Saturday, May 7, 2016

Introduction to Forthcoming Book

Introduction To "The Answer To All Koans"
by John Tischer and Robert Arnold Burghardt

"It's either Zen, or it's not."

To explain what this volume is, is to describe
how it came about. Myself and my dear friend,
Robert Arnold Burghardt, have known each
other since our days in college. After college,
we were aware of the other's existence, but 
the times we were in the same place were 
infrequent. Our lives pilgrimages took us in
different but parallel directions. We were both
on a journey of awakening. Arn's tool was, in
the main, Indian Classical Music, whereas mine
was Vajrayana Buddhism under the guidance
of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, the renown
master that facilitated Tibetan Buddhism's 
integration into Western society and culture.

When we reconnected via Skype several years 
ago, we discovered that we had grown more
aware in complementary ways through
our life paths, our spiritual journeys; the reason
being our intent was the same: to find out what
the F... was really going on at all...what was this
thing called life, really?

So, when we began to download our lives journeys
to each other, the experience was a natural 
organic musicians improvising...
like theatrical improvisation. It wasn't telling each
other our stories. It was like unfolding a map of
observations, anecdotes, jokes, tropes, parables.
It wasn't like two tourists showing each other photos
of where they had been. It was spilling the guts of
our experience to each other with the flavor of the
humor and wit and insight we had with each other
from the moment we first met. The fact that we
were both, in essence, heirs of Buddha meant we
had a  common language where we discovered
we suddenly had a larger common vocabulary
whereby to paint our insights to each other. 

We began to come up with material; stories I would
write inspired by our mutual insight, memories of
the path that we shared, bon motes, aphorisms,
koans, tropes, all triggered by this process of
mining our life experiences. An insight we groked
on the spot  would become the inspiration for a
poem. Over a  couple of years we accumulated
this material because we were both inspired by
what was manifesting as a result of this process
of re-knowing each other.

At some point, Arn said to me: "Hey, we've got a lot
of interesting material here...enough for a book!"
The next question was, what to do with it? Months
ensued of deliberation, with some discussion, about
how the material should be many
categories of types of material we had...formats and
such...which process seemed inevitable, but never
got anywhere. 

Then, in conversation, the solution came like a 
diamond bullet between the eyes. There was no 
need to "organize" the material. The way it
manifest; its organic, natural, chaotic, spontaneous
appearance was its form. Like wabi-sabi, there was
no need to organize nature to make it more
beautiful. It didn't have to make sense, the way
scientists split the atom hoping to discover the
true universe. If it raised  questions, if it didn't leave
a trail of bread crumbs to follow, that didn't diminish
it's value. This is not an orderly, progressive, literary
journey. This is more  akin to the travelogues,
(albeit internal), of Issa and  Basho, who would
traverse the country, relating sights and
experiences and writing poems about them
as they went along.

This is the driving of the year nail, the golden spike
that connects the East and the West, the Beat way;
spontaneous non-structure coming out of the
mouths of two old babes


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