Saturday, July 16, 2005

Now, as already explained, in Zen Buddhism, you do not study the sutras to seek enlightenment. Instead, you find yourself a teacher, who tells you stories, or sayings or whatever, and you have to come to an understanding of these.

But, currently lacking a teacher, I have, out of necessity, resorted to books. A stopgap measure, but one that has already achieved results. Of a sort.

I have been reading the koans of The Gateless Gate.

Once again, I am reassured that this is the right path for me. Witness the seventh koan:

Once a monk made a request of Joshu. "I have just entered the monastery," he said. "Please give me instructions, Master." Joshu said, "Have you had your breakfast?" "Yes I have," replied the monk. "Then," said Joshu, "wash your bowls." The monk had an insight.

From this, we learn two things.

One: Enlightenment really is funny.

Possibly, if I achieve enlightenment (satori), I will always get the punchline. A worthy goal, especially as I am still trying, years later, to understand what it is that you do with the three seashells. (Ah, yes, the questions that are left by action movies.)

Two: Even monks and Zen Masters don't like washing the dishes.