The Zen Koans – Do we have it in us
One of the truths of the Philosophy of Buddhism is that life is suffering. That is a given, and everyone needs to strive for happiness, but in order to find happiness, there are several ways to achieve happiness. One needs to show and have compassion for others, practice patience, gain tolerance, and avoid anger. To achieve this happiness, one also must be in touch with his spirit, and know how to relax through the techniques of meditation. Buddhists explore the depths of human soul throughout the ages. In spiritual realms, it is intuition which plays a major role in quenching our thirst for knowledge. But these practices of Buddhism are not comprehended by many who are unfamiliar with the philosophy. It is because they are trained to think logically and concretely. There is not as much focus on training the spirit in the western culture. One interesting method Zen Buddhist Masters use for their followers to train the spirit is through The Zen Koans.
Man has always been plagued with self doubts, illusions and prejudices. Those who are sensitive to these inner voices, embark on a journey towards happiness. The journey is tough. Over the time, they realize that prior to embarking on this journey, their intellect was trapped in a quick sand of ignorance and complacency. The self doubts, illusions and prejudices only compelled the soul to get out of the quick sand.
When the intellect manages to come out of the quicksand, the true process of learning begins. The soul starts getting answers to all its qualms. A stage soon follows were the storm of mindless quarries, insights, fears and aspirations comes to rest. It is after this stage when the mind and soul enlighten. Such a tranquil stage is sought after, achieved and experienced by sages. Koans are valuable sayings of such sages, especially the Zen Buddhist masters and the practitioners.
Koans in the form of questions are used by the Zen masters, as a tool to test the understanding of a disciple (or follower) on a concept. The meaning of the question is not conveyed apparently. It is done deliberately by the master. The intent is that the disciple should not focus his attention on providing a mere answer to the question. He should grasp the very essence of the concept and acquire the appropriate state of mind to deal with the situation embodied by the concept.
Concepts like Koans can be appreciated when we bring steadiness and contemplation in our lives. The mad rush which is the order of day in present times, cannot bring us closer to such highly enlightened experiences of life, and hinder us on our journey to happiness.