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The koan: "Three Kinds of Disciples"

A Zen master named Gettan lived in the latter part of the Tokugawa era. He used to say: "There are three kinds of disciples: those who impart Zen to others, those who maintain the temples and shrines, and then there are the rice bags and the clothes-hangers."

Gasan expressed the same idea. When he was studying under Tekisui, his teacher was very severe. Sometimes he even beat him. Other pupils would not stand this kind of teaching and quit. Gasan remained, saying: "A poor disciple utilizes a teacher's influence. A fair disciple admires a teacher's kindness. A good disciple grows strong under a teacher's discipline."

The enlightenment: Gasan took so much abuse during his discipleship, and after all that, Tekisui told him, "U fail bro."

"What!" Gasan ejaculated. "U crazy bro how did I fail after I took all those beatings and etc...?"

"There's another kind of disciple," Tekisui said. "Gangster Disciples. This was a training program for the Gangster Disciples. We're looking for more, like, badass types. Your humility is actually not what we're going for. It's not on-brand for us."

"Gangster Disciples—totally forgot about them!" laughed Gasan. "There is egg on my face I assure you of that. Better change the name of this koan to 'Four Kinds of Disciples!'"

And so they did. Not in time for today's publication, but for later.

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." Goals are holes.

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