Wednesday, 10 August 2016


51. Some of the old Zen masters are remembered and revered for a teaching that, at first glance, does not appear to amount to very much. Take the case of Ch'an master Huo-an, known in the Zen tradition as Wakuan. He died in 1179 aged in his early seventies. His contribution to Zen lore would seem to be limited to a question and a brief death poem. Wakuan's question: 'Why has the Western Barbarian no beard?' On the basis of this question alone the Zen tradition holds him in high esteem as a great teacher. Clearly, the formulation of a question can sometimes be more enlightening than the provision of an answer.

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