Saturday, October 25, 2008

Broken Koans and other Zen debris

Hui Neng once approached a student who was sitting in meditation. "Why do you spend so much time sitting?" he asked. "Because I want to become a Buddha," the student replied.
At this, Hui Neng picked up a brick tile from the floor, and began rubbing it with his robe. "Why are you doing that?" asked the student. "Because I want to make a mirror," Hui Neng replied.
"But Master," said the student, "no amount of -- oh, wait, I get it! Very funny, very funny."

Two monks were arguing about a flag. One said, "The flag is moving."
The other said, "The wind is moving."
Julian Barbour happened to be passing by. He told them, "Not the wind, not the flag."
The first monk said, "Is the mind moving?"
Barbour replied, "Not even mind is moving."
The second monk said, "Is time moving?"
Barbour said, "There is no time. You could say that it is mu-ving."
"Then why do we think that flags flap, and wind blows, and minds change, and time moves?" inquired the first monk.
Barbour thought, and said, "Because you remember."

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: "I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."
"Beats the hell out of me," Tenno replied without hesitation.
"Ah," said Nan-in, "Have some tea."
"Word," replied Tenno.

Broken Koans and other Zen debris

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