Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Don't fret about gloves and glasses

Yesterday I told a friend of mine (it turns out, half of) an old Zen story about love. It's kind of good, when you grok it:
Ungan asks Dogo,
What does Kanzeon*, the bodhisattva Great Love, do with all those hands and eyes?

Dogo answers,
It is like someone adjusting his pillow in the middle of the night.


So, how do you see this?

The whole body is hands and eyes.

Very good! But you managed to say maybe 80%.

Ungan replies,
Well then, what would you say, my friend?

Dogo exclaims,
The entire body is hands and eyes!
 My thought for the day: everything else is just gloves and glasses.

*) Kanzeon (Jap.), or Quan-yin (Chin.), Chenrezig (Tib) or Avalokiteshvara (Skt.) is the embodiment, expression and 'main spokesperson' of love and compassion in Mahayana Buddhism. (S)he is often depicted with 1.000 hands and eyes, illustrating complete insight and activity.

this story is my retelling of the 89th case of The Blue Cliff Record


  1. Ik heb altijd enige moeite om die zen-koans te begrijpen. Betekent dat nou dat ik ze wèl of juist niet begrijp?

  2. De truuk is (in zoverre er sprake is van een truuk) ervan uitgaan dat het show is, niet tell.

  3. By the way: don't assume Dogo's answer is better dan Ungan's. Personally I feel it smells of ripe fish...