Examples of koan:
- What sound does one hand make when clapping?
If all things must return to the One, where must that One return?
-Only when you look for it do you lose it. It cannot be retained, nor can one get rid of it.
-If you understand, things are as they are. If you don’t understand, things are as they are.
-Bashô said to the assembled monks: ‘If you have a staff, I will give you one. If you don’t have a cane, I’ll take it from you. ‘
- A Zen master named Gettan lived at the end of the Tokugawa era. He used to say, “There are three types of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who care for temples and altars, and lastly there are sacks of rice and walking perches.”Gasan expressed the same idea. When he was studying Tekisui, his teacher was very severe. Sometimes he even hit her. Other students did not tolerate such methods and gave up.
Gasan stayed, thinking: a bad disciple uses the influence of the teacher. A righteous disciple admires the kindness of the teacher. A good disciple grows strong under the discipline of the teacher.
- A Zen student went to see Bankei: ‘Master, I have an uncontrollable temper. How could I be cured?“You have something very strange,” Bankei replied, “let me see it.”
“Right now I can’t show you,” replied the student.
“When can you show it to me?” Asked Bankei.
“It comes out suddenly,” replied the student.
‘Then,’ Bankei concluded, ‘it must not be your true nature. If it was, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you didn’t have it, and your parents didn’t give it to you. Think about it.”