Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 762 (Tidbits)

If you've been following along, the last post should have gotten your head a little distance away from "Western World View" and this will continue for the Day 762 entry on THE 800 DAYS blog. More ZEN references and details are on the 800 Days blog.

In the spirit of Zen, I thought I'd add some little stories here to coincide with the Zen tidbits that Blake has written about...

Here's a little "Zen" story...

"Eat The Blame"

Some unforseen circumstances arose one day and delayed the preparation of dinner for a Soto Zen master, Fukai, along with his dedicated followers. In great haste, the cook tried to make up for lost time. He ran out to the garden with his curved blade and quickly cut off the tops of various green vegetables. He then chopped the vegetable tops all up and threw them in a pot, fashioning a fast soup recipe. In his haste in the garden, the cook was unaware that, along with the vegetable tops, he'd also included a chunk of snake in the recipe...

Fukai's followers believed they had never tasted such delicious soup before but when Master Fukai, himself, found the snake's head in his own soup bowl, he immediately summoned the cook...

"What is this?" Fukai demanded - holding out the head of the snake.
Thinking most quickly and brilliantly, the cook said, 
"Oh, thank you, master!"

The cook took the snake's head as if it were a tender, tasty delicacy - and HE ATE IT - then performed a respectful bow...

How's THAT for quick thinking??

And another little Eastern derived story:

"Sound of One Hand"

Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was the master of Kennin Temple. Toya, 12 years old, was Mokurai's little protege. Now, Toya watched the older disciples as they visited Master Mokurai's room each morning and each evening. The disciples received instruction in the disciplines of sanzen or personal guidance and they received koans from the master to stop their minds from wandering.

Young Toyo also wished to do sanzen.

"Wait a while - you are too young" Mokurai told Toyo.

But young Toyo kept insisting, so after many requests from Toyo, Mokurai finally obliged...

That very evening, little Toyo showed up at the proper time to Mokurai's sanzen room. Toyo struck the gong to announce his presence, then bowed respectfully three times while outside the door before entering to sit before the master in respectful silence.

"You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together." Mokurai stated. "Now, show me the sound of one hand."

Toyo bowed then went to his room to carefully consider this problem. From his open window, he could hear the sound of music from the geishas. After listening a while, "Ah! I have it!" Toyo said.

On the next evening, when the master asked Toyo to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

"No, no," corrected Mokurai, "That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You've not got it at all."

Toyo left again - to think on the problem of the sound of one hand. He felt that music might interupt his thoughts so to ponder over the sound of one hand, he choose a different location than before. This time, he selected a very quiet place. He meditated again, wondering, "Now what can the sound of one hand be?" At this time and location he heard the sound of water dripping. "I have it now" thought Toyo.

When Toyo went before his master again, he imitated the sound of dripping water.

"And what is that now?" asked Mokurai... "That is the sound of dripping water - not the sound of one hand. Try again."

Toyo tried to meditate upon what must be the sound of one hand clapping. He heard the sighing of the wind. When he took this explanation and sound to his teacher, this, like the previous assertions, met with rejection.

The sound of one hand was not the music of the geishas, not the sound of dripping water, not the sound of a sighing wind, or of the cry of an own - or of locusts - or anything else Toyo managed to assert to his master over several days and evenings. After 10 times, Toyo still had not been able to come to the master and say what the sound of one hand was.

Finally, Toyo entered into a meditation that transcended all sounds... when he visited his master after this,

"Master, I could collect no more - so I reached the soundless sound..."

Toyo had finally realized the sound of one hand.

Hopefully these little Zen stories fit in well with the Day 762 post on The 800 Days blog. At the 800 Days blog, you'll also find a few words about writing a Chinese poem, so I hope you'll allow these eastern tidbits take your outside of western world view in your mind for just a little while. It's always a good exercise for the mind to think outside the box, take on a different viewpoint for a little while.

I've found many Zen stories quite full of humour and wisdom at the same time...also, they are occassionally full of a practicality and simplicity that will make you laugh at how your own mind will try to complicate a situation provided in a short Zen story.

I hope you will enjoy the koan/Zen stories as much as I have. Reading the Day 762 prompted me to look up more Eastern "koan" pieces and THERE ARE MANY. In the course of the 800 Day Countdown, I'm sure I will return to posting some KOAN tidbits again, so watch for them...

Day 762 in the 800 Day Countdown is from Friday November 19, 2010.

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