Thank you all for this group. I am currently studying a book called "Zen Flesh
Zen Bones". Does anyone else have this text or is currently reading it? I would
like very much to study and discuss the Koans in this book and/ or post Koans
here to be discussed with all.
I am currently working on a Koan with a friend whose interpetation/
understanding was so vastly different from my own that I would be very
interested in the interpetation of others in this group.
Mokusen Hiki was living in a temple in the province of Tamba. One of his
adherents complained of the stinginess of his wife.
Mokusen visited the adherent's wife and showed her a clenched fist before her
"What do you mean by that? asked the surprised woman.
"Suppose my fist were always life that. What would you call it?"
"Deformed," replied the woman.
Then he opened his hand flat in her face and asked: " Suppose it were always
like that. What then?"
Another kind of deformity," said the wife.
"If you understand that much," finished Mokusen, "you are a good wife." Then he
After his visit, this wife helped her husband to distribute as well as to save.
My dear friend found the Koan to make them "uneasy".
My thoughts on the Koan were:
saw something completely different in my reading of the Koan. I didn't assume
any implication of gender roles. (How would the teaching read if it were the
wife complainng of the husband? Or if it were a mother to a child? a Father to
a child? - what if it was a bear to it's cubs).
I interpreted the closed fist as giving nothing at all. The open hand as giving
everything. Neither the closed or open hand existing in harmony. But what is
the middle... to distribute and share with all...and to save being not to give
so much as to have nothing left? I didn't see any violence in the action but an
oppurtunity to see ones own actions, the actions of another, and the affect on
the self and others created by the actions taken and expressed. I also say the
giving nothing, the giving all, and a more harmonious way of doing bath as a
representation as these ideas as a applied to all things.
Please share you thoughts on this Koan.
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