Had some immersive but troubling dreams last night. I will skip them, and instead bring some koans from NoZen.com.
A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked, "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"
Who are you?
, asked Hakuin.
I am a samurai.
, the warrior replied.
You, a soldier!", exclaimed Hakuin. "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? Your face looks like that of a beggar."
Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword, but Hakuin continued, "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably much too dull to cut off my head."
As Nobushige drew his sword, Hakuin remarked, "Here open the gates of hell!"
At these words, the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, sheathed his sword and bowed.
Here open the gates of paradise.
, said Hakuin.
The stingy senior monk of a mountain temple made a batch of sweet syrup, tasted it, and then carefully put the jug up on a shelf. His young student got none. He even told the student that the syrup was really poison and it would kill him if he ate it.
The boy badly wanted some too, so one day when his master was out he got the jug down. While enjoying the syrup he got some on his robe and in his hair but this did not stop him from enjoying himself. When he was done, he smashed his master's best jug on the walk outside.
The monk came back to find the boy crying as though his heart would break. "What's the matter?" he asked.
sobbed the boy. "I broke your good jug by mistake and I didn't know what you would do to me, and I decided I'd be better off dead, so I ate a big mouthful of that poison you warned me about, but it didn't work. I ate more and when that didn't work I tried smearing it all over my robe and hair but I'm still not dead!
Gordon grew up in the kitchen of his family's restaurant. Eventually he opened his own small country cafe.
Occasionally, one or more of the members of a sexually free commune would eat in Gordon's cafe. Gordon had heard that they sometimes invited outsiders to an orgy. He cultivated one of the women from the commune who was interested in Gordon's Zen of Cooking. Eventually she invited him to the commune for a feast.
Gordon, hoping that "feast" was just another name for orgy, accepted the invitation. At the commune, he was disappointed to see that many of the visitors were couples with children. Gordon new then that there would be no orgy so he concentrated on the food.
At the end of the feat, he prepared to leave and thanked his hostess. She asked him if the food had disappointed him. Gordon said that the food was good, but he admitted that he had secretly hoped the feast was an orgy.
His hostess said, "You always talked to me about food. I thought food was what interested you. Come back tomorrow night and I'll teach you the zen of accepting responsibility for what you want and asking for it."
Hoca borrowed a large pot from his neighbor. Days and weeks went by and he did not return the pot. One day the neighbor stopped by and asked if he could have his pot back. Hoca apologized, "I am sorry, I forgot to return it. But I have good news for you, while in my possesion your pot gave birth to a smaller pot".
So, he sent the happy neighbor home with two pots. Few weeks later Hoca knocked at his neighbor's door and asked if he could again borrow that large pot. The neighbor,after his recent gainful experience, was more than happy to lend his pot to Hoca. When days and weeks went by without a word from Hoca about the pot, the neighbor decided that he'd better go and see about his pot.
When Hoca opened the door, the neighbor asked if he could have his pot back. Hoca with a very sad face informed the man that while in his possesion, the large pot passed away. Shocked by Hoca's audacity, the man got angry and said: "What do you think I am, an idiot to belive that the pot died?"
Why my good man
replied Hoca with a smile, "You had no trouble believing that your pot gave birth?".
Nan-in received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.
Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full and then kept on pouring.
The professor watched the overflow until he could restrain himself no longer. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"
Like this cup
, Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
A monk asked Tozen when he was weighing some flax, "What is Buddha?"
Tozen said, "This flax weighs three pounds."
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