where mist meets ocean
a water droplet wonders
— am I cloud, or sea?
I first set out on the path of kōan, with Zen Master Daizan Roshi.
He gave me my first kōan, “Who Am I?” and I have never looked back.
I remember saying to him in sanzen (dokusan), a private meeting between Master and student…
“if I can answer this kōan, why would I need another kōan?”
I never did need another (there is a vast kōan curriculum in Rinzai Zen). Because this kōan has been the unravelling of me. It is the most beautiful kōan. It is not only the Zen kōan of Zen Masters such as Bassui Tokusho and Man Gong, it is the self-inquiry of Advaita Masters, Sri Ramana Maharshi and his disciple, HWL Poonja, under whose lineage I now sit with this kōan, through the pointings of my beloved Master, disciple of Poonjaji, Ganga Mira.
The Buddha said we need to do two things.
- Train our mind.
- Understand who we are.
Through meditation and the ascetic practices, we train and purify our mind. This makes us ready to understand who we are. This cannot be seen through some guided meditation or other practice. It cannot be seen at all. It cannot be described, written down, nor spoken.
It can only be discovered, directly, through our own direct experience.
This kōan, Who Am I? is an arrow, pointing the way for where to direct our attention. We don't ask it, or answer it, we must follow it's pointing. It whispers to us “look here, look here.”
So we must look. We must turn our attention inwards, using this question as our compass.
Whether you recognise that you are on the spiritual path or not, your kōan is Who Am I?
Because it is a naturally arising question, in any human being.
At it's root, lies the answer to all our questions. This singular question dissolves all questions, and leaves us with the eternal answer.
I can't tell you the answer, because it cannot be described in words. But I can point you to it, and I can tell you that you must look, not at this question, nor into it, but to the place from where the “I” asking it arises.
This question, life itself, is your kōan.
Will you accept this kōan?
Look to where it directs you.
Fall in love with this question. Fall in love with that which it points to, and stay there.
At some point, the question will melt, as ice melts into water, and what will remain, is your True Self, who you really are.