Friday, May 05, 2006

or am I being prepped? 'Koans' - a work unfamiliar to me has brought itself to my attention three times in as many days. The first reference was in the Globe & Mail, but I can't remember for what. The second, in Fraser Sutherland's review of Leonard Cohen's new 'Book of Longing': "This can result in archness, or a particularly pointless koan." (G&M, 'Books', April 29,'06)'.
The dictionary had no entry under 'koan' - being a very WASP sorta book, but my 25 cent big blue Columbia Encyclopedia, being a worldly book, says it is a subject for meditation in Zen Buddhism - usually one of the sayings of a great Zen master of the past. Most famous of the collections of koans are Wu-men-kuan, (Gateless Gate) and Pi-yen-lu (Blue Cliff Records). An example? What is the sound of one hand clapping? Conundrums.
And last night as I was looking for a book to take with me this weekend, a thin volume protuded from the shelf in an obvious way - "Koans: the Lessons of Zen"
A book I bought years ago for my father who returned it with "What the bloody hell was that? Have it back!". I should pay more attention.
So what is the message?


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