Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors.
October 25, 2002 8:36 PM   Subscribe

Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors. "Pick out the stories that sound interesting. Read this hypertext book from 'cover' to 'cover,' or at random, or use the links at the bottom of each story to connect to other stories with similar themes. There's no right or wrong way to do this."
posted by Joey Michaels (13 comments total)
Excellent site. I'll be reading these all night. Perfect material to meditate on, especially if you begin to consider the responses of other readers that do not match your own. Great link.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:49 PM on October 25, 2002

wow.. I've occasionally come back to that site for like.. literally 6 or 7 years now... cool to see it popping up elsewhere.. I like it a lot!
posted by twiggy at 9:44 PM on October 25, 2002

Yeah, this is a real grandaddy in internet years. I remember reading this site in my freshman year of high school and being inspired to have that brief, perfunctory flirtation with what we call asian literature (the dao de jing, art of war, book of five rings) that everyone has to have before they can really be pretentious. Ahh, memories.

This is a good site though. I even loved it enough to do a parody of it, though I refuse to self-link.
posted by Hildago at 10:38 PM on October 25, 2002

The unwritten rule against self-linking in comments has its place, I think, but other times it seems excessive and disingenuous. Why not link to your parody here? It obviously contains some personal insight or feeling of yours about this site, which is after all what you're supposed to put in these comments...

(I'm new here.)

On that note, the one with dismemberment just seems really weird...
posted by tss at 11:20 PM on October 25, 2002

"The unwritten rule against self-linking in comments has its place, I think"

Since when is there an unwritten rule about self-linking in comments? In the years that I've been with this site, I've only ever seen mention of a rule against self-linking in *posts*, until someone assumed it was forbidden in comments as well, and the assumption took off. In fact, I seem to remember self-linking being explicitly *allowed* in comments.
posted by CrayDrygu at 12:19 AM on October 26, 2002

ehh, these are barely thought provoking.


"ooooh egotism means saying other people are stupid!!1"


what really provoke thought are some of the suggested responses, however.

posted by luckyclone at 1:12 AM on October 26, 2002

I'm pretty sure there's no rule, written or otherwise, condemning self-linking in comments (as long as it's relevant).
posted by languagehat at 8:55 AM on October 26, 2002

Great stuff. Most of the responses posted there seem to totally miss the point of the stories, but that's to be expected. It's a brilliant demonstration of how easy it is to misunderstand Zen.
posted by sfenders at 9:04 AM on October 26, 2002

From my understanding, self-linking is acceptable in comments, though there seems to be an etiquette thing where people are explicit that they're linking themselves.
posted by SoftRain at 10:27 AM on October 26, 2002

for god's sake, stop worrying about what's acceptable and just link or not link.
posted by oog at 1:08 PM on October 26, 2002

I was actually disappointed by most of these--I was expecting something more along the line of traditional Zen koans: short stories or sayings designed to "break the back of reason" and, in doing so, help the student contemplating them to achieve a more perfect meditative state. Koans are almost comically absurd. The story about the finger, which tss mentions above, is an example of a koan, as is this:

Wakuan complained when he saw a picture of bearded Bodhidharma, "Why hasn't that fellow a beard?"

Weird stuff, generally speaking, and in a lot of ways very closely allied to Western postmodernist thinking. The stories on this site, on the other hand, are generally straightforward little "spiritual" lessons. They're obvious (not that there's anything wrong with that) and occasionally a little trite. If you enjoy them, fine, but I don't think they bear much relation to Zen (other than, you know, mentioning "Zen masters" and whatnot). Then again, I'm no Wakuan, so take it with a grain of salt if you will.

As a side note, old-school hackers are really into koans.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:15 PM on October 26, 2002

for god's sake, stop worrying about what's acceptable

This is the price we pay for being involved in a self-policing community. Some of us are going to work ourselves into a lather over the small stuff, some of us are going to smash the rules to unrecognizable smithereens and some of us are going to wail and moan in the corner.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:32 AM on October 27, 2002

If you like the stories on that link, I might would also suggest Zen Master Raven a quite excellent book of Zen philosophy-as-stories (quite short stories, generally.)
posted by tankboy at 9:02 AM on October 27, 2002

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