Thursday, December 14

101 Zen Koans – Numbers 63 & 64

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For hundreds of years, the secret doctrines of Zen have been transmitted from master to student in the form of seemingly absurd riddles or parables called koans. Intense meditation upon these is said to lead to enlightenment.

These koans were translated into English from a book called the Shaseki-shu (Collection of Stone and Sand), written late in the thirteenth century by the Japanese Zen master Muju (the “non-dweller”), and from anecdotes of Japanese Zen monks taken from various books published around the turn of the 20th century.

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63.   Killing

Gasan instructed his adherents one day:

“Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism.”

64.   Kasan Sweat

Kasan was asked to officiate at the funeral of a provincial lord.

He had never met lords and nobles before so he was nervous. When the ceremony started, Kasan began to sweat.

Afterwards, when he had returned, he gathered his pupils together. Kasan confessed that he was not yet qualified to be a teacher for he lacked the sameness of bearing in the world of fame that he possessed in the secluded temple. Then Kasan resigned and became the pupil of another master. Eight years later he returned to his former pupils, enlightened.

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