- 1 Zen Koans
The Shortest Theological Debate in History
Ho Chi Zen: "What is God like?"
Tom: "Somebody. I don't care."
Everyone a Zen Master
Here is a spiritual exercise that will help you apply Laughing Buddha Jesus' advice about loving one another.
As you are walking the streets or riding a public conveyance imagine yourself the father or mother or each person you look at - regardless of age. See all adults as your grown children, contemplating them one at a time even if that makes you feel a hundred years old.
Or imagine that every man or woman you pass or encounter is a Zen master - each with her or his own method of teaching. Sometimes they will sense your respect for them and will glance at you and grin. Take the dress and posture of each individual as evidence of his or her style of expressing enlightenment. Hear every scrap of conversation as a Zen riddle.
And never forget the saying, "Tao is your everyday mind."
One of Ho Chi Zen's students asked him, "What was the occasion of your enlightenment?"
Ho replied: "I forget."
Reader's Digest Zen
This true story was actually published in one of the humor sections of Reader's Digest many years ago:
At an interdenominational religious conference in Hawaii, a Japanese delegate approached a fundamentalist Baptist minister and said, "My humble superstition is Buddhism. What is yours?"
Three in the Morning
Chuang Tzu said: "A keeper of monkeys told them, 'I will give you three nuts in the morning and four in the evening.' That made them mad, so he said, 'Very well. I will give you four in the morning and three in the evening.' That made them happy."
Zenarchist Coffee Drinking Ceremony
One of the few formalities of Zenarchy, the Coffee Drinking Ceremony must be observed in strict conformity with the following procedure:
Roll five joints of high quality marijuana and prepare one large pot of very stron coffee. Place these items in the center of a kitchen table together with a book of matches. Next, place o the table two large earthenware mugs and one simple but attractive ashtray.
Now sit at the table with someone ou love very much and spend the hours from late night until sunrise animating conversation.
Inwardly ovserve the discipline of always keeping in mind a heartache during intervals of the discussion that are light and full of laughter. When you chat of sorrowful things keep in mind something beautiful, funny and hopeful.
Words of a Zen Anarchist Poet
Says Gary Snyder, "Three-fourths of philosophy and literature is the talk of people trying to convince themselves that they really like the cage they were tricked into entering."
Hung Mung, Television Personality
One of the characters to appear in the writings of old Chaung Tzu is Hung Ming, whose name means Primal Chaos, for which reason he was adopted as a Chaoist Sage by the Discordian Society - a nonprophet ireeligious disorganization about which you will learn more and understand less if you read Principia Discordia. As such, he is also a Zenarchist Immortal, for Zenarchy is to Discordianism much as Zenis to Buddhism or Taoism.
In Chuang Tzu he is visited by another character, Great Knowledge, whose inquiries he answers by laughing and slapping his knee and shouting, "I don't know! I don't know!" Great Knowledge persists in questioning Hung Mung, who at last enlightens him with an appropriately chaotic, rambling speech.
Not claiming to know anything, Primal Chaos reveals everything to informed curiosity - though not usually in a very orderly format. In becoming acquainted with this sage who knows nothing and does not care tht he does not know anything, we can learn enough to accomplish nearly anything.
Discordians say you can get a look at Hung Mung by getting stoned and tuning your television to a channel that is not broadcasting. His dancing image will become more and more visible the harder you look for it. And having no sponsors, Hung Mung - they say - is never interrupted by commercials. Zenarchists are skeptical of that much.
Of the same tradition as Hung Mung and Ho Chi Zen is Rabbi Koan, who brings to Zenarchy the sect of Kosher Zen. For much of what Zen sages have called "a special transmission outside the scriptures" of Buddhism, seems to hae been discovered independently by the Hasidic Jews of Eastern Europe who study the oral traditions of the Cabala.
As every reader of Martin Buber is already aware, the Hasidic Zen master, called a Zaddik, is fond of telling all kinds of Kosher Zen stories.
For example, once such a Rabbi entered the sacred meeting house to find his disciples playing checkers. "Ah, ha!" he exclaimed. "Do you know the rules to the game of checkers?" Too taken back to answer, the young men maintained a guilty silence. So the Rabbi said: "Very well, I will instruct you in the rules to checkers. The first rule is that you can only move forward. The second rule is that you can only make one move at a time. And the third rule is that, upon reaching the back row, you may move in any direction you wish!"
Another Hasidic tale concerns a student who undertook a food and water fast for one week. On his way to see the Rabbi on the last hour of his fast, he went by a well. Overwhelmed by temptation, he drew a bucketof water. As his lips touched the ladle, he decided that to yield to thirst would wipe out a week's work. So he went off to the meeting house instead. When he entered the Rabbi looked at him and said, "Patchwork!"
The Forgotten Sage
In Flight of the White Crows, John Berry reminds us that Chaung Tzu says the true sage is absent-minded: "The absent-minded man cannot remember his bad deeds; he cannot remember his good deeds.
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