"Koans are the folk stories of Zen... They are deeply instructive and transformative, and they are destroyed by explanation." Aitken advocates the traditional view and modalities. Just yesterday I was exposed to a slightly non-traditional koan practice.
My two very favorite podcasters, Vince and Ryan over at BuddhistGeeks, recently interviewed Susan Blackmore. Dr. Susan Blackmore is a British psychologist and writer researching consciousness, memes, and anomalous experiences. Not just an academic, Susan has been a Zen practitioner for over 20 years.
The BuddhistGeeks talked with her about her's latest book Ten Zen Questions. This book takes ten questions/koans, some traditional and some with a modern twist, and Susan explores one of two treatments. The first is to take the question and sit with it in a traditional seven day sesshin with her teacher where together they explore that particular question. In the book she describes and journals on that experience. In the second treatment she uses her garden shed to create a three day or so personal solo retreat exploring only that specific question.
Now what is so nontraditional about this approach is that at the beginning of the sesshin, the teacher hands out a sheet of paper with a few questions/koans and each participant chooses one. This is different from my experience. She has a blog setup to discuss her book and the process at tenzenbookblog.wordpress.com. Sounds like fun. Susan has fun in the interview and looking at her pictures on her website, she obviously lives on the fun side of life. Susan was a TED presenter in 2008 and presented a talk on memes.
I'm considering a Kindle to help with my dharma study. Being able to search across my collection of Zen texts, being able to load PDFs, built in dictionary and reference, these are game changing tools. Books are cheaper and lots of classical Zen texts are already available.
Do you have a Kindle? Are you considering a Kindle?