Bells and Robes

Ummon asked: `The world is such a wide world, why do you answer a bell and don ceremonial robes?'

Mumon's Comment: When one studies Zen one need not follow sound or colour or form. Even though some have attained insight when hearing a voice or seeing a colour or a form, this is a very common way. It is not true Zen. The real Zen student controls sound, colour, form, and actualizes the truth in his everyday life.

Sound comes to the ear, the ear goes to the sound. When you blot out sound and sense, what do you understand? While listening with ears one never can understand. To understand intimately one should see sound.

When you understand, you belong to the family;
When you do not understand, you are a stranger.
Those who do not understand belong to the family,
And when they understand they are strangers.

A Zen koan from the classic collection The Gateless Gate. Original transcription by Ben Walter and Adam Fuller of iBiblio.

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