how do you explore zen koans, without the evaluation and sheer presence of a "master"?

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Sorry, I dont know.
All the best.


any “master” cannot give you the answer, because your answer may not be anyone else’s…when you find you no longer seek the answer, then you;ve found it


You can’t. Without guidance of some sort, koans seem meaningless.
This is a famous koan that many have spend years meditating on:
“When your mind is not dwelling on the dualism of good and evil, what is your original face before you were born?”
Without a teacher, you won’t get far with it. A teacher is essential, at least in the early stages of zen practice.


Your question is PERFECT, since you recognize that something more is needed other than just rational thought.
A koan brings a suspension of thought so that Pure Spirit can be experienced. So the idea is the suspension of thought, not the Koan itself.
This is about being “in Spirit” This is a good resource to understand what the ultimate goal is… or the purpose of the koan. It can be done… you don’t have to travel to the Far East to get it.


There’s nothing stopping you from pondering a Zen koan on your own, but at least in the early going it’s very helpful to have a master/teacher so you can be watchful for any pitfalls in how your thinking is running.
I think you can explore koans on your own, but be patient and don’t expect TOO much, especially if you’re new to Zen.


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