Zen Parables to Live By

I.
Hyakujo wished to send a monk to open a new monastery. He told his pupils that whoever answered a question most ably would be appointed. Placing a water vase on the ground, he asked: "Who can say what this is without calling its name?"

The chief monk said: "No one can call it a wooden shoe."

Isan, the cooking monk, tipped over the vase with his shoe and went out.

Hyakujo smiled and said: "The chief monk loses." And Isan became the master of the new monastery.

II.

Zen Master Gutei raised his finger whenever he was asked a question about Zen. A young novice began to imitate him in this way. When Gutei was told about the novice's imitation, he sent for him and asked him if it was true. The novice admitted it was so. Gutei asked him if he understood. In reply the novice held up his index finger. Gutei promptly cut it off. The novice ran from the room, howling in pain. As he reached the threshold, Gutei called, "Boy!" When the novice turned, Gutei raised his index finger. At that instant the novice was enlightened.

III.

One day Tokusan told his student Ganto, "I have two monks who have been here for many years. Go and examine them." Ganto picked up an ax and went to the hut where the two monks were meditating. He raised the ax, saying, "If you say a word I will cut off your heads; and if you do not say a word, I will also cut off your heads." Both monks continued their meditation as if he had not spoken. Ganto dropped the ax and said, "You are true Zen students." He returned to Tokusan and related the incident. "I see your side well," Tokusan agreed, "but tell me, how is their side?" "Tozan may admit them," replied Ganto, "but they should not be admitted under Tokusan."


[PT]
Royce D. Williams (royce@tycho.org)
Document title: http://www.alaska.net/~royce/Funny/zen.utxt
Last updated: 2016-10-15