Catholic Koans

What needs do mythology and religion serve in today's world and in ancient times? Here we discuss the relationship between mythology, religion and science from mythological, religious and philosophical viewpoints.

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Catholic Koans

Post by S_Watson » Sat Jan 16, 2010 2:53 pm

I find this new blog, "Catholic Koans", interesting and provocative even though I don't agree with all of it:

Do any of you think Campbell might approve (with reservations of course) of what this chap seems to be trying to do, in his attempt to inform his own understanding of Catholicism with "Far Eastern" (a vague term, but still...) ways of thinking?

I find his efforts to be a bit sophomoric, but at least he's trying to expand the conventional boundaries of his conventional mythology.

I especially appreciate this bit he wrote:
What is Hell but a place where one cries because no one is there that can be wholly consoling, yet where one is indeed left free to cry in any manner that one desires? What is Heaven, by contrast, but a place where one does not cry because there is the One who is wholly and completely consoling, yet where one is indeed not free to cry in manner whatsoever?....
...although I don't entirely agree with what he wrote after those lines. But the above lines seem very Campbellian to me.
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Post by Evinnra » Sun Jan 17, 2010 4:56 am

Thank you for posting this link S_Watson. Although some of the koans are written with an attitude of promoting exclusions , I could fully agree with koan 8 and 9 .
'A fish popped out of the water only to be recaptured again. It is as I, a slave to all yet free of everything.'
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Post by noman » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:43 am

Hello Watson and Evinnra,

I think the blogger is a bit too defensive of Catholicism as the one and only Christian religion. Everyone has a right to their opinion. But my interpretation of Campbell is that he didn’t like to rank one religion or denomination over others. When confronted with the many ‘truths’ of Protestant denominations he would probably quote the Vedas, “Truth is one. The sages speak of it in many ways.”

I think of the word ‘koan’ as usually used in a different way. Traditional koans often have two forms. One is that of a question that presents a paradox: ‘What face did you have before you were born?’ Another is a story or dialog with a moral message. A parable. I remember one Zen koan I read long ago. Trying to recall it from memory.

A soldier visited a Zen master and asked, “Is there really a Heaven and Hell?”

The master replied, “Who is asking this question?”

The soldier told the teacher he was a samurai. “You, a samurai?” the master said with a smile. “Who on earth would hire you as a guard? You look more like a beggar to me.” With this remark the soldier reached for his sword.

“So you have a sword,” the master continued, “but it is surely too dull to cut off my head.”

Angered further the soldier drew his sword completely. “Here open the gates of Hell”, the master told him. The soldier, realizing the teacher’s method, sheathed his sword and bowed gracefully. “And here,” said the master, “open the gates of Heaven.”

Parables and paradoxes. That is what I would expect of a Christian or Catholic koan. Not explicit answers. I think the word ‘koan’ is used here to give the blog a bit of a new-agey ring. A ring maybe, or more like – the sound of a gong.

- NoMan
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Post by Andreas » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:58 am

Hey everyone,

Noman, this is just amazing! Thanks for sharing.
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki