Some Enlightened Zen Nonsense …

I find everything about Zen – hilarious and enlightening. I think a community of Zen Monks abiding in their infinite nature is my idea of a rollicking good time tip toe-ing between the form and the formless … here’s some Zen delights!


“One day Chao-chou fell down in the snow, and called out, ”Help me up! Help me up!”

A monk came and lay down beside him. Chao-chou got up and went away.”


The renown Japanese Zen master Bankei Yotaku (1622-93) drew huge multitudes to hear his pithy teaching, Fu-sho! “Unborn!” Meaning, “Don’t get ‘born’— abide as your Unborn Infinite Buddha-Nature.”

A woman suffering under patriarchal East Asian norms once complained to Master Bankei that her gender was a karmic obstacle. He retorted: “From what time did you become a woman?”

Bankei never wanted anyone to become fascinated by anything other than our Infinite Nature. And so, when a monk stepped forth in a vast assembly and proudly told Bankei, “I diligently chant the Light Mantra night and day and my body emits rays of light,” Bankei replied: “Those rays of light of yours are nothing but the flames of the evil passions consuming your body.”

In a two-line section of his famous poem, Honshin No Uta, Bankei says: “It’s the buddhas I feel sorry for: with all those ornaments they wear / They must be dazzled by the glare!”


A monk wondered why Bankei used none of the methods of fabled Chan/Zen masters of yore, such as the stick, the shout, the slap. Bankei replied, “I know how to use the three inches” — i.e., his tongue, to tell people they are really Unborn!

Bankei criticized fellow Japanese Zen teachers who hid their own failure to realize Unborn Buddha-nature with, instead, a mish-mash of confusing old Chinese-language koan-anecdotes, the “dregs and slobber of the Chan Patriarchs” as he called the ancient lore! And he chided the overly clever who are deluded by their own cleverness.


“I tell my students, ‘Be stupid’!… What I’m talking about isn’t the stupidity of (mindless) stupidity or (clever) understanding. That which transcends stupidity and understanding is what I mean by stupidity.”

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