On koans

The purpose of a koan is for the person who engages in it to realize the difference between the mind (which manifests itself as a flow of thoughts) and consciousness (which is the space that contains the flow of thoughts). Always the issue is to understand that it is identification with our thoughts and feelings which creates the sense of “I” and that there is something broader, namely consciousness, which is common to all and within which our individual “I”s simply happen. Zen masters identify consciousness with life itself.

The paradox surrounding a koan tends to arouse the mind for long, as the mind thinks it over and over trying to “solve” the paradox or simply find an answer, more or less like a dog chasing its tale. With koans, one is given the opportunity to realize the difference between mind and consciousness.

The moment when someone realizes that mind and consciousness are two different things, he can understand that the mind identifies with his personality and consciousness with his essence; this is how the koan’s purpose is fulfilled.

Fulfilling the purpose of a koan has little to do with explaining it. No matter how many explanations a koan receives, its meaning is never exhausted anyway. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that it has one and only, definitive explanation.

Examples of koans:

- Two hands clap and a sound is produced. What is the sound of one hand?

- How can one express the truth without speech and without silence?

- If I truly love myself, I must not love myself. If I want to protect myself, I must not protect myself.

- It’s neither the flag that moves nor the wind; it’s the mind.


A koan

A koan: “There is no time. What is memory?”

If I knock the table with my hand twice, I have to accept that it’s time that separates the two knocks from each other. Therefore, time exists. But it only exists because I have memory of the first knock.

Everything I build within me, I build using memory as cornerstone – and because memory has plenty defects, I cannot but doubt everything I build.

What does this leave me with? With this very moment, right now; nothing more. Even if time exists, it’s not important.


Love (second part)

b. Lowering one’s defenses. This has been discussed over and over in this blog and it is essentially a rephrasing of “allowing one’s heart to break”. In connection to romantic love, we may see it is the more beneficial the more it relates to oneself, meaning that the benefits are reaped at the level of oneself and less at the level of interacting with another, as is the common misconception.

c. The focusing of sexuality. Sexuality too is personal. It is believed to bring people together, but it doesn’t do it on its own, cultural conditioning does it.

We may see then that “love” is primarily an internal process – it comes from and returns to the self. Although it is the object of one’s infatuation allegedly receives our attention, in the end it was us and only us behind the scene all along.

“Real love” in connection to another human being is the point where we accept and allow them to be as they are. It is the point where we can afford such an attitude. It is a point of reconciliation with ourselves, first of all, and of inner strength.



The discussion on communication gave me the impulse to reflect a little on the concept of romantic love between two people. What is this love? Let’s explore.

When we tell someone “I love you”, we are in fact stating that we feel the chemistry between us, which is mutually based on acceptance and admiration. We are also saying that we are lowering our defenses to a great extent, allowing the other person to even hurt us. We mean that our sexuality is focused on and channeled to that other person. At the same time, the tendency to protect and take care of him/her, which is similar to what parents feel for their children, emerges. People also refer to an unexplainable connection with that person at a deep/soul level.

I think that the package is, more or less, this. Let us now explore its components.

a. The (big) issue of chemistry. The chemistry between two people can lead (according to some) or is the result of (according to others) an unexplainable and deep soul connection. That the chemistry leads to the connection is, I think, the natural procedure. That the chemistry is the result of soul connection is, in my view, nothing more than internal projection: we convince ourselves that this is so and that what is happening to us is “destiny” – thus, inevitable.

Darwinists maintain that the chemistry felt when two people meet is nothing but the mutual recognition that the combination of their genes will underpin evolution. Some esotericists talk about karma and the law of reciprocity, others – more serious in my opinion – attribute the fact to an omni-present intelligence which recognises that these two people can “learn” from each other.

That the purpose of such a relationship is to “learn” marks the point from which we are allowed to see that the concept of love is nothing more than a purely internal process that starts from and returns to the “I” – what is handed over to the “you” suddenly becomes secondary.

(to be continued…)



As I surf around the blogs of my newly acquired Opera friends, I see how their posts reflect ideas, beliefs, maxims, thoughts, emotions etc. drawn either from a more philosophical or a more real-life context, depending on each person’s composure. That’s normal – even typical.

At the same time, that’s why the most striking feature I’ve noticed is in the comments. Most of the time, people write a comment not in reply to the ideas etc. discussed in the post, but on a personal basis in friendly tunes. This creates the impression that making a comment is more important than the comment itself. It is, therefore, as if what’s of real importance is not the ideas etc. discussed, but communication per se. I like that very much.

Even though I often don’t feel comfortable addressing people I barely know on such a personal basis, I really enjoy watching the easiness of others when they do it and I also enjoy the way it is received by the authors. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like people cut to the chase and go after what’s real: communication. One might argue that the internet allows only a superficial type of communication. Maybe; but it’s still wonderful.