I'd like to extend a brief intermission during which the reader can clear his/her mind in preparation for the next installment. Think of this as a literary sorbet, if you will. Or more precisely, a koan.

As you may or may not know, a koan is a Zen saying, story or question that acts as a sort of mental eraser. According to David Schiller's The Little Zen Companion, it is an imponderable pondering meant to "help bring the student to a direct realization of ultimate reality." In his book, Schiller quotes the great Japanese Master Hakuin as writing "If you take up one koan and investigate it unceasingly, your mind will die and your will will be destroyed...You face death and your bosom feels as though it were on fire. Then suddenly you are one with the koan, and body and mind are cast off...This is known as seeing into one's nature."

Some examples of koans are the classic "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" or more recently "There ain't no way to find out why a snorer can't hear himself snore" (Mark Twain). Then there's the Zen Catholic koan, "What size shoe does the Holy Trinity wear?"

Although right now, I'm being destroyed in pondering whether Hakuin actually said "will will" or whether that was just a sloppy translation on Schiller's part.

At any rate, I'd like to now offer my own homespun koan for your impondering, uncluttering, and if all goes well, a little toe-dip into the abyss. And it is this:

2,500 square feet of living space. Cat throws up on radiator.

And here I was thinking a chicken had died somewhere in the house. Or that someone in my family had a bad case of toe dip.


Jeannine said...

My great Aunt Lilly used to make a thing she called "White Mikes" with pasta and butter and the green parts of spring onions. Great if you are sick. I have no idea where the name came from, probably child-coined as it isn't Portuguese or any bastardization of Portuguese I can thing of.

And is that really what koans are for? Be damned, I thought they were sort of an eight dimensional joke.

Not only do I like your blog and plan to nag you for the next three weeks into continuing it (did you know it takes 21 days to make a habit?), I even stole from it already. So there. said...


In my book, any recipe can't go wrong with butter and onions. And garlic. Hmmm...spring onions...I might just try that.

And yeah, Mr. Schiller states that koans are not just riddles or paradoxes. But I'm thinking that Mr. Schiller probably doesn't get invited to a lot of Zen square dances or pot lucks.

21 days! Okay...I'll try. And already there's been a copyright infringement! Well! Now I *know* I've arrived! ;-)

'tis Herself

anne said...

koan schmoan...

The sound of one hand claping? woosh,woosh,woosh..
The snoring thing? Selective hearing, I'm sure. There is no way my husbasnd cannot hear himslef snore and yet can hear me hiding on the other side of the refrigerator opening the ice cream container with the last scoop of vanilla bean therein.
And the cat puke on the radiator... Cats are evil and know exactly what they are doing. You will never convince me otherwise. said...



But okay, Little Miss Scully...what about the shoe size?

BTW...If you meet the buddha, kill the buddha. - Lin-Chi

Jor Jazzar said...

Not so much a koan, I guess, but an imponderable nonetheless....Before there were such things as containers and lids, what did people call eyelids? Or kneecaps for that matter. Maybe they just called them eyeskins and kneebones. That's what I would have done, anyway.

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