Friday, September 24, 2004


A Zen koan of long standing goes as follows: The roshi (Zen teacher) holds up a staff and says, 'If you call this a staff, you affirm. If you say it is not a staff, you deny. Beyond affirmation or denial, what is it?'

I have no way of knowing at the moment what’s of pragmatic value to me, as far as theory and general knowledge go. I trust that my search for it will lead me to the right places. In that sense, I'm in a "maybe" state. What I’m trying to learn to do with all this is to learn to SEE.
Pragmatism is great for what's going on right now, and maybe I should pay more attention to that.

That Zen always seemed to me to be trying to get the student away from the use of words (dichotomy), and labels. For if we stick a label on it, we are trying to determine in the operative sense of the word what it is and shall be, and maybe it is not what we are labeling it to be. If we use a word to describe it, it either is or is not. We can also be making an assumption of what it is based on consensual agreement. Again, assumptions and agreement may not be valid. The point is, words can sometimes get in the way of SEEING.

I'm reminded of the Castaneda koan in "Separate Reality" where Don Genaro, Don Juan and Castaneda are discussing SEEING. Castaneda is busy taking notes. Don Genaro is sitting on the ground, and somehow rolls over and is balanced on his head, then rolls back. He keeps doing this impossible thing, much to Castaneda's distraction from writing down Don Juan's words. Soon the to sorcerors are chuckling to themselves. Finally, Castaneda asks why they are laughing. Don Juan breaks up laughing, and when he recovers, he says, "Oh, Genaro was just saying that the likelihood of you learning to SEE by writing is the same as Don Genaro being able to sit on his head." Which broke up all three of them into fits of laughter. Point being, SEEING and learning to SEE are not done with words, but maybe they can be. Genaro sat on his head, after all.


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