Home 2020 March 11 Using Koan Meditation for Silencing the Mind

Using Koan Meditation for Silencing the Mind

One of the good ways to silence the mind (and subsequently activate your consciousness) is through a technique known as the koans. This old Zen Buddhist method for meditation involves pondering on enigmatic phrases, questions or sentences that are without an answer, or that the mind has a difficult finding an answer to. However, “pondering” in this case does not refer to thinking about it, but rather shining the light of consciousness on it in the state of inner stillness.

There are many different koans. In the teachings of master Samael and master Rabolu some were given, such as:

-how big is our Universe?
-what is the sound of one hand clapping?
-if everything can be reduced to a unity, what can unity be reduced to?

These are some of the questions that are seemingly without an answer, and that can serve very well as koans. In this post though I would like to focus on a koan that is more in line with the original Zen Buddhist type of phrases, and which master Samael included in his book the Buddha’s necklace. Here is an excerpt from the chapter called “The Chinese Master Wu Wen”:

“The great master, Wu Wen, began his meditation practices under the wise direction of Master Tuo Weng. His first work of meditation was accomplished with the following koan or mysterious saying: “It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is nothing.” Wu Wen, seated in the oriental style, concentrated his mind on this saying, trying to understand its deep significance.
This koan, or enigmatic statement, is difficult to comprehend, and after we meditate on it with the earnest goal of experiencing the truth enclosed in each word of the mysterious saying, it is evident that the mind, unable to grasp its significance, is conquered and falls, as if fatally wounded Then it resigns, remaining quiet and silent.”

This whole chapter is interesting, but I would like to focus now on the koan given in the excerpt:

“It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is nothing.”

 When we use the koans for entering our meditation, we can not only quite the mind with it, but also get insight or full understanding about its deep significance. This practice, however, may not be the most suitable for someone who is just starting out with meditation or the spiritual work. A level of inner stillness should have been achieved by now, as only like this can we go deeper into this technique without losing ourselves in the thinking processes.

As mentioned before, the way to go about this technique is not by thinking about it, but rather reflecting on it with our consciousness. This can be done in the following way:
During your meditation time, when you are relaxed and interiorized, quiet your mind first with focusing on how your body is breathing. After some short time of doing it, when you see that your mind has become more tranquil and still, bring your attention to the koan:

“It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is nothing.”

 Allow for this phrase to be in your mind, and reflect on it without thinking. Simply observe this phrase with intention of trying to arrive to the meaning of it. When the thoughts come and distract you, just let them pass, and continue observing the koan. The more concentrated you will be, the more your consciousness will shine through, and eventually this will bring you to the goal of getting to the insight and to complete stillness of the mind.

As the mind becomes more and more still, so is the consciousness becoming more and more prominent and strong, and in this state we can intuitively feel and understand things related to the koan at hand, but also about other things where our interest lies.

“It is not the mind, it is not the Buddha, it is nothing.” is a koan behind which is a profound meaning, with a valuable insight regarding the study of ourselves and reality.

HDP, March 2020.

Author: Dario

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