There are many Zen Koans on living in the moment, but this is perhaps the most powerful koan on mindfulness. Death is an intrinsic part of life. What has a beginning, must have an end. We are mortal beings and death is the reality that each and every one of us will have to face. Regardless of how much effort you put in, there will always be a void of nothingness behind you countered only by an even larger expanse of infinity ahead.
So how can we be happy, when we know that pain, sorrow, and death are inevitable? The answer lies in the present moment. It is about bringing your awareness to the present. It is about being curious about this present moment. Presence, awareness, and curiosity is the key to overcoming entropy and experience joy despite the truth of death.
5. Buddha’s Zen
“I consider the positions of kings and rulers as that of dust motes. I observe treasures of gold and gems as so many bricks and pebbles. I look upon the finest silken robes as tattered rags. I see myriad worlds of the universe as small seeds of fruit, and the greatest lake in India as a drop of oil on my foot.”
“I perceive the teachings of the world to be the illusion of magicians. I discern the highest conception of emancipation as a golden brocade in a dream, and view the holy path of the illuminated ones as flowers appearing in one’s eyes. I see meditation as a pillar of a mountain, Nirvana as a nightmare of daytime. I look upon the judgment of right and wrong as the serpentine dance of a dragon, and the rise and fall of beliefs as but traces left by the four seasons.”
One of the biggest realizations we can have is that everything in life is fleeting. Nothing lasts forever as everything is collapsing one moment at a time. Everything in the great cosmos is comprised of the same imperfectly perfect matter. Permanence is nothing but an illusion of our minds and our culture. We can become aware of this fact through imaginative indifference and intellectual brutality.
Buddha, in the quote above, focuses on crumbling fixed thinking, breaking the concept of power and hierarchy, and finding flaws in perceived beliefs with the heat of his wise words to free our thinking and show us the way to feed our souls. Everything comes and goes without even leaving a trace. What rises, eventually falls. What grows, gradually decays. And that is the true essence of life.
Puzzle your way to bliss
Did these Koans transform your mind? What life lesson did you learn from these parables? Could you relate to some or all of these Koans?
Zen Koans are a puzzle of words that allows the mind to unravel itself. Koans are paradoxical and ambiguous without any clear-cut right or wrong answers. These simply help our minds to expand through imagination and mindfulness to achieve a state of ‘no-minding’.
Here is an interesting video on Zen Buddhist Koans that you may find enlightening: