Tag Archives: koans

Yes We Koan!!! Part Deux – The Vine of Much Itching

A Yin That Can Not Be Scratched

This is another entry into the Koan Kontest at Obotski Central. Because of it’s length, and the fact that it kind of sums up the whole issue, I have made it a separate post. The original Koans I did are a few entries back from this one. Like the others, this will probably fly right over the heads of the Obotski, because they are limited in thinking New Thoughts. Here is where you can find the contest:


The Vine of Much Itching

Once, as a Master instructed a group of acolytes by Koan, one of them inquired why the Master recited to them the Koans of The Master of Dung, and of The Ship of Village Idiots, and of The Wisdom of Feet, yet did not instruct them in the Greatest of All Koans, The Vine of Much Itching. This Koan was known by the learned and un-learned alike, under one name or another, and all had oft heard the story since the age of children. The Master directed the acolyte to relate the tale, in his own manner, and thus:

Once, in the corner of the garden of newly appointed Prefect, the Palace Gardener noticed a small vine growing, a vine known by many names – The Vine of Misery, The Vine of Skin Bubbles, but most often, The Vine of Much Itching. Tales of this vine were so ancient, and so ubiquitous, that the great Fu Xi himself had indeed written of it, The Book of Itching, believing that Great Divinations could be had simply from the study thereof. The Prefect, supposedly a Man of Great Wisdom, instructed the Gardener to simply cut off the vine at the ground. The Gardener obeyed, leaving the root of the Vine in the ground.

When the Vine re-grew, as indeed it did to great degree, the Prefect ignored it, and all entreaties to uproot the Vine. Soon, the Misery was great among the dwellers of the Palace, for lo, did all passing the Vine swear that the very air itself would afflict them with the poisonous oil. But, still the Prefect did not order the uprooting and burning of the Vine, said refusal being the reason for much curiosity and speculation.

Some, among those who were never pleased with the appointment of the Prefect, thought the reason to be Foolish Pride, wherein the Prefect would not admit his error in not properly disposing of the Vine. Others, that the Prefect was not a man of Wisdom after all, but merely a Fool in robes of authority, while still others mused that the Prefect, being born in a different Province, was simply unaware of the nature of the Vine.

Still others, versed in the ways of political intrigue, voiced with certainty that the Prefect intended to confound those not close to him with miserable scratching.  And, those who were most faithful to the Prefect, and close to him in their daily duties, mocked the doubters with derision, and defended their Lord, swearing that the Prefect had already disposed of the Vine, and that verily there was no need to do aught else, even while scratching furiously themselves, and wailing in grief. Finally, after well nigh three years of suffering, the Prefect, who himself had finally been touched by the Itch, and whose Ministers could barely carry on their duties for the constant scratching, moaning, and putting on of tinctures, ordered the Vine be uprooted and burned.

However, even after destruction, the Vine continued to afflict, for it had propagated by way of sprigs and berries, and those previously infected were made even more susceptible to the poison. Even those who scratched not, had lost confidence in the Prefect. Because of this, the province suffered, and the Prefect was recalled by the Emperor to serve in small and sundry ways, where he could do little harm.

Thus ended the acolyte’s telling of the tale, and all awaited the words of The Master. The Master spoke saying, verily, that this was the Greatest of Koans, and one from which much knowledge could be gleaned. And, that all the Koans taught thus far, were but small kernels of enlightenment which the acolytes must take in to fully understand the Vine of Much Itching, for the Vine itself was not the true source of the Great Misery and Suffering that befell the province.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

Yes We Koan!!! – Moral Lessons for the Obotski

Will This Issue Drag On Forever???

The Obotski Central website is running a “koan” contest around the Birther Issue.  Wiki defines a koan as a “paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.”  Naturlich, I submitted several (edited here), dealing with the inability of the Obotski to see the Big Picture, or their own role in contributing to the Opaque Years.  These will probably fly right over the heads of the Obotski, who tend to be “little picture” thinkers.

Here is a link if you want to contribute any:


The Pit of Quicksand

Near a Monastery of Very Wise Monks, a road forked. With heavy rains,
a pit of quicksand would form in the left fork of the road and all
who unknowingly traveled upon it during those times would stumble into
the pit and sink to their deaths. During the rainy season, a group of
Very Foolish Pilgrims came to the fork, using a map which had been made
during a dry season. According to the map, taking the Left Fork would
save many days of journeying.

The Monks tried to warn the Pilgrims that they were in error, and not
to take the Left Fork. But a great argument ensued. The Monks taunted
the Pilgrims, and in great merriment, called them many names, all to no
avail. Nothing would deter the Pilgrims from traveling down the wrong
fork of the road.

Desirous of proving how wrong and foolish the Pilgrims were, the Very
Wise Monks raced ahead so that they might point out the pit of
quicksand to the Pilgrims, and delight in the looks upon their faces.
However, in their great haste to win the argument, the Monks forgot
where they were, and fell headlong into the pit themselves and died.
Coming to the pit, the Very Foolish Pilgrims realized the Monks had been
right all along. However, still desirous of saving time, they simply
stepped across the Pit of Quicksand on the bodies of the Very Wise Monks
and thus saved many days of Hard Traveling.

The Master of Dung

The Buddha was fond of this tale,and would tell it often to his new
Disciples. A Dung Hauler and his assistant were scooping horse dung from
the street when the assistant slipped on a pile of dung and landed
unceremoniously upon his rump in a fresh pile of steaming dung. The Dung
Hauler laughed mightily, and said to his assistant, “Verily, that is
why you are the assistant, and why I am the Master of Dung!”

Invariably, his Disciples would laugh, but always asked The Buddha
what Great Meaning could possibly attach to this Simple Tale of
Buffoonery. Whereupon, The Buddha would reply, “It is among the Greatest
of Lessons, wherein one does not see the Big Picture. Beware of Ego and
False Pride lest you become a Master of Dung.”

The King of the Monkeys

A certain village was plagued by a troop of monkeys who would sneak
into the village and steal fruit and foodstuffs from the vendors. Bored
with his assignment, and seeking advancement, the Captain of the
Village Garrison set out with his men to capture or kill the monkeys and
bring the raids to an end. While they were thus engaged, a group of
bandits descended upon the village and pillaged with impunity, taking
much gold, silver, and other treasures.

Later, the Captain and his men returned to the village with the
leader of the Monkey Troop in a cage. Appearing before the Headman, the
Captain boasted of the capture, and suggested for the morale of the
village, that the monkey be displayed in the center of the village, with
a sign reading “The King of the Monkeys.” The Headman agreed, and
ordered that the Captain be immediately imprisoned, caged and displayed
with exactly such a sign.

The Five-Toed Sloth

During the Reign Of The Emperor Mongo, a Concubine, desirous of
causing mischief, began a false rumor that the Emperor had six toes on
each foot. At that time, such a deformity was taken to be a sign of
Heavenly Disfavor, and boded ill for the Kingdom. As the rumor took
hold, there was a call from rude commoners and peasants for the Emperor
to appear barefooted in public, and thus dispel the rumor.

The Palace Eunuchs urged the Emperor not to comply with this simple
request, because no other Emperor had ever done such a thing, nor was
this required by either law or tradition. Many Eunuchs were employed to
dispute the rumors, with great stridency and loud, high-pitched
protestations. Many papers were circulated to calm the populace, so many
in fact that never, even unto this Day, have the Outhouses of the
Empire been so well stocked.

After three years, the rumor had grown so large, that the governance
of the Empire suffered from the large number of Castrati engaged in
defense of the Emperor. Emperor Mongo finally appeared bare-footed at
the Festival of Happy Feet and the rumor began to die. Yet, because of
his Great Sloth in addressing this simple rumor, Emperor Mongo was never
fully trusted by the people. Thus, was it written that while words and
paper may not wrap a fire, they do serve to stoke one very well.

The Ship of Village Idiots

An edict proceeded from Wuhan that all Village Idiots in the Hubei
Province be gathered from each village and transported to Wuhan, there
to be cared for, and perhaps taught a useful trade. A Junk was
dispatched up and down the Yangtze River to collect the idiots. But at
each village, there was much consternation among those who had tormented
and bedeviled the Idiots, who became greatly distressed of how they
would pass their day without idiots to taunt.

The kindly junk Captain therefore permitted the taunters to travel
with the idiots, to ease their travail. Upon the arrival of the ship at
Wuhan, the Captain explained this to the Head Keeper of Idiots, and
offered, at a price, to return the Taunters to their respective
villages. The Head Keeper of Idiots replied there was no need to return
them, for there was truly no difference between the two groups, except
that the Taunters would require more instruction to be of use to

The Man With Unclean Hands

A man told a false tale,
That beneath a large rock
Lay a great Treasure.

On the path to the rock
The Man dug a pit.
And filled it with manure.

Covering the pit with leaves
He watched and jeered
Those covered in ordure.

Who is the Most Unclean???
Whose odor Most Foul???
Who is Most Impure???

(NOTE: The above Koan is about the story concerning Obotski who created Phony Kenyan Obama Birth Certificates.)

What The Thunder Said

Once, in Wuhan, during the Season of Festivals, an Itinerant Peddler of Fireworks was careless, and started a cooking fire in his tent. A spark caused a great ignition of his wares. The stalls of many nearby merchants were destroyed. A group of Indignant Merchants then banded together and seized fireworks from all such peddlers and removed them to a place of safe storage.

A Complaint was made to the Prefect, and the parties came together to present their claims. The Merchants argued that they were of higher education, possessed of greater wisdom, and better suited to store and protect the fireworks, for the good of the town. The Prefect inquired if this was truly in The Way, and would not much bad karma come from their act.

The Merchants replied that this thought had also come to them lately, and that several Monks had just been paid to bless the fireworks, and were even now, at the time of this Inquiry, burning incense and carrying censors through the warehouse to purify the goods and purge any evil. The Prefect wondered at the distant rumble of Thunder on such a clear day.

The Rotten Acorn

A Wise Monk passed a Man with a watering jar, planting an acorn, and asked to see the seed. Upon examination, the Monk declared it a Bad Seed from which there would be no good fruit nor any shade, and handed the acorn back. The Man proceeded to drop the seed into the ground and kicked the soil back over the hole. The Monk asked why the Man had planted the seed when he knew no good come from it. The Man replied that he was merely disposing of the acorn, and would not tend or water it.

The Monk cursed him for a Fool, saying that a Bad Seed would but flourish in neglect, and cause much harm. The Man inquired of the Monk what should he do to keep this from happening. The Monk replied, water it and give it much care. The Man then cursed the Monk for a Fool, saying that was what he first meant to do when the Monk stopped him. The Monk emptied the watering jar upon the Man, and continued on his journey.

The Wisdom of Feet

An acolyte, who with study had advanced much in her Wisdom, found herself in contention with certain loud, obnoxious, and feeble-minded persons. Confident that her studies had taught her the ways of proper thought, she was perplexed when these persons continued in the Path of Folly, and yea, verily at an even greater volume and insistence than before her instruction, and with many falsehoods.

She inquired of her Master how this could be, and lamented that if her Head could not contain enough Wisdom to prevail against even petty persons of little thought, perhaps she could never become learned in The Way. The Master responded, saying that all Wisdom is not found within one’s Head, and that one’s Feet also tread The Way.

The Insulted Acolyte

Once, a man who had grown rich through trade, prepared himself to study The Way with a Master. For several years he read, and then read again, and often, from The Book of Stone and Sand, becoming able at will to recite each of the Koans therein. He learned to calm himself, learned the pleasures of silence, and studied the methods of contemplation. Confident of his progress, the Man approached the Master and made application to become his acolyte, informing the Master of all his many achievements.

The Master asked him his understanding of Finding A Diamond On A Muddy Road. Speaking softly and respectfully, the would-be acolyte replied that while Muju was no doubt a Great Master, he flaunted proper form in this Koan and it was too long, contained no riddles or paradoxes, and lacked all inscrutability, as indeed did many of Muju’s Koans.

The Master rejected his application informing the scholar that he was dumber than the ass which walked in a circle at the grinding wheel, braying and trying to force Wisdom into a proper form as if a piece of grain. What, the Master inquired, would be his next great undertaking–perhaps giving the proper form to the Winds, or deciding the proper form of the water in the Ocean???

Greatly insulted at these words of rebuke, the formerly-serene acolyte cursed him with several bad words and flung a rock at the Master, who side stepped the Taste of Bonzo’s Stone. Now, said the smiling Master, because you have ceased thinking, you have become a student who can be taught. Shamed, and enlightened, the Man forgot all he knew, became a proper acolyte, and grew in knowledge of The Way.


All in all, it is great fun!!!

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter