Pavel Somov's blog

Uncertainty Training Therapy

Psychologically speaking, koans are a unique way to inoculate a human mind to the anxiety of uncertainty. When we encounter uncertainty, we are stumped. Uncertainty frustrates us with its enigmatic nonsense. Koans, in their unanswerable quality, effectively simulate such moments of uncertainty. Author Hee-Jin Kim explains: the koans are “realized, not solved” (1975, 101). Admittedly, this explanation is a bit of a puzzle itself. But here’s how I make sense of it. A koan, once again, is an unanswerable puzzle. If we take it on, we begin banging our head against the wall of the unknown.

Rascal Grin of the Original Face

I am a rascal grinning at myself in a mirror. (C. Jung, Red Book, p. 241)

Consciousness Is Its Own Broom

Suzuki reports the following curious exchange between Yun-men (a Zen master) and a fellow monk. When asked “Who is Buddha?” Yun-men said: “The dried-up dirt cleaner.”

To my analysis, this a rather profound response, although it doesn’t seem so at first. After all, Buddha as a dirt cleaner? What does that mean?

Dogs Crow, Cocks Bark

Small Knowledge said: "Ji Zhen holds that the world was not created by anything, and Jiezi holds that it was created by something. Which is correct and which is wrong?"
Comprehensive Understanding, as reported by Zhuangzi, replied: "Cocks crow and dogs bark."

Mind on a Range

At my epistemological best, I am a lucid dreamer, dreaming that I am awake.

At my epistemological worst, I am blissfully asleep, believing in a distinction between fact and fiction.

At my epistemological middle, I am the sound of one skull breathing and snoring.

Fear No Emptiness

Truth is tribe-specific, mind-specific, moment-specific, fear-specific information.
You make a sound (whatever it is that your culture designated for a given fear)
And - bam! - everybody’s mind stops agog: “What? What?!”

I know one thing: there is no one thing, i.e. there is no one truth, i.e. there is no truth.
I left some blank space above and below for you to process this information
out of the singularity of your emptiness.

Fear no emptiness, certainly not your own!
"Boo!-ddha" is but an alarm call for: "beware of informational fullness."
Empty your mind of fear.

Your (and my) skull is a soup bowl full of alphabet; tip it over.
Fear no information.
Let mind spill.

Musings on Japanese Concept of "Ba" - the Arrow of Circumstance

Whether we sit alone or sit together, we sit in the ba. “Ba” is Japanese for a circumstance of a shared space: “what I feel now is not in me, but in the ba” (1).

Life is movement. There is no movement without friction. This friction you feel when you sit (meditatively) alone is the feel of the internal circumstance that is moving through you. This friction you feel when you sit (socially) together with another is the feel of the external circumstance that is moving past you. It’s the feel of the ba – feel it and put it back, back into the River of Circumstance.

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