Zen Koans Explained: "How to Write a Chinese Poem"

If you can run, you can walk. If you can walk, you can crawl. If you can crawl, you can lay down and die. Yet you are alive. Can you explain the mystery of life? Not even Stephen Hawking can. Can you? We ask again.

The koan: "How to Write a Chinese Poem"

A well-known Japanese poet was asked how to compose a Chinese poem.

"The usual Chinese poem is four lines," he explained. "The first line contains the initial phrase; the second line, the continuation of that phrase; the third line turns from this subject and begins a new one; and the fourth line brings the first three lines together. A popular Japanese song illustrates this:

"Two daughters of a silk merchant live in Kyoto.

The elder is twenty, the younger, eighteen.

A soldier may kill with his sword,

But these girls slay men with their eyes."

The enlightenment: "Umm, cool song..." said the listener. The Japanese poet stood silently for a moment, and then broke out laughing. "Son I tried to keep a straight face but I couldn't even do it. I know that shit is wack."

"Son, that shit doesn't even rhyme."

"I purposely made that shit wack to make China look bad," said the Japanese poet. He was wearing some fresh Comme des Garcons shit. "They don't even have this shit in China."

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." The sky, the sky.

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