the koan as a lens

Last week, I wrote about the Art of the Question. As is often the case, the act of writing served to agitate the settled bits in my brain and the ideas have continued to ring in my head.

There is one particular form of question that I’ve always been partial to, and that is the koan: so, what is the sound of one hand clapping, and all of its kin. But what are the koans that run through my days?

Or viewed slightly differently, what of the questions I’m searching for, so that the answer becomes clear from the form and wording of the question, and can I form that question as a koan? I don’t yet have an answer to that, but it’s an interesting lens through which to view this whole process.

I’m not sure of the extent to which this is formally true, but I’ve always viewed a koan as an almost unanswerable question, whose purpose is to generate contemplation. This is how I’ve always viewed the one hand hand clapping question.

What I’m finding very interesting at the moment is that despite the readings I’ve done over time, this idea of using the koan as lens is not something I’d thought of doing before.

What might be the koan of the finitely generated intersection property, for instance. We (the collective we) have a reasonable understanding of this property though there is much we do not yet know. But I don’t know what the underlying koan might be, or if I wander into the forest of recursion, whether this question of what the koan might be, is itself a koan?

And what might be the aikido koan? This one is especially fascinating, since I’m not sure what the question to be koaned might even be. And so all I can say at this point is, the contemplation continues.

~ by Jim Anderson on 20 November 2022.

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