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Zen Koans

Selected and edited by M. Divjak


Contents

    What to answer
    Wash the bowl
    Three calls
    Not the wind, not the flag
    Three pounds of flax
    How to call a short staff
    A cup of tea
    The stone in mind
    Prvo načelo
    Dekle in luža
    Ti nisi jaz
    Goska v steklenici


What to answer

    Pupil: "In Zen this very mind is Buddha. Is this correct?"
    Teacher: "If I say yes, you will think that you understand
    without understanding. If I say no, I would be contradicting a
    fact which many understand quite well."


Wash the bowl

    Pupil: "I have just entered the monastery.  Please teach me."
    Teacher: "Have you eaten your rice porridge?" 
    Pupil: "I have eaten." 
    Teacher: "Then you had better wash your bowl."


Three calls

    Teacher: "Pupil."
    Pupil: "Yes."
    Teacher: "Pupil."
    Pupil: "Yes."
    Teacher: "Pupil."
    Pupil: "Yes."
    Teacher: "I ought to apologize to you for all this calling,  but
    really you ought to apologize to me."


Not the wind, not the flag

    Two monks are arguing about a flag.
    First monk: "The flag is moving."
    Second monk: "The wind is moving."
    Teacher: "Not the wind, not the flag; the mind is moving."


Three pounds of flax

    Teacher is weighing some flax.
    Pupil: "What  is Buddha?"
    Teacher: "This flax weighs three pounds."


How to call a short staff?

    Teacher shows his short staff to his pupils: "If you call this a
    short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a
    short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call
    this?"


A cup of tea

    The teacher received a monk who came to inquire about Zen.
    Teacher served tea.  He poured his visitor's cup full, and then
    kept on pouring.  The monk watched the owerflow until he no
    longer could restrain himself.
    Monk: "It is overfull. No more will go in!"
    Teacher: "Like this cup, you are full of your own opinions and
    speculations.  How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your
    cup?"


The stone in mind

    Two monks are arguing about subjectivity and objectivity.
    Teacher: "There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside
    or outside your mind?"
    One monk: "From the Buddhist viewpoint, everything is an
    objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside
    my mind."
    Teacher: "Your head must feel very heavy, if you are carrying a
    stone like that in your mind."


Prvo načelo

    Učitelja so vprašali: "Kaj je prvo načelo?"
    Odgovoril je: "Če bi vam povedal, bi postalo drugo načelo."


Dekle in luža

    Učitelj in učenec sta šla po blatni cesti. Naletela sta na
    ljubko dekle v svilenem kimonu, ki ni vedelo, kako bi prišlo
    čez lužo. "Pridi, dekle," je rekel učitelj, jo dvignil in
    prenesel čez blatno mlakužo.  Učenec ni spregovoril, dokler
    nista pod večer prispela do hrama. Tedaj se ni mogel več
    zadržati: "Mi redovniki se ne dotikamo žensk. Zakaj si tisto
    storil?" "Dekle sem pustil tam," je odgovoril učitelj, "ali jo
    ti še vedno nosiš?"


Ti nisi jaz

    Učitelj se je s prijateljem sprehajal ob reki: "Kako božansko
    se ribe v vodi radostijo življenja!" "Ti nisi riba," mu je
    oporekal prijatelj, "kako torej veš , da se ribe veselijo
    življenja?" "Ti nisi jaz," mu je odvrnil učitelj, "kako torej
    veš , da jaz ne vem, da se ribe veselijo življenja?"


Goska v steklenici

    Visoki uradnik je vprašal učitelja: "V davnih časih je živel
    človek, ki je imel gosko v steklenici. Rasla je, dokler ni mogla
    več ven; človek ni hotel razbiti steklenice niti poškodovati
    goske − kako bi jo ti spravil ven?" Mojster je vzkliknil: "O,
    uradnik!" Uradnik je odgovoril: "Da?" "No, pa je zunaj," je rekel
    mojster.

M. Divjak