Koans come from Zen Buddhism, but everyone is free to compose their own. These short poems are not addressed to the mind. Their role is to disrupt the mechanics of thought. To empty the head. To propel the reader into the unsustainable brilliance of the diamond lightning. Let the uninhibited one thus open. The awakening stands just behind.
So I find it hard to understand why so many authors try to slip their instructions after each koan quoted. Any comment can only cancel the benefit of the koan. The opposite would be better. Quote a koan without glorifying. And bang! Take this in the teeth, tell me if you see the diamond.
Zen or not, here are the raw koans, without salad, without bullshit, without mind, without thought. They are halfway between Zen and Sufism, like the Mullah Nasruddin. Feast on them, they are to be read again without moderation.
Out of nowhere, the mind comes up.
Everything is clear, you go astray. Come at night, you wake up.
Nice feeling that comes from less.
When two hands clap, a sound is emitted. Listen to the sound with one hand.
I walk on the path which is no longer the path but the walk. (Issa Joe Ouakam )
What is Buddha? Three pounds of linen.
What is what?
Dig the bottom of the bottomless pit.
Knock, you will be opened. The door remains closed? Knock your head.
Minerva’s owl takes its flight at dusk.
So far so good. So gar so food.
The disciple says: I have seen the white light! I am awake! The master says: Loosen your meditation belt.
Water falls. Water flows. Water rises. Water comes to my mouth.
What’s the difference between a dog?
Death is deaf. If you want to call it, scream.
In the sun we rot faster.
Do you know the giant dwarf of the treeless forest?
Everything is in everything and vice versa.
What is a bird? The mountain doesn’t care.
Camels in the desert have such tight skin when they close their eyelids it opens their asshole.
Come on. I’m not far away. Just on the other side of life.
It would be necessary, says the disciple. Why not? answers the master.
Be passer by. (Christ Jesus)
At the flame of the candle the worry goes away the spirit awakens.
The child said: I will not wash my hands! The father replied: Okay. Wash just one hand.
Silence of death: dripping fish.
Put on your glasses and listen like it stinks.
What is a cat that follows its owner? A dog.
Live your life, die your death.
A little bit is already something. But something is not nothing.
You can’t eat beauty in a salad.
If money doesn’t make you happy, give it back. (Jules Renard)
What shall we do with a drunken sailor? A song.
Swimming in the flames, hovering on the ground, dying alive.
Could you imagine a mountain with no valley?
Who can love hate? Who can read a white paper? Who can make water powder?
See the sea, show the show, tent the tent and cap the cap.
A quarter of an hour before his death, he was still alive.
If you see Buddha on your way, kill him.
A final word
No one needs a master other than the one he carries in himself. Let the light come into your heart, let the fire consume you with joy, let the night open your eyes, let the day amaze you, let death open the door for you, let life open your arms, let the way be your way, let the feast begin, let the forgetfulness fade away, let it shine, let it be.