icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle


A Goose in a Bottle?

I recently heard a wonderful Zen koan about a disciple named Riko who asks his master Nansen for help getting his goose out of a bottle without killing it or breaking the glass. Apparently the disciple had put the baby gosling in the bottle in the first place, fed it, and now was now stuck with a mature goose in a bottle. As the disciple walked away in discouragement, Nansen suddenly yelled "Riko!!" who instantly answered, "Yes, master!" Then Nansen said, "You see? The goose is now out of the bottle."

What does this nutty zen koan teach us? As we grow up, we each lock up our natural Buddha nature into the bottle of mind. We imprison it in a conceptual "bottle" of rules, expectations and identities and control it for years. The master's sudden shouting startled Riko out of his customary preoccupied reverie, his goose-in-the-bottle worries. No longer trapped in the imaginary inner world of identity, time and story, he woke up and the goose was out of the bottle.

Human beings, with our exceptional intelligence and oh-so-important self-concept, get lost instead in fantasy all the time. Trapped in the bottle of thought, we make every problem more complicated. Whatever startles us awake, however, holds the potential for transcending this self-imposed suffering. We are not "identities" or "conditions," we are expansive consciousness dwelling in a magnificent and every-changing wonder
Post a comment