Sunday, March 8, 2009

Lent 2

Christian Zen garden

From this morning's gospel reading:
For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.
And take a look at this interesting translation/paraphrase:
If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will find true life.
I've long thought this to be the central Christian koan. A koan is a Zen teaching device - a paradoxical saying or question that poses a conundrum - to be used as a focal point for meditation. A very famous koan is "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"

Here's a definition I really like:
A koan is simply the time and place where Truth is manifest. From the fundamental point of view, there is no time or place where Truth is not revealed: every place, every day, every event, every thought, every deed, and every person is a koan. In that senses, koans are neither obscure nor enigmatic. However, a koan is more commonly understood as a tool for teaching true insight.
Traditionally, the meditator will ponder the koan until the reasoning, problem-solving mind - the ego - gives up and a person's deeper nature is able to intuit how to comprehend and then apply the saying to his or her life.


  1. Though you don't mention it, were you thinking about the brouhaha re the Bishop-Elect of Northern Michigan w/ this post?

    Anyone who thinks that "Christian" and "Zen" are mutually exclusive, probably doesn't know very much about either, IMO.

  2. Yes, JCF. Indeed I was. That situation really stunned me because if he can be declared unfit for ministry then so can I. I have extensive Buddhist meditation training (although it is mostly of the Tibetan variety - not Zen) and I know perfectly well that it is not in conflict with Christianity unless a person chooses to make it so.


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