Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Koan of the Week

It’s back, a new “koan of the week.”
(I read this one a while back and now cannot find it again, there are a couple different koans involving a cat, but I liked this one---paraphrased)

The Tied-up cat
A group of monks gathered each day to meditate together, and a young disciple owned a cat that would climb onto the statues and disrupt the monks’ meditation.

The master asked the disciple to tie the cat down to the statue so that it could not interfere with their zazen, (meditation).

The disciple dutifully tied up the cat every time and years past until one day the master became ill and died. The disciple continued to tie the cat down. The disciple with the cat eventually left the monastery and the cat died as well.

The remaining monks got another cat and tied it to the statue.

I think I like this koan because it is so obvious an allegory for some of the rituals that we all go through, sometimes we do things simply because we have been doing it for so long, we assume it must continue to be done.

So, the question is: When is it time to untie the cat?


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