A personal koan-like question might be anyone of the following: “Who is thinking?”, “What is my original face?” or “Who is it that repeats the Buddha’s name?” These questions and others seem to always take us to a door that we can’t manage to open which hides the right answer. No matter how many times we bring up such questions, the door remains firmly shut. Obviously, we have come to some kind of mysterious impasse which defies our ability to open the door and see the answer.
What is keeping us from the right answer is that the answer is totally outside of our realm of being. It will not be apprehended in a way we imagine it should. What is required is a new way of approaching such questions.
When we subvocally ask “Who is it that repeats the Buddha’s name?” figuratively speaking, we are creating mind waves (or if you prefer, mind vortices). No doubt, you, the reader may have already guessed that the answer we are looking for is waveless. In this respect, it does not consist of thoughts, subvocal sounds or even silence, all of which are waves.
Now, I want you to use your imagination. You are an ice being who lives at the bottom of a huge clear lake. Wherever you look you can only see ice artifacts—never the water. Whatever you think about is very fine ice. As this ice person you are slowly dying (that is dissolving) which causes you suffering because you are so attached to this ice being.
Wallowing in your angst, you’ve decided to read the teachings of the Great Awakened Iceman (the Buddha of course) who describes a pure medium that any ice being can yoke with which is deathless and free of iciness. Next, you take up the question, “What am I?”
One day you chance to meet an ice Rishi who has yoked with this iceless and deathless medium. Staying in his presence you suddenly become extremely frightened. You sense that you are melting although there are no visible signs of it that you can see. While you are obviously terrified, the Rishi just laughs! He says that you have to merge with the pure water—not its frozen forms. This makes no sense from your perspective. So you decide after a great deal of thought to leave this crazy Rishi and study with a teacher who teaches the here and now of iciness.
Forgive me dear reader for closing this with a bad ending. But I know you are smart enough to realize that had you been that icy being, you wouldn’t have left the crazy Rishi. But then you are an exception. You are not like a common, run-of-the-mill (S., prithagjana) ice person.