Zen Koans Explained: "My Heart Burns Like Fire"

The average man's ignorance could fill a bowl the size of the whole world. "Well, how would you make a bowl that big?" wonders the average man. Exactly.

The koan: "My Heart Burns Like Fire"

Soyen Shaku, the first Zen teacher to come to America, said: "My heart burns like fire but my eyes are as cold as dead ashes." He made the following rules which he practiced every day of his life.

In the morning before dressing, light incense and meditate.

Retire at a regular hour. Partake of food at regular intervals. Eat with moderation and never to the point of satisfaction.

Receive a guest with the same attitude you have when alone. When alone, maintain the same attitude you have in receiving guests.

Watch what you say, and whatever you say, practice it.

When an opportunity comes do not let it pass by, yet always think twice before acting.

Do not regret the past. Look to the future.

Have the fearless attitude of a hero and the loving heart of a child.

Upon retiring, sleep as if you had entered your last sleep. Upon awakening, leave your bed behind you instantly as if you had cast away a pair of old shoes.

The enlightenment: The people of America embraced all of Soyen Shaku's teachings, except the food one, and the sleeping one. The incense one remains a niche practice. It never caught on in the mainstream. The warning against hypocrisy is not one that Americans can truly be said to embody. The balance between timidity and rashness advocated in these teachings is not one that we have figured out yet. It could be said that we have given up on that one. America continues to be wracked with regret. We have succeeded in loving heroes, and loving children, but not both at the same time.

America will never forget Soy Shake Shack.

This has been "Zen koans explained." Crumbs in the fur, brushless.

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