5 Zen Koans and My understanding of Them

5 Zen Koans and My understanding of Them


1. “Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.

One said, “The flag moves.”

The other said, “The wind moves.”

They argued back and forth but could not agree.

Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves.”

The two monks were struck with awe.”

This Koan, in my understanding, demonstrates how we people are getting carried out by movement of the world, something we don’t have control of when all we can control is our mind. It is possible that flag moves, the wind moves but we don’t have any control of that, we have control of the observer of that phenomenon, our mind. We can observe the mind and manage it when it moves.

2. “What is your original face before you were born?”

Meditating on that Koan brought to me to answer that is “No Face is my face before I was born”. I don’t have a master to check my answer with, so all I can suggest is the next explanation to that answer:

“When the fetus is being developed it is developed of the mergence of cells that is male sperm and female ovum. During evolution in the womb, the cells divide and form the fetus. Cells don’t have faces, thus the answer no face.”

3. “When the many that are reduced to one, to what is the one reduced?”

My answer to this Koan is to none. The one is reduced to none. As Tao Te Ching states where is one there are two, where are two there are three, where are three there is infinity. So the one that is left out of many returns to none.

Or maybe I’m simply attached to nothingness, as some Zen masters would state.

4.  “As the roof was leaking, a Zen Master told two monks to bring something to catch the water. One brought a tub, the other a basket. The first was severely reprimanded, the second highly praised.”

In my understanding, the master wanted to emphasize how freedom of the flow is necessary. While the tub blocks the water, the basket lets it spread and by that not limiting the greater purpose.

5. “If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.”

Not literary of course. You simply have to observe the powers and become intelligent enough to not be attached to the fact that you have met a superior being. Cause it is only the mind creates superior. If everything has a nature of Buddha, how come there is even such term as Buddha?

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