Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The One Who Came

"What is the sound of one hand clapping?" Zen masters have been puzzling one another with 'koans' for over a thousand years in their quest for enlightenment. On the surface a koan may appear to be just a nonsensical question used to either torment a Zen neophyte or perhaps to act as a sort of repetitive chant with no answer really sought, but merely a way to help cleanse the mind of activity in order to enter a meditative state. But I think not. I think a koan is really a device to suddenly jolt one out of ordinary thinking and into a state of awareness, awareness of things not of the ordinary, perhaps even a state of spiritual awareness. So, the koan is a device to jolt the logical mind into the spiritual mind, and not a question to be answered. For the Zen monk, forget about hands clapping, then perhaps your journey can begin, because now, the out of the ordinary can be viewed with uncluttered insight. So too when one reads the Gospel of Thomas where Jesus jolts us with one koan after another.

"When you see one who was not born of woman, fall on your faces and worship. That one is your Father."

"Have you found the beginning, then, that you are looking for the end? You see, the end will be where the beginning is. Congratulations to the one who stands at the beginning: that one will know the end and will not taste death."

"Congratulations to the one who came into being before coming into being."

"These nursing babies are like those who enter the kingdom."

"Congratulations to the poor, for to you belongs Heaven's kingdom."

"Congratulations to the person who has toiled and has found life."

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