The Difference Between Gong-an and Ko-an Practice

It is bizarre to consider that as Japan descended into fascism and racism prior to WWII – the distorted, nationalistic Zen Buddhism of that time was popular in the West amongst intellectuals, despite a number of its masters expressing openly hostile attitudes toward the Western people. It is even more bizarre to consider that after WWII – many of these very same masters remained popular as they quietly pushed their formerly racist rhetoric into the background, and applied a more ‘neutral’ policy toward the acquisition of Enlightenment.

Buddhist Dialectics, Logic and Emptiness

Enlightenment appears to be the realisation of the exact mid-point between these four positions of logic, but is not limited to any of the propositions. Things are ‘empty’ because they are not ‘full’, but it can equally be said that things are ‘full’ because they are not ‘empty’ – but these statements are relative positions for the interpretation of ‘truth’.

The Desire Mechanism

For those living in ordinary society but wishing to practice the Dharma, the Buddha advocated that the desire mechanism be controlled rather than transcended. This ‘control’ centres around applying an appropriate sexual manifestation in society that is not excessive or that violates the social codes of the time. This is the practice of appropriate sexual discipline that allows the desiring mechanism to function through strictly defined parameters.

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