Zen Koans Explained: Inch Time Foot Gem

For the layman, "Zen" is little more than three artfully arranged letters. For the master, though, it is so much more. Zen koans, the puzzling riddles of the soul— who do they even think they are? Gawker, an online website, is here to shine light on the path to en-light-enment.

The koan: "Inch Time Foot Gem"

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen Teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

"Not twice this day

Inch time foot gem.

This day will not come again.

Each minute is worth a priceless gem."

The enlightenment: The Zen teacher was suggesting that Takuan play Bejeweled Blitz to pass the time. This proved to be impossible.

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." This day will not come again.

[Image via Shutterstock]