- Gutei's Finger -- Whenever anyone asked him about Zen, the great master Gutei would quietly raise one finger into the air. A boy in the village began to imitate this behavior. Whenever he heard people talking about Gutei's teachings, he would interrupt the discussion and raise his finger. Gutei heard about the boy's mischief. When he saw him in the street, he seized him and cut off his finger. The boy cried and began to run off, but Gutei called out to him. When the boy turned to look, Gutei raised his finger into the air. At that moment the boy became enlightened.
- If you meet the Buddha, kill the Buddha.
- Once upon a time, Nan-in recieved a university professor at his home. The professor considered himself an expert on Zen, and he came to inverview Nan-in about it. When it was time for tea, Nan-in poured his visitor's cup, but when it was full, he did not stop pouring. The professor continued to watch until he could no longer restrain himself. "It is overflowing," the man exclaimed. No more will go in!"
"Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you, too, are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you are first empty, like the cup?"
- What is the color of the wind?
- Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, "The flag moves." The other said, "The wind moves." They argued back and forth but could not agree. Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch, said, "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves." The two monks were struck with awe.
- When Banzan was walking through a market he overheard a conversation between a butcher and his customer.
"Give me the best piece of meat you have," said the customer.
"Everything in my shop is the best," replied the butcher. "You cannot find here any piece of meat that is not the best."
At these words Banzan became enlightened.
- One day Chuang-tzu and a friend were walking along a riverbank. "How delightfully the fishes are enjoying themselves in the water!" Chuang-tzu exclaimed.
"You are not a fish," his friend said. "How do you know whether or not the fishes are enjoying themselves?"
"You are not me," Chuang-tzu said. "How do you know that I do not know that the fishes are enjoying themselves?"
- Two monks were once travelling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was falling. Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.
"Come on, girl," said the first monk. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.
The second monk did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. "We monks don't go near females," he said. "It is dangerous. Why did you do that?"
"I left the girl there,: the first monk said. "Are you still carrying her?"
- A man walking across a field encounters a tiger. He fled, the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, he caught hold of a wild vine and swung himself over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Terrified, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger had come, waiting to eat him. Two mice, one white and one black, little by little began to gnaw away at the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine in one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
- A monk asked Chimon, "Before the lotus blossom has emerged from the water, what is it?"
Chimon said, "A lotus blossom."
The monk pursued, "After it has come out of the water, what is it?"
Chimon replied, "Lotus leaves."
- Daibai asked Baso: `What is Buddha?'
Baso said: `This mind is Buddha.'
More koans are forthcoming, as this is a work in progress.