Kong-ans are questions that we work on. They are good practice because they are practice for life. Working on them prepares us for the great natural kong-ans that life so rudely and compassionately presents us with: What must I do to completely let go of my mother and father, and thus become truly mature? How can I clarify my money dharma and achieve right livelihood? What changes do I have to make in myself so that my marriage can become radiant transmission of the Dharma? These natural kong-ans may take years, decades of excruciating work.
Kong-ans practice teaches us to wait under the cloud of unknowing, looking where there is nothing to see, listening where there is nothing to hear. Eventually we understand that all solutions come to us by themselves, from the well-being, if only we stop trying to control. The secret is trust. When we trust ourselves to not-know, we learn how to trust the radiant creativity of the Tao, the intelligence of the universe.
Do you have the patience to wait
till your mud settles and the water is clear?
Can you remain unmoving
till the right action arises by itself?
The Master doesn’t seek fulfillment.
Not seeking, not expecting,
she is present, and can welcome all things.
Tao Te Ching