Then Go Wash Your Bowl 🥣

A monk asked Zhaozhou (趙州從諗) to teach him.
Zhaozhou asked, “Have you eaten your meal?”
The monk replied, “Yes, I have.”
“Then go wash your bowl”, said Zhaozhou.
At that moment, the monk was enlightened.

From the book The Gateless Gate 無門關



I don’t really get koans 公案. I just couldn’t get anywhere trying to think about random sentences. “Earth is the medicine.” “Who am I?” If anything, I probably need to ponder less.

Somehow, this particular koan worked. I now get it, at least for this moment.

I have experienced enough to know that all realisations are fleeting. So I better write this down.

This koan is another way to trigger the feeling of being in the moment. Or to be more precise, this koan tries to make you feel the significance of being in the present. Feeeeeel.

We already know what it means to be present. We already understand, rationally, why it is important to be in the moment. Yet, centuries of monks and philosophers and Tony Robbins continue to sell us this idea, as if it is something fresh out of the self-hacking laboratories. Why? Because felt experiences are rare, hard to describe, and fleeting.

Derek Sivers once said, “”If [more] information was the answer, then we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.” I wondered for a long time how minds were changed, how people were influenced. I realised, one clear way for these to happen, was to have felt experiences.

At the [Modern Wisdom podcast], Daniel Schmachtenberger argued for the experimental side of reality (wooooooo 😵):

“Scientists reading the brainwaves of the meditator can describe what the waves are but cannot describe the feelings and the experience. Only the one who experienced the experience would be able to have a chance describing the experience. The search for the confluence of the felt sense and the clarity in describing it, is the goal for us to pursue, the meaning of life. What we feel, how we experience things, if and when it can be described more clearly, is when we understand the world better.”

I think this is a good place to end this x⸑x






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