What is a Koan exercise? This is something that we, the Gnostics , must profoundly study.
Koan is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese phrase Kung-an, whose original meaning is, “Document of an official agreement on the desk.”
It is obvious that Zen Buddhists give the term Koan a totally different meaning.
It is obvious that they designate as Koan a certain mystical dialogue between Master and disciple.
For example: A certain monk asked the Master Tung Shan, “Who is the Buddha?” The Master strangely answered, “Three chin (a measurement) of flax.”
A Buddhist monk asked the Master Chao Chou, “What is the meaning of the arrival of the bodhisattva from the west?” The answer was, “The cypress tree that is in the garden.”
An enigmatic answer, is it not? All these famous stories that are narrated in the aforementioned manner are Koans.
It is evident, clear, and obvious that Koan designates a Zen story, a Zen situation, a Zen problem.
The esoteric Koan exercise generally means, “To seek the solution to a Zen problem.”
Behold here some Koan examples for Meditation:
“Who recites the name of Buddha?”
“If all things are reduced to the Unity, what can the Unity be reduced to?”
It is unquestionable that the mind will never be able to solve a Zen problem. It is obvious that our understanding will never be able to comprehend the deep significance of a Koan.
By all means it is easy to foresee that when the mind tries to integrally comprehend any Koan, it fails and becomes defeated. Then, the mind remains in a profound stillness and in silence.
Thus, when the mind is still, when the mind is in silence, the new arrives.
In those moments, the Essence, the Buddhata, escapes from within the intellect. Then, while in the absence of the “I” it experiences “That” which does not belong to time…
“That” is the Satori, the ecstasy of Saints, the Samadhi. In those moments, we can experience the Reality, the Truth.
It is necessary to use in our Gnostic lexicon the word Koan instead of the Chinese word Hua-tou, since the word Koan is now well-known and officially accepted in the West. Therefore, the word Koan as well as Hua-tou are respectively used in their general and specific sense.
In the aged country China, the Zen (Ch’an) Buddhists do not utilize the term Koan. They prefer to say, “Hua-tou exercise.”
A monk asked Master Chao Chou, “Does a dog have Buddha nature?”
The Master answered, “Wu” (no). This single word “Wu,” besides being a mantra that is pronounced as a double “u” like imitating the sound of a hurricane, is also a Koan itself.
To work with the Koan “Wu” while having the mind still and in silence, is something marvellous.
The experience of the “illuminating Void” allows us to experience an element that radically transforms.
This chapter is from Cosmic Teachings of a Lama (1970) by Samael Aun Weor. The print and ebook editions by Glorian Publishing (a non-profit organization) are illustrated to aid your understanding, and include features like a glossary and index. Buy the book, and you benefit yourself and others.