Zen Koans Explained: "Fire-Poker Zen"

Often is it said, "It's what's on the inside that counts." When I hear those words, I laugh and laugh, and laugh and laugh. What is this, amateur hour?

The koan: "Fire-Poker Zen "

Hakuin used to tell his pupils about an old woman who had a teashop, praising her understanding of Zen. The pupils refused to believe what he told them and would go to the teashop to find out for themselves.

Whenever the woman saw them coming she could tell at once whether they had come for tea or to look into her grasp of Zen. In the former case, she would serve them graciously. In the latter, she would beckon to the pupils to come behind her screen. The instant they obeyed, she would strike them with a fire-poker.

Nine out of ten of them could not escape her beating.

The enlightenment: Crazy ass.

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." Go tell Eric.

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