Zen koans

Huineng’s flag

Two monks were watching a flag flapping in the wind. One said to the other, “The flag is moving.” The other replied, “The wind is moving.” Huineng overheard this. He said, “Not the flag, not the wind; mind is moving.”

Read a version of this in Gödel, Escher, Bach.

Source: link

Two monks and a woman

The tale of two monks and a woman is a well-known Buddhist parable. The story goes that two monks were traveling together, a senior and a junior. They came to a river with a strong current where a young woman was waiting, unable to cross alone. She asks the monks if they would help her across the river. Without a word and in spite of the sacred vow he’d taken not to touch women, the older monk picks her up, crosses, and sets her down on the other side.

The younger monk joins them across the river and is aghast that the older monk has broken his vow but doesn’t say anything. An hour passes as they travel on. Then two hours. Then three. Finally, the now quite agitated younger monk can stand it no longer: “Why did you carry that women when we took a vow as monks not to touch women?”

The older monk replies, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”

Source: link

Banzan in the butcher’s shop

Do you know the story of Banzan? Before he became a great Zen master, he spent many years in pursuit of enlightenment, but it eluded him. Then, one day, as he was walking in the marketplace, he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer. ‘Give me the best piece of meat you have,’ said the customer. And the butcher replied, ‘Every piece of meat I have is the best. There is no piece of meat here that is not the best.’ Upon hearing this, Banzan became enlightened.

Source: http://solitary-walker.blogspot.com/2011/12/banzan-in-butchers-shop.html