the koan like that: "If a thought arises". To paraphrase, I think it is saying "A thought has not arisen yet and in this "no-thought" place, is there still a sin or not?" So in other words, "is there sin or not, before thoughts have arisen?" The only way to know is to put your mind in the place where thoughts have yet to arise.
  • mugzymugzy Veteran
    edited September 2010
    The weight of a turtle hair broom is three kilos.
  • SephSeph Veteran
    edited September 2010
    A student asked Master Yun-Men, "Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?" Without hesitation, the master answered, "Mount Sumeru!" Why did the master answer, "Mount Sumeru!"?

    I'm not sure I should even be commenting here or not.
    But... here goes anyway!

    The first thing that hit me was that of more and new questions.
    Before thought (or action) is there sin?

    Does sin exist independantly of humans - like a separate 'entity' fo some sort?, or is sin totally and completely dependent on us?

    Which one is real (or the more real?) Humans or Sin?
    I would tend to think that we are real while sin is not - or at least is completely dependant on us. Ultimately - directly or indirectly - we create or manifest sin. It has and is nothing without us. We could exist without it, but not the other way 'round.

    I would tend to take the Master's answer "Mount Sumeru!" as meaning the world - or maybe more specifically - the entire created universe; all that is.
    ...which brings us back to the existencial 'condition' of sin. Where does it exist within the grand scheme of things? Is it really a big factor? Or do we feed and empower it?

    Maybe we're asking the wrong question. What is sin?
    I always like looking at the example or a common hammer.
    A common hammer isn't good or evil (let's read in "sinful" to make this easier).
    I can use a hammer to build a house - a home to raise a family in and nurture a caring and loving environment. That's a good thing.
    ... but I could just as easily use a hammer as a weapon to kill or murder someone.
    But the hammer itself is neither good nor evil. It just is.
    We empower it. Why stop at the common hammer? Take this to its logical conclusion; the entire universe. We empower it, We make it whatever it is.

    ...Am I close? :)
  • mugzymugzy Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Seph wrote: »
    ...Am I close?

    Playing on a sitar without strings for hours.
  • SephSeph Veteran
    edited September 2010
    mugzy wrote: »
    Playing on a sitar without strings for hours.
    ...???...
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited September 2010
    AmD2n.jpg
  • mugzymugzy Veteran
    edited September 2010
    Seph wrote: »
    ...???...

    Exactly :)
  • edited September 2010
    koans are your puzzle not everyone elses
  • edited September 2010
    seeker242 wrote: »
    I don't read the koan like that: "If a thought arises". To paraphrase, I think it is saying "A thought has not arisen yet and in this "no-thought" place, is there still a sin or not?" So in other words, "is there sin or not, before thoughts have arisen?" The only way to know is to put your mind in the place where thoughts have yet to arise.

    no, your right. that was kinda a typo on my part.
    username_5 wrote: »
    I thought the entire point of Koan practice was to figure out the answer intuitively rather than via logic and reason. Am I incorrect?

    In other words, if someone here knew the answer and gave it to you, how would that help you in any way?

    if someone here knew the answer, they probably wouldn't give it to me anyway. Im really not looking for someone to give me the answer. More like a nudge in the right direction. or some general insight into these koans.
    koans are your puzzle not everyone elses

    yeah but i thought other people would want a chance at a less known koan.
  • edited September 2010
    yeah but i thought other people would want a chance at a less known koan.

    As far as i know Koans are supposed to become your everywaking moment. It doesn't matter much what others do , its the person who has been assigned the Koan that makes the benefit. Unless that is, you haven't been assigned a koan and your just intellectually batting the concept of it all, in that case its not a koan you want but its antithesis.

    best of luck
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