Zen Koans Explained: "Children of His Majesty"

Hamilton Nolan · 06/20/14 03:54PM

People fear showing themselves in public without clothes. But why? Can you imagine if horses did the same thing? Horses with clothes... the hooved folly.

Zen Koans Explained: "Three Kinds of Disciples"

Hamilton Nolan · 06/13/14 03:03PM

Most of what we think of as information is merely noise. Random signals, differentiated from the background only by meaningless fluctuations. What if one of those signals—randomly—sounded like sex noises? Scientists say it is possible.

Zen Koans Explained: "The Stingy Artist"

Hamilton Nolan · 06/06/14 02:03PM

One day an oafish bug set foot upon a fragile leaf. Being clumsy, he fell. The next day, a gluttonous bug set foot upon the same leaf. Being portly, he fell. Turns out there was a bird overhead the whole time who wanted to eat bugs, but couldn't, cause they fell off the leaves. Do you like that story Y/N.

Zen Koans Explained: "True Friends"

Hamilton Nolan · 05/30/14 04:46PM

Life is not static. We often have enemies; years later, we are sitting next to those former enemies, laughing in friendship. That probably won't happen with the enemies you have now, though. They never forgive.

Zen Koans Explained: "A Drop of Water"

Hamilton Nolan · 05/23/14 12:25PM

A door has a handle. A handle has a grip. A grip is the name of somebody who does something making movies. There was a movie called "The Doors." Think about this, as a crafty squirrel picks your pocket.

Zen Koans Explained: "Teaching the Ultimate"

Hamilton Nolan · 05/16/14 01:02PM

"Zen." Roll the world over in your mouth. "Zzzzennnn." Do you taste it? I can, but I spent years practicing that. Years. Don't expect to get there on the first day.

Zen Koans Explained: "Eating the Blame"

Hamilton Nolan · 05/09/14 02:05PM

When a man becomes old, he often becomes pensive as well. He spends long days thinking back on his past. Back, back, back, back, back, back. Back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back.

Zen Koans Explained: "True Reformation"

Hamilton Nolan · 05/02/14 03:08PM

Imagine your younger self. Your previous consciousness. Occupy your own younger mind. What does it desire? More to the point, what does it need? Does it need candy? Yep.

Huh. There Are Jews in Burma?

Adam Weinstein · 04/30/14 02:10PM

Yes: 22, to be exact. But now that the military dictatorship is "liberalizing," they're coming back, baby! Their de-facto leader is a young U.S.-educated entrepreneur named Sammy Samuels:

Zen Koans Explained: "Fire-Poker Zen"

Hamilton Nolan · 04/25/14 03:18PM

Often is it said, "It's what's on the inside that counts." When I hear those words, I laugh and laugh, and laugh and laugh. What is this, amateur hour?

Zen Koans Explained: "The Tunnel"

Hamilton Nolan · 04/18/14 01:46PM

A man who runs around town talking about "Zen" is considered to be wise. But a man who runs around town talking about "Zip" is considered to be a zipper salesman, or perhaps a mathematician. Or perhaps a foreigner. If asked to write an essay on this topic, what would you say?

Zen Koans Explained: "Incense Burner"

Hamilton Nolan · 04/11/14 02:20PM

A simple piece of tape: one side smooth to the touch, the other sticky. It binds for us, but it does not bind us. How does the sticky side taste? The man who knows is forever silent.

Study: Twitter Is Destroying Your Marriage, You Self-Absorbed Jerk

Adam Weinstein · 04/07/14 03:25PM

Who says journalism degrees are useless? If not for Russell Clayton and his doctoral research at the University of Missouri's j-school, we might have only guessed at the fact that your inability to stop tweeting leads your spouse to, uh, "favorite" someone else's handle.

Zen Koans Explained: "Sour Miso"

Hamilton Nolan · 04/04/14 03:39PM

Consider a salad. It is made up of many ingredients. Yet we give then all one name: "salad." It's kind of funny.

Zen Koans Explained: "Learning to Be Silent"

Hamilton Nolan · 03/28/14 02:15PM

If a toad sits in the sun, why does he do it? "To be warm," you might say. But have you asked the toad? It's possible that you have, but not probable.

Zen Koans Explained: "Killing"

Hamilton Nolan · 03/14/14 04:13PM

An ant is not the size of a man. Yet can a man with no eyes build a maze? A man is not the size of an ant. Yet can an ant build, for example, an automobile factory, or a yurt? I read these things in a book.

Zen Koans Explained: "Nothing Exists"

Hamilton Nolan · 03/06/14 02:11PM

Imagine two men. Both have swords. As you're imagining that, your cat walks into the room. Your cat is carrying a sword in its teeth. "Where did you get that, kitty?" you ask. Will your cat ever respect you again?

Zen Koans Explained: "Soldiers of Humanity"

Hamilton Nolan · 02/28/14 03:43PM

The concept of "wisdom" is often thought of something that straddles the corporeal-ethereal border, a sort of empyrean package that we "carry" in our minds. Those who truly possess wisdom, though, will tell you that it's more like a horse.

Zen Koans Explained: "The Dead Man's Answer"

Hamilton Nolan · 02/21/14 02:12PM

Come closer. Closer now. Look into my eyes. Look very deeply. In the very depths of their blackness, you will see: a tiny monkey. How was that? Did that sound zen? Cause I can tweak it however you guys want it.