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Zen Koans Thoughts and Philosophy

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I thought of this while talking of Zen in another thread.

I myself am not a full believer in Zen only. I find it interesting and if you can adopt some ideas it CAN help you out in life.

So I figured I'll post some stories and Koans from a great book called Zen Flesh Zen Bones.


First the story of the Bull


1 The Search for the Bull

In the pature of this world, I endlessly push aside the tall grasses in search of the bull.

Following unnamed rivers, lost upon the interpenetrating paths of distant mountains,

My strength failing and my vitalty exhausted,

I cannot find the bull.

I only hear locusts chirring through the forest at night


comment: The bull was never lost. What need is there to search? Only because of seperation from my true nature, I fail to find him. In the confusionof the senses I lose even his tracks. Far from home, I see many crossroads, but which way is the right one I know not. Greed and fear, good and bad, entangle me.


2 Discovering the Footprints

Along the riverbank under the trees, I discover footprints! Even under this fragrant grass I see his prints. Deep in remote mountains they are found. these traces no more can be hidden than one's nose, loookinh heavanward.


comment: Understanding the teaching , I see the footprints of the bull. Then I learn that just as many utensils are made from one metal, so too are the myriad entities made of the fabric of self. Unless I discriminate, how will I percieve the true from the untrue? Not yet having entered the gate, nevertheless I have discerned the path.


3 Perceiving the Bull

I hear the song of the nightingale. The sun is warm, the wind is mild, willows are green along the shore, Here no bull can hide! What artist can draw that massive head, those majestic horns?


comment: Whwn one hears the voice, one can sense it's source. Ass soon as the six senses merge, the gate is entered. Wherever one enters one sees the head of the bull! This unity is like slat in water, like color in dyestuff. The slightest thing is not aprt from self


4 Catching the Bull

I seize him with a terrific struggle. His great will and ppower are inexhaustible. He charges to the high plateau far above the cloud mists, Or in an impenetrable ravine he stands.


comment: He dwelt in the forest a long time, but I caught him today! Infatuation for scenery interferes with his direction. Longing for sweeter grass , he wanders away. His mind still stubborn and unbridled. I f I wish him to submit, I must raise my whip.


5 Taming the Bull

The whip and rope are neccassary, Else he might stray off down some dusty road. Being well trained, he becomes naturally gentle. Then unfettered , he obeys his master.


comment: When one thought arises, another thought follows. When the first springs from enlightenment, all subsequent thoughts are true. Through delusion, one makes eveything untrue. Delusion is not caused by objectivity. Hold the nose-ring tight and do not allow even a doubt.


6 Riding the Bull Home

Mounting the bull, slowly I return homeward. The voice of my flute intones through the evening. Measuring with handbeats the pulsating harmony, I direct the endless rhythm. Whoever hears this melody will join me.


comment:The struggle is over: gain and loss are assimilated. I sing the song of the village woodsman and play the tunes of the children. Astride the bull , I observe the clouds above. Onward I go, no matter who may wish to call me back


7 The Bull Transcended

Astride the bull, I reach home. I am serene, The bull too can rest. The dawn has come. In blissful repose, within my thatched dwelling I have abanded the whip and rope.


comment: All is one law, not two. We only make the bull a temporary subject. It is as the relation of rabbit and trap, of fish and net. It is as gold and dross, or the moon emerging from a cloud. One path of clear light travels on throughout endless time


8 Both Bull & Self Transcended

Whip, rope, person, and bull - merge in No-Thing.

This heavan is so vast no message can stain it. How may a snowflake exist in a raging fire? Here are the footprints of the patriarchs.


comment Mediocrity is gone. Mind is clear of limitation. I seek no state of enlightenment. Neither do I remain where no enlightenment exists. Since I lingeer in neither condition, eyes cannot see me. If hundreds of birds strew my path with flowers, such praise would be meaningless.


9 reaching the Source

Too many steps have been taken returning to the root and the source. Better to have been blind and deaf from the beginning! Dwelling in one's true abode, unconcerned with that without-

The river flows tranquilly on and the flowers are red.


comment: From the beginning , truth is clear. Poised in silence, I observe the forms of integration and disintergration. One who is not attached to "form" need not be "reformed". The water is emerald the mountain is indigo, and I see that which is creating and that which is destroying.


10 In the World

Barefooted and naked of breast, I mingle with the people of the world. My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am eer blissful. I use no magic to extend my life: Now before me, the dead trees become alive.


comment: Inside my gate , a thousand sages do not know me. The beauty of my garden is invisable. Why should one search for the footprints of the patriarchs? OI go to the marketplace with my wine bottle and return home with my staff. I visit the wineshop and the market, and everyone I look upon becomes enlightened.


The End



tired...hopefully you might enjoy it. I'll some Koans(Zen Puzzles) next if anyone is interested.

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Guest --zeSto--

here's some of my favorite, simple zen stories


A Taoist story tells of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a high and dangerous waterfall. Onlookers feared for his life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed downstream at the bottom of the falls. People asked him how he managed to survive. "I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me. Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived."



Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know it's nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."




A dramatic ballad singer studied under a strict teacher who insisted that he rehearse day after day, month after month the same passage from the same song, without being permitted to go any further. Finally, overwhelmed by frustration and despair, the young man ran off to find another profession. One night, stopping at an inn, he stumbled upon a recitation contest. Having nothing to lose, he entered the competition and, of course, sang the one passage that he knew so well. When he had finished, the sponsor of the contest highly praised his performance. Despite the student's embarrassed objections, the sponsor refused to believe that he had just heard a beginner perform. "Tell me," the sponsor said, "who is your instructor? He must be a great master." The student later became known as the great performer Koshiji.




A master calligrapher was writing some characters onto a piece of paper. One of his especially perceptive students was watching him. When the calligrapher was finished, he asked for the student's opinion - who immediately told him that it wasn't any good. The master tried again, but the student criticized the work again. Over and over, the calligrapher carefully redrew the same characters, and each time the student rejected it. Finally, when the student had turned his attention away to something else and wasn't watching, the master seized the opportunity to quickly dash off the characters. "There! How's that?," he asked the student. The student turned to look. "THAT.... is a masterpiece!" he exclaimed.



click here for many more zen stories

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Here's one of my favorites and one of the first stories I've ever heard.



Muddy Road


Tanzan and Ekido were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

"Come on, girl," said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arm, as he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he told Tanzan, "especially noy young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"

"I left the girl there," said Tanzan. "Are you still carrying her?"


I think that whole story can be beneficial to my thinking. The one monk helped a girl and moved on, not even thinking twice about it. But the second monk was so upset he kept thinking about her. Which is the worst?

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Guest --zeSto--

I read that one quite some time ago,

then after a depressing encounter with a girl,

found it again. It's utterly profound.

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Guest --zeSto--

May Be


There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said sympathetically. "May be," the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed. "May be," replied the old man. The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. "May be," answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. " May be ," said the farmer.

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Guest im not witty

these are my favorites.


a monk went walking one day. along his walk he came upon a vicious tiger that began to chase him. he ran and ran until he came to a cliff, so he shimmied down and was hanging over the edge of said cliff. As he looked down he saw more tigers on an extension below him. he knew his

end was near. just then, he looked over and saw a strawberry growing next to him. he thought "what a perfect strawberry." and he plucked and ate it.


a woman sought out the wise sage at the top of the mountain. upon the end of a treacherous journey she found him. she said " i want to learn everything there is to know. so he gave her armloads of books and sent her off to begin reading/learning. the next day he came and asked "have you learned everything yet?' no she replied, and he whacked her with his cane. the next day the same, the sage asks and she replies no, and again she is beaten.

this continues for a week. on the eighth day he comes again and asks "have you learned everything there is to know?" no she replies, he moves to strike her but she catches his staff mid swing.

"congratulations" says the sage. you have now learned everything you NEED to know. youve learned you can never learn everything,

and youve learned how to stop the pain.



this thread rules.

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releasing our cows


A lot of joy and happines comes from getting away or leaving something behind. Suppose you are suffering from the noise, pollution, and stresses of the city. It is Friday afternoon, and you want to get away. You get in your car and drive away. once youre in the countryside with the beatiful trees, the blue sky, and the bird song, you feel joy. The joy you experience from being in the countryside is born from having abandoned the city, from leaving something behind.


There are many things we are unable to leave behind us, which trap us. practice looking deeply into these things. in the beggining, you may think that they are vital to your happiness, but they may actually be obstacles to your true happiness, causing you to suffer. if you are not able to be happy because you are by them, leaving them behind will be a sourve of joy for you.


one day the Buddha was sitting with a group of monks in the woods near the city of Sravasti. They had just finished a mindful lunch and were engaged in a small Dharma discussion.

Suddenly a farmer came by. He was visible upset and shouted, "Monks! Have you seen my cows?"

The Buddha said, "No, we have not seen any cows."

"You know, monks," the man said, "I am the most miserable person on earth. For some reason my 12 cows all ran away this morning. i have only two acres of sesame seed plants and this year the insects ate them all. i think i am going to kill myself." The farmer was really suffering.

Out of compassion, the Buddha said, "No, sir, we have not seen you cows. Maybe you should look for them elsewhere."

When the farmer was gone, the Buddha turned to his monks, looked at them deeply, smiled, and said, "Dear friends, do you know that you are the happiest people on earth? You dont have any cows to lose."


So my friends, if you have cows, look deeply into the nature of your cows to see whether they have been bringing you happiness or suffering. You should learn the art of releasing your cows. The key thing is to let go and free yourself...


There is a poem that describes the Buddha in this way: "The Buddha is like a full moon sailing across the empty sky." The Buddha had a lot of space around him because he did not possess anything. He didnt have any cows. That is why his happiness was immense...

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after reading this entire thread i am quite impressed in these stories , the first post was somewhat confusing , but i really liked the two stories posted by im not witty , i also read a good bit of that link , here are my favs so far :


A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor's cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. "It's overfull! No more will go in!" the professor blurted. "You are like this cup," the master replied, "How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup


The great Taoist master Chuang Tzu once dreamt that he was a butterfly fluttering here and there. In the dream he had no awareness of his individuality as a person. He was only a butterfly. Suddenly, he awoke and found himself laying there, a person once again. But then he thought to himself, "Was I before a man who dreamt about being a butterfly, or am I now a butterfly who dreams about being a man?"

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i just stumbled upon this .....its just a different version of the one WITTY posted for those who care..........


One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Desperate to save himself, he climbed down a vine and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed on the vine a plump wild strawberry. He plucked it and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious!

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There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life.

One day he passed a wealthy merchant's house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. "How powerful that merchant must be!" thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.


To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. "How powerful that official is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a high official!"


Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. "How powerful the sun is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the sun!"


Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. "How powerful that storm cloud is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a cloud!"


Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. "How powerful it is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be the wind!"


Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it - a huge, towering rock. "How powerful that rock is!" he thought. "I wish that I could be a rock!"


Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. "What could be more powerful than I, the rock?" he thought.


He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.

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holy crap , i just read all of those stories , they really make you think , some i didnt get though...........now im goin to sleep

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this shits funny


this is taken from this doods online journal i read pretty regularly. always got some funny shit in there...


Something I’ll probably never grasp: Zen.


In my early twenties I was fairly lost and sought solace in books. If there was ever a time I would’ve slipped into religion, that would have been it, but the closest I came was cracking a few books about Buddhism. I couldn’t grasp it, the dharma eluded me.


Me and Lam have the same oversimplified understanding of Buddhism: While most religions feel some moral imperative to Fight Evil, Buddhists are essentially okay with Evil. While they don’t propagate it, they understand Evil as a component of human nature, part of the yin/yang, and are content to let it lie.


If that’s right then Buddhists probably make great therapists, but lousy homicide detectives.



BUDDHIST COP #1: Someday we’ll find the killer...


BUDDHIST COP #2: ...but if we don’t, hey, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.


BUDDHIST COP #1: It’s all part of the Circle of Life.


BUDDHIST COP #2: You gotcher Yin, you gotcher Yang.


VICTIM’S WIFE: Good christ, what are you saying? My husband has been murdered! Someone has to pay for this! It’s your duty to track them down!


BUDDHIST COP #1: Take it easy, lady...don’t be such a dharma queen.


BUDDHIST COP #2: Ha ha ha!


BUDDHIST COP #1: Ha ha ha!


BUDDHIST COP #2: Let’s get some more cookies, my belly’s not round enough.

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Guest --zeSto--

hahaha The budha Belly !!!


here's a joke ....


Lama to the hotdaog vendor : Make me one with everything.

Hotdog vendor to Lama : Ok that's 2 bucks.

The lama gives him a ten.

Lama to hotdog vendor: Where's my change?

Hotdog Vendor to Lama: But Change comes from within!

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Guest --zeSto--

I call my beer gut, my 'budha belly'.


Girls find that cute... really they do!

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You can't go wrong with a hot dog vendor and Dali Lama joke.

Was the Dali Lama the costar or was it the HOTDOGS?

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Guest --zeSto--

re: the above joke


The real star of the joke, was a few small coins.

But does the dali lama have pockets to hold those coins?

Where would he put the coins and what would he do with them later?

That is the mystery of all mysteries.

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wise man once say "one who go to bed with itchy bum will awake with stinky finger".



think about it.

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