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February 21, 2019


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I've alluded to this before that koan practice seems -- to my mind at least -- at the very best peripheral to what Zen offers as spiritual practice in our present age.

I don't mean to downgrade people's practice of koans or dissuade those who are inspired by them, but just to point out that at the age in which koans were flourishing was also fairly early in the steep decline toward the present nadir of the Dharma Ending Age (soon to get much worse).

The koan (gong'an) arose in other words as expedient means. In today's world, unlike in the golden age of the gong'an, anyone with access to the Internet has an unbelievable wealth of spiritual treasures in the form of scriptures and teachings and discourses throughout the ages. Just looking at the milieu of the time, undertaking a gong'an with a teacher would have been perhaps the best opportunity to break the vise-grip of false thinking, because there were so few other options.

Now, in today's polluted age, I think it is not only increasingly difficult in general, but there are fewer and fewer realized masters who can help to guide the student along with the use of this particular expediency. All of this is very controversial I suppose to those who insist on the traditional model of student-teacher practice.

As I mentioned recently, I am inclined to believe as the Buddhadharma continues to disappear, the fewer and fewer numbers of spiritually attuned people will need to retreat from the world as best as they can and study on their own, to the extent of their abilities. Try to be the best you can be morally, study the scriptures diligently and with whatever faith can be mustered, and search every moment of every day for what the Buddha realized.

It has been said that when the treasures of Buddhism become unavailable to this world, bodhisattvas and solitary realizers will arise to continue to inspire the path of awakening until the birth of Maitreya and a new cycle of wisdom becomes available to the terrestrial world.

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