Zen Koan

A puzzle used by Zen masters hoping to provoke a satori in their students.

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  • The Living Buddha & the Tubmaker—Zen masters give personal guidance in a secluded room. No one enters while teacher and pupil are together. Mokurai, the Zen master of Kennin temple in Kyoto, used to enjoy talking with merchants and newspapermen as well as with his pupils. A certain tubmaker was almost illiterate. He would ask foolish questions of Mokurai, have tea, and then go away. One day while the tubmaker was there Mokurai wished to give personal guidance to a disciple, so he asked the tubmaker to wait in another room. "I understand you are a living Buddha," the man protested. "Even the stone Buddhas in the temple never refuse the numerous persons who come together before them. Why then should I be excluded?" Mokurai had to go outside to see his disciple.

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