Kōan 42: My Heart Burns Like Fire

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: “My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes.” He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life. In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate. Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the … Continue reading Kōan 42: My Heart Burns Like Fire

Kōan 40: Mokusen’s Hand

Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife. Mokusen visited the adherent’s wife and showed her his clenched fist before her face. “What do you mean by that?” asked the surprised woman. “Suppose my fist were always like that. What would you call it?” he asked. “Deformed,” replied the woman. … Continue reading Kōan 40: Mokusen’s Hand

Kōan 2: A Cup of Tea

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” “Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions … Continue reading Kōan 2: A Cup of Tea

Kōan 1: A Buddha

In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha’s precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o’clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. When he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt … Continue reading Kōan 1: A Buddha

A Story and Introduction to Kōans

Recently I bought the Blu-Ray set for Avatar the Last Airbender because who doesn’t need some Uncle Iroh in their life? I guess I’ve been stressed and conflicted a lot lately, and I just felt like Iroh has always had a calming effect on me. I mean I even named my dog Mako after Iroh’s original voice actor, so clearly there’s something to the character’s … Continue reading A Story and Introduction to Kōans