Monday, 15 August 2016


52. The Southern Sung Dynasty master Wakuan asked a question that so puzzled his disciples that it soon achieved the status of a koan. That is to say, it was felt that even to understand their master's question, let alone respond to it appropriately, they would need to share in his own Enlightenment Realisation. The question: 'Why has the Western Barbarian no beard?' Now given that the most junior novice in their monastery knew that 'the Western Barbarian' referred to Bodhidharma, the Indian monk who was always depicted with a great bushy beard, the question as to why he lacked a beard must have struck the disciples as most perplexing. What could their master be playing at?

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