The Koans and us
Gongans/koans are important texts, they are part of our history and was bequeathed to us by the masters of the past. Now, it is often used too systematically, no need to go through all the gongans to practice, as the japanese rinzai schools have done, this is not our way. The gongans are what HsuYun called tail words, they are the manifestation, a posteriori, of an exchange which led someone to awakening. But we must never forget that the gongan only bore these fruits when the individual was close, the individual has practiced for many years before, the gongan is therefore only the tail, the end, of the process. This is why our tradition, which can use koans, will especially stick to the word head (huatou), to the central question of the gongan. This can bring us back through introspection to the same achievement as the gongan. But our party is to say that we do not need to pass through hundreds of gongan, the practitioner of the huatou will often have only one all his life, sometimes two or three if he does not bear fruit and that the master redirects the student’s practice according to his needs. But fully realizing our nature does this only once. Now where it makes sense is that it’s not enough to have gotten a great kensho and then that’s it, once the nature of our mind is recognized, the only one is born the beginning of the way of chan, of naturalness, and therefore the possibility of simply practicing zazen, pcq the practitioner will be able to really enter into samadhi with his one spirit.
Our way is therefore, the recitation of the name and the precepts in the daily life to sit our practice, then the practice of the huatou to open the doors, the veils, and to recognize our spirit by penetrating into the chan, (sometimes several huatou are necessary on a lifetime), and then only the practice of serene naturalness, the royal samadhi of zuochan (the practice of all too often trivialized zazen).
Regarding the practice, do not worry about your achievements. Never weighted, never introduces good or bad, the reduction of the respiratory rate, or the superficial chi which circulates are side effects of our practice. Some schools focus on these phenomena, for us they are only things that happen, it is important to know them so as not to get carried away by them. There is, however, no point in denying them.
Classically, Zen treats them all as makkyo if not the students so attached and do nothing more than try to reproduce its possible states of grace, or to avoid very disturbing states … to the detriment of real practice: to realize our heart -spirit, our true nature.
The beginning of the path can be expressed in terms of a method for realizing the nature of the mind, but once the land of the mind is recognized, we are outside of all methods, chan is pure naturalness! This is real zazen, no more words are useful, just the serene and luminous presence.
It is a process towards serene naturalness. In short, a mystical path since it is located in experience, beyond words and conventions, a reversal of our brains where all perceptions remain but where the self, the ego has disappeared (that’s the satori from when we recognize our true nature). In short, a natural state where we recognize that there is nothing to take away and nothing to add!
The practice of recitation allows the same path. First discipline and firmness in practice. Then, when the practice is stable, a voluntary turning inward, towards the root of this spirit, beyond perceptions and other manifestations, we illuminate the base of the spirit. By dive with openness and concentration, at one point the recitation is done by itself ‘without recitation’ say the texts. By dive in with concentration and relaxation, ‘he who’ disappears and we experience the recognition of our Land of the Spirit. And only then the possibility of a serene naturalness practice (recitation in naturalness, this Just Now that we know well). At this stage, the zazen is not only the seat or the recitation, in a word the chan has been penetrated and we continue to dig and to walk towards ourselves but in all simplicity.
Asking too many questions can become a brake on the relaxation necessary to dive into the deepest practice and experience this reversal of the spirit which leads years to realization, to the recognition of its luminous vastness.
We must persevere without asking questions, give ourselves to practice until immolating ourselves in it, until our whole being burns there and a new being is reborn, but yet no different. This is the entrance to the mystical path. It takes this very mystical passage, based on trust in the Amitabha Buddha, on his universal light, before heto understand the nature of the spirit and to be able to practice the True Direct Way.
I hope that it will help you a little and that it will bring more answers than questions. You must cultivate faith, yes the word is dropped. But not blind faith, faith that is born of trust and knowledge. Understanding intellectually the nature of amitabha and its pure land as only the mind is important, but at some point it is also a hindrance. Unnecessary intellectualization.
It is sincere faith / trust in our true nature, in the pure land of the Buddha of life and light which allows us to be reborn and to receive our teaching (realizing our nature and living in serene naturalness-so). .. it is necessary to go beyond oneself, and thus enter into chan … right here and now.