Kōan 32: Inch Time Foot Gem

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others. Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man: Not twice this day Inch time foot gem.This day will not come again. Each minute is worth a priceless gem. Recently … Continue reading Kōan 32: Inch Time Foot Gem

Kōan 28: If You Love, Love Openly

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master. Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting. Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to … Continue reading Kōan 28: If You Love, Love Openly

Kōan 27: How to Write a Chinese Poem

A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem. “The usual Chinese poem is four lines,” he explains. “The first line contains the initial phase; the second line, the continuation of that phase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this: Two … Continue reading Kōan 27: How to Write a Chinese Poem

Kōan 26: How Grass and Trees Become Enlightened

Note: Tendai (天台宗 Tendai-shū) is a Mahayana Buddhist school established in Japan in the year 806 by a monk named Saicho also known as Dengyō Daishi (伝教大師, “The Pure Land School”). During the Kamakura period, Shinkan studied Tendai six years and then studied Zen seven years; then he went to China and contemplated Zen for thirteen years more. When he returned to Japan many desired to interview him … Continue reading Kōan 26: How Grass and Trees Become Enlightened