I don't understand what is being offered when I see advertised, for $120, a one night a week for six weeks "exploration" of the first koan, mu.
You see, I know someone who passed the first koan on their first stab at it. But I also know someone who passed the first koan after some thirty years of consistent, dedicated practice -- including more sesshin days than some teachers had under their shukins before they were sanctioned. Sometimes the fruit is ripe; sometimes the fruit needs to stay on the vine a while. Such is the nature of practice. Such is the nature of our life. Such is the nature of the first koan.
I have watched the dead come back to life with mu, and I will never stop bearing witness to that reality. If I do nothing else as a Zen priest, I will attest to the transformative power that is unleashed when the ego dies its first real death in mu.
So I don't understand what's supposed to happen on those six consecutive fall evenings. I see that discussion is involved. Really? Of all things, more discussion? It says, too, that there will be dokusan. At $20 an evening, though, its hard to imagine anyone will get rung out quickly for starting off their demonstration by opening their mouth. Nothing in my training leads me to make sense of any of this. Nothing at all.
But there must be something to this, right? I mean, such a program must assuredly be a skillful means for breaking through the hold the self has on someone. It simply has to be worth the participants' time and the money as a way of putting an end to dukkha, right?
I clearly don't understand.