Broken Koans
October 14, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Broken koans to amuse and enlighten.
posted by RussHy (62 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
Wow.
posted by MrVisible at 8:35 AM on October 14, 2008


A watched pot will probably begin to boil in the same amount of time that it would take to boil if it had not been watched.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:38 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you build a man a fire he'll be warm for a day. If you set a man on fire he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
posted by phirleh at 8:41 AM on October 14, 2008 [23 favorites]


A bird in the hand may give you Salmonella. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly for two full minutes with plenty of soap and hot water.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:47 AM on October 14, 2008


If you really want to watch a pot boil, try using a glass lid. The lid will still retain the heat, and you can see the bubbles appear more quickly than if you let all that heat escape and set off the smoke alarm.

And maybe you should open a window next time you cook. The kitchen really isn't that big.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:00 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


And why would you want a bird in your hand, anyway? If it fits in your hand, chances are there's not a lot of nutritional value in it. Try with a fish in the hand.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:03 AM on October 14, 2008


Everyone needs a hug. But not everyone wants a hug, or is able to receive a hug. Some people live in places far from your hugs, and some people are very fat or do not have arms, so hugging them would be awkward. It's pretty much meant to be metaphorical, anyway. Don't be bastards, basically.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:13 AM on October 14, 2008


I thought I was poor because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

So, I took his shoes.

the probability of someone quoting Jack Handy is approaching one, and I really don't know if I just did or not
posted by yhbc at 9:14 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


A zen student said to Joshu, "I wish to attain enlightenment."

Smiling, Joshu struck the student on the head with his staff.

"Ow," said the student, "that really hurt! Ow! Jesus! Why would you do that? Are you drunk? Fuck, look, I'm bleeding."
posted by cortex at 9:30 AM on October 14, 2008 [23 favorites]


One day Will Rogers was talking to a Zen student at the boundary between the monastery and the Wild West. Each was leaning against the fence from his own side, and they were talking about things.

After awhile the Zen student, impressed with the humor and deep humanity he sensed in Will Rogers, said "I think you're not far from Buddahood".

And Will Rogers replied, "Yep, just the fence here between us."
posted by RussHy at 9:30 AM on October 14, 2008


Think before you have a thought.
posted by quintessencesluglord at 9:33 AM on October 14, 2008


You can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it fish.
posted by wittgenstein at 9:34 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just before Ninakawa passed away the Zen master Ikkyu visited him and asked, "Shall I lead you on?"
Ninakawa said, "I came here alone and I go alone. What help could you be to me?"
Ikkyu answered, "If you think you really come and go, that is your delusion. Let me show you the path on which there is no coming and no going."
Whereupon he picked up the remote from the bed and turned on the Jerry Springer Show.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:37 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Two Zen monks were travelling. They came to a ford of a stream that was running high, and the current was strong and frightening looking.

An attractive young lady was standing at the ford, looking nervous. She clearly was afraid to cross, but had an important reason to go.

Without a word, the older of the two monks lifted her in his arms and waded across the stream, and placed her safely on the far bank.

The younger monk looked shocked at this action, but kept his silence for quite some number of miles as they continued their journey.

Finally, he blurted out “You know that it is against the rules of our order to have any contact with women. How could you do that?”.

The older monk replied “Yeah, but did you see her ass?”
posted by The Light Fantastic at 9:53 AM on October 14, 2008 [13 favorites]


You can have all the monkeys in the world, but you still have to make your own sandwiches.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 9:55 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


You can lead a rabbi to water but you can not make him cantor

to find a needle in a haystack burn the haystack and run a strong magnet over the ashes

Moo spelled backwards is Oom

Why am I doing this when I could find enlightenment playing with myself?
posted by Postroad at 10:03 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick up a sixteen year-old without registering as a sex offender.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2008


Metafilter: we actively discourage exactly this kind of analytical discourse
posted by Smedleyman at 10:15 AM on October 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


A watched pot will boil no more quickly* or slowly than one that is unwatched, but the act of attending the process will phenomenologically expand the amount of subjective time that appears to pass within the observer's mind. But really, the point is just to let things happen like they're supposed to happen.

*unless you can do that firestarter thing with your mind. In which case, dude, that's awesome.
posted by Eideteker at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


From the same site: Broken Jokes

Q: How is a chicken different from an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement?
A: One is a domestic fowl; the other is a treaty.

posted by not_on_display at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2008


Metafilter: we actively discourage exactly this kind of anal
posted by Eideteker at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2008


whoops, hit "post" too soon.
posted by Eideteker at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


not-on-display, that reminds me of my Nottoes.

"Quality is one of our jobs."

"Anything less would be insufficient."
posted by Eideteker at 10:31 AM on October 14, 2008


Use of the shoulder-whacking stick was very rare where I used to sit. During one winter sesshin, they decided to use it--a lot of students like it, for one reason or another. I hated it, because the quiet would be irregularly punctuated by the loud sound of a flat stick hitting meat: THWAP. Sudden noises make me all adrenaline-y, and so I would spend the whole zazen period amped and paranoid.

In the middle of a zazen period, in a fit of lizard-brain flight, I walked out. The abbot followed me outside, and wanted to know what my deal was. I told him, and he suggested that maybe my practice was to sit with the adrenaline-y paranoia.

I allowed that this was most likely "my practice", but that there was no way I was going back into the Zendo of Loud Sudden Meat Whacking. He let it go.
posted by everichon at 10:33 AM on October 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


Eideteker: "not-on-display, that reminds me of my Nottoes."

You're sitting on a goldmine. How's your back?
posted by not_on_display at 10:41 AM on October 14, 2008


You can lead a piano to water but you can't tuna fish...
posted by jim in austin at 10:51 AM on October 14, 2008


In the middle of a zazen period, in a fit of lizard-brain flight...

Does a lizard have Buddha nature?
posted by RussHy at 11:08 AM on October 14, 2008


Metafilter: we act exactly kind of anal
posted by Smedleyman at 11:20 AM on October 14, 2008


A monk asked Ts'u-wei “For what reason did Boddhidharma come from the West?”
Master Ts'u-wei answered “Pass me that arm rest.” As soon as it was passed the master hit the monk with it. The monk then beat the shit out of the master using many curse words.

(Y’know, when you know the history - like there’s an old Chinese proverb that ‘It takes two hands to clap’ some of the koans sort of fall into place.)
posted by Smedleyman at 11:25 AM on October 14, 2008


Bait a bear, and then some.

A healthy child doesn't need a midwife, a sick child doesn't deserve one.

This one is true:
Is there anything more selfish than an allergic enterpreneur?
No.
posted by Free word order! at 11:30 AM on October 14, 2008


From the same site: Broken Jokes

Nope, David Chess and Steve White are two distinct people, each with their own domain, although they do know each other IRL and link to each other frequently.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:46 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just have to say that the discourse here on MeFi is 10x better thank the original link.
posted by daHIFI at 11:52 AM on October 14, 2008


On his morning walk, the monk came upon an Indian man, sitting in contemplation by the brook.

"Are you relaxing?" asked the monk.

"No, I am Partab Singh."
posted by Meatbomb at 12:12 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.
posted by joelf at 12:14 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Joe Sixpack was going down from Wasilla to Phoenix, when he fell into the hands of tweakers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him, smeared shit all over him, put the video up on YouTube, and went away, leaving him half dead. A local minister happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw a dark-seeming man passed out in a ditch, he pretended to be in a trance and passed by on the other side, speaking in tongues. So too, a small-town politician and an oil lobbyist, when they came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side, for it was already very difficult to walk whilst all the way kissing each other on the behind, giving each other a reach around, and still holding firmly onto their wallets. But a drag queen, as she traveled, came where the man was; and when she saw him, she took pity on him, for she knew what it was like to be stripped, beaten, shit on, and mocked on YouTube. She went to him and cleaned him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then she put the man in her 1989 Geo Metro, took him to an inn and took care of him. Then Joe Sixpack woke up in a strange hotel room to find a drag queen washing his naked body. So he beat the drag queen to death and snuck out the back.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:28 PM on October 14, 2008 [12 favorites]


These made my day. Thanks for the awesome.
posted by desjardins at 12:48 PM on October 14, 2008


filtermeat: we eat a kind of anal

no.
posted by artof.mulata at 12:49 PM on October 14, 2008


Why is there no Halloween in India?

They took away the Gandhi.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:00 PM on October 14, 2008


I had one grunch but the eggplant over there.
posted by JHarris at 2:17 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joshu came across two boys throwing stones at geese.

"What is the wisdom of throwing stones at geese?" he asked.

"It's fun," said the boys.

"No, but my point is..." said Joshu.

"Shut up old man," said the boys.
posted by salishsea at 2:24 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mind, body, feelings, and phenomena are empty.
Yet undeniably Angelina Jolie is hot.
When you can comprehend the emptiness
of mind, body, and feeling,
and the hotness of Angeline Jolie,
Then the ten thousand things will pass through the gate.


Through Angelina Jolie's gate?
posted by namespan at 2:27 PM on October 14, 2008


Three men are journeying through the desert; the first one is carrying a large metal thermos, the second a brown paper bag, and the third the passenger-side door from a 1982 Toyota Corrola.

They encounter a desert nomad. "Excuse me," says the nomad, "but could I ask you something?" The men shrug and nod, having no problem with this.

So, the nomad turns to the first man and asks, "Why are you carrying that thermos?" The man replies, "Well, it's full of water. That way, if I get too thirsty, I'll have something to drink."

"That sounds reasonable," says the nomad, and then turns to the second man, asking "Why are you carrying that paper bag?" "I've got some sandwiches in here," the man responds. "If I get too hungry, I'll have something to eat."

"Okay, sure," says the nomad. He then turns to the third man and asks, "So why are you carrying the passenger-side door from a 1982 Toyota Corrola?"

The man looks embarrassed, and replies, "I'm not really sure, frankly. I probably should have brought food or water, instead. I guess it just seemed like a good idea at the time."
posted by rifflesby at 2:27 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


marble and I hung out with David a couple years back. He's a pretty awesome fellow all around.
posted by dmd at 3:06 PM on October 14, 2008


“Through Angelina Jolie's gate?”

She makes a serviceable Ishtar.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:38 PM on October 14, 2008


Measure first, cut twice. Or three times, since you probably measure it wrong and now you're going to have to go back to the hardware store for a new piece of wood anyway, dumbass.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:53 PM on October 14, 2008


Joshu once came across two women playing tennis. "Joshu, would you settle a disagreement?", one asked as he approached. "I thought that the last ball was in, but she thought that it was out." Joshu looked puzzled. He did not speak English, and though the three tried to bridge the language gap, they were unable to do so.
posted by Kwine at 4:07 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sozan, a Chinese Zen master, was asked by a student: "Who is the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks?"

The master replied: "Shaft."

The student said: "They say that this cat Shaft is a bad mother-"

Sozan replied: "Shut your mouth."

“I am just speaking of Shaft,” the student said.

Sozan replied: “He's a complicated man. No one understands him but his woman.”

The student contemplated this.

Then with a lion’s roar Sozan suddenly shouted: “JOHN SHAFT!”

And the student could dig it.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:25 PM on October 14, 2008 [16 favorites]


Joshu walks into a bar.

"What'll you have?" asks the bartender.

Joshu considers the question. He quickly realizes that alcohol will cloud only his mind, and that the smoky room is inappropriate for zazen practice. Seeing no reason to remain, he smiles politely, turns, and leaves.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:39 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought I was poor because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

So, I took his shoes.

the probability of someone quoting Jack Handy is approaching one, and I really don't know if I just did or not
posted by yhbc at 11:14 AM on October 14 [2 favorites +] [!]


My fave: If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason.
posted by ZakDaddy at 5:19 PM on October 14, 2008


Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit files like bananas.

Don't say I learned nothing.
posted by pointilist at 6:59 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Zen student Kiyoshi was walking down the sidewalk when he witnessed a man kidnap a little boy right in front of him. He strove to intervene, but was beaten unconscious. When he woke his face bore a look of disappointment.

Years later the exact same thing happened, a small child walking right in front of him was kidnapped by the same man as before. This time, practicing detachment, he did not intervene, but his face bore a look of disappointment.

Finally, a decade later, it happened again with the same man, and this time, with no expression on his face he asked the man "Dude, why are you always cock-blocking me?"

I'm not really a horrible person.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:03 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I prefer the sublime Lessons from the Temple
Some professors asked a monk to lecture to them on spiritual matters. The monk ascended a podium, struck it once with his stick, and descended. The academics were dumb-founded. The monk asked them, "Do you understand what I have told you?"

One professor said, "I do not understand."
The monk said, "Then I have concluded my lecture."

Another professor said, "We will not pay you for this lecture."
posted by shii at 11:22 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Okay, what I meant to do was link to this page, but I was foiled by an Asian keyboard.
posted by shii at 11:23 PM on October 14, 2008


A guy joins a monastery and takes a vow of silence. he's allowed to say two words every 7 years.

After the first 7 years, the elders bring him in and ask him for his 2 words. "cold floors," he says. They nod and send him away.

Seven more years pass and they bring him in for his 2 words. he clears his throat and say, "Bad food." They nod and send him away.

Seven more years pass and they bring him in for his 2 words. "I quit," he says. "That's not surprising," the elders say. "you've done nothing but complain since you got here."
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:39 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


From _The Gateless Gate is Stuck, Again_

   Nansen saw the monks of the eastern and western halls fighting over a cat. He seized the cat and told the monks: 'If any of you say a good word, you can save the cat.'

   No one had a good word to say about the cat, which had stolen their pizza. So Nansen boldly cut the cat in two pieces.

   That evening Joshu returned and Nansen told him about this. Joshu removed his sandals and, placing them on his head, walked out.

   Nansen said: 'So sue me, I'm a dog person'

Sparx's Comment: Why did Joshu put his sandals on his head? Was he drunk, or just trying to be all clever and surrealist? If anyone answers this question, he will understand exactly why even the wise are unsure if a dog has buddha nature. If not, he will watch his own slice of pizza vanish, only to return after half a cat has finished playing with it in the monestary garden.

   Had Joshu been there,
   He would have enforced the edict oppositely.
   Nansen is cleaved, Schroedinger proved
   Observation changes the fate of cats.
posted by Sparx at 3:53 AM on October 15, 2008


A rabbi, a minister, and a zen monk walk into a bar. The bartender says "is this some kind of joke?"
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:01 AM on October 15, 2008


A monk asked Joshu: "Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?" Joshu answered: "Moo."

The joke behind this one is that it is, word for word, an actual koan.
posted by availablelight at 6:18 AM on October 15, 2008


Wish in one hand
Shit in the other.
.
.
.
.
.
Then clap.
posted by Goofyy at 6:39 AM on October 15, 2008


To quote Louis C.K:

"A bird in the hand is like a man in the sand."
posted by scarello at 8:12 AM on October 15, 2008


Three Days More

During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to Suiwo from a southern island of Japan.

Suiwo gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."

The pupil remained three years but could not pass this test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he said, "for I cannot solve my problem."

"Wait one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.

"Still another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo said: "Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."

On the third day the pupil killed himself.
posted by Outlawyr at 11:38 AM on October 15, 2008


Well, mates, that was a good thread.

...throws glass into the fireplace...
posted by salishsea at 5:54 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


At first, there was no way.

Zen there was.
posted by kcds at 7:38 PM on October 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


« Older I Can Has Mind Control?   |   Rocketboom Founder Fighting for Father's Life Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments