Monday, August 08, 2005

beating a dead cat

Courtesy of this site:

Nansen Kills the Cat
(The Gateless Gate, Case 14; translated by Koun Yamada. Center Publications 1979)

The Case

Once the monks of the eastern and western Zen halls were quarrelling about a cat. Nansen held up the cat and said, "You monks! If one of you can say a word, I will spare the cat. If you can't say anything, I will put it to the sword." No one could answer, so Nansen finally slew it. In the evening, when Joshu returned, Nansen told him what had happened. Joshu, thereupon, took off his sandals, put them on his head and walked off. Nansen said, "If you had been there, I could have spared the cat."

Mumon's Commentary

What is the meaning of Joshu's putting his sandals on his head? If you can give a turning word concerning this matter, you will be able to see that Nansen's command was not meaningless. But if you can't, look out! Danger!

I think the caption should be changed to read, "Your cat is now enlightened, Ma'am."

"Splitting the cat" is a Zen euphemism for eating pussy. What Joshu was trying to say, when he put the sandals on his head, was that monks don't eat pussy, because pussy-eating is prohibited by the Ten Commandments.

Now go and live out these ideals. I have spoken.



Lorianne said...

Now *that's* an answer to this kong'an I've never heard before, so you get points for creativity. :-)

Unfortunately, points for creativity aren't redeemable in a Zen interview room, so you'd be sent back to meditate on your kong'an some more. "Maybe next time; try again!"

Kevin Kim said...

You need to stop lashing out at the people who love you, Lorianne.

And what are you smoking? I don't see any Zen interview room here! Can't a man wave his prick on his own blog in PEACE without being reminded of dokusan? Angels and ministers of grace defend us!*

Shit, I was right: my precious blog is becoming a haven for the crazies.


*The "Star Trek IV" reference, not the Hamlet reference.

PS: And for my next trick, I shall ban myself from my own comment threads!


Lorianne said...

You, my dear, were the one who brought up Namcheong (Nansen). Before you evoked his ghost, he (like the cat) was lying peacefully in his grave.

So, now whatcha gonna do??? ;-)

Kevin Kim said...

Dr. D--

re: digging the old guy out of his grave

True, but I obviously wasn't seriously responding to the kong-an.

re: whatcha gonna do???

What I always do. Find an elevator and take a discreet dump in the corner.

Personal question: how have you dealt with that kong-an? Just curious.

Also, a Kwanum Zen question: in your order, do students study many kong-an, Japanese-style, or do they wrestle with a single kong-an for years, as in more traditional Korean Zen (see Buswell's The Zen Monastic Experience for more on this... imagine spending fifteen years on the Mu Kong-an)?


Kevin Kim said...

Wee tweak:

I think it's Namcheon.