Zen Koans Explained: "Three Days More"

"Zen" is more than just a random jumble of four [three? check this-ed.] letters. It is a way of seeing the world, like a "Google Glass" made of cloudy opals mined on a frozen sun. What do zen koans mean? Let's explore, together.

The koan: "Three Days More"

Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.

Suiwo gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."

The pupil remained three years but could not pass this test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he said, "for I cannot solve my problem."

"Wait one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.

"Still another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result. Then he said: "Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."

On the second day the pupil was enlightened.

The enlightenment: Suiwo was not actually a good teacher.

This has been Zen Koans Explained.

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