Blue Cliff’s Notes

Answering All Of Your Zen Koans


What is the Sound of One Hand Clapping?    By definition it takes two hands to clap. Faulty question. Next.


If a Tree Falls in the Woods and No One is Around to Hear It (Does It Make A Sound)?    Leave a tape recorder in the woods. It’s not a person so the “no one around” qualification is met. It will definitively measure any present sounds. Duh/Next.


Has the Dog a Buddha Nature?    Depends on the dog. Need more specifics.


The World is Vast and Wide. Why do you put on your Robes at The Sound of a Bell?    Non-sequitur.  Quoth the Pterodactyl LP Player, “it’s a living.”


Nan-in pours tea for the professor and when the cup is full keeps on pouring. The professor protests, “It has overflown. No more will go in.” Nan-in rebuts, “like this cup you are full of your own opinions. How can I teach you Zen unless you empty your cup?”?    Tea is hot. The professor is right not to empty his cup until Nan-in stops pouring as he does not want to burn his hand.


Shuzan held out his short staff and said, “If you call this a short staff, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short staff, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?”    A short staff.


Wakuan complained when he saw a picture of bearded Bodhidharma, “Why hasn’t that fellow a beard?”    Hey. Dum-dum. You JUST SAID HE HAD A BEARD. Contradictory! Also: trying too hard. Feels forced. D- work, Wakuan. See me after class.


Getsuan said to this students: `Keichu, the first wheel-maker of China, made two wheels of fifty spokes each. Now, suppose you removed the nave uniting the spokes. What would become of the wheel? And had Keichu done this could he be called the master wheel-maker?’     1. It would be much less structurally sound. 2. No. Absolutely not. He would be one of the worst wheel-makers– an apprentice, tops.


How would you speak with your mouth shut?    Through puppets. It’s called ventriloquism. It’s back in a big way and it brought along its vaudevillian friend, Creepy Ethnic Grotesques. (Sad).


A monk asked Tozan, “How can we escape the cold and heat?” Tozan replied, “Why not go where there is no cold and heat?” “Is there such a place?” the monk asked. Tozan commented, “When cold, be thoroughly cold; when hot, be hot through and through.” “Like the McDLT?” the monk felt out. “Precisely,” Tozan extrapolated, “The sandwich in and of itself was ‘cool,’ while it also contributed to global ‘warm’ing. Bonus.”


Yunmen used the staff to instruct the assembly and said, “The staff changes and becomes a dragon. However, it swallows Heaven and Earth completely! Mountains, rivers, and the great earth—from where are they able to come?”    The agglomeration of dust and other particles in space, I think. I forget. Gravity is involved, and stars probably. It’s been a long time since I was in college.


Betty or Veronica?    Jughead. Come on, Arch– don’t Larry Craig these broads.


A student once asked: “If I haven’t anything in my mind, what shall I do?”
Joshu replied: “Throw it out.”
“But if I haven’t anything, how can I throw it out?” continued the questioner.
“Well,” said Joshu, “maybe you forgot to STAMP it!” and then he stomped on his foot.



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