(Essential practice)

“Do you have a Koan?” that was the first question my teacher Zen Master, Venerable Hwasun Yangil Sunim asked me.

I had heard about Koans before – mainly from books and didn’t really think they were essential for Zen practice.

But here I was, sitting in front of an actual Zen Master and he was asking me if I had a Koan.

What is a Koan?

A Koan in our tradition is a type of Mind Meal.

You chew on a word or phrase over and over again from morning until night.

This helps to collect the rampant karmic energies of the mind.

When the minds energetic formations stop you’ll discover this wide open freedom that’s perfectly clear, stable and illuminates all.

How do you “do” Koan practice?

The Koan we use in our tradition is Atha.

Atha (pronounced Ah dha) is a sanskrit word which has various meanings like “Now” or “Blessings” or “Auspicious”.

This Mind Meal helps to anchor you in thought-free radiant loving awareness.

You’re Koan needs to take over your mind becoming a magnificent obsession.

In all that you do your mind must be fastened to your Koan – Atha.

It then becomes the single pointed target that you bring the whole weight of your mind down upon.

Thoughts arise and get sucked into the spinning vortex of your Koan.

Doubts arise and they are burned away by your Koan.

It becomes a fiery ball blazing in your mind consuming all your wayward thoughts, concerns and questions.

My teacher the Venerable Hwasun Yangil Sunim said that,

“You should watch the koan with your eyes, listen to the sound of the koan with your ears. You have to touch the koan with your hands. When you walk, each step must be on your koan. The nose should breathe the koan. You have to chew the koan with your mouth. You always have to be clothed in the koan.”

So we just do our best to keep remembering to chew on our Mind Meal all throughout the day.

Driving, walking, doing dishes.

We just keep chewing our Mind Meal over and over again.

Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha – Atha