We often call a mischievous child a "scamp." Is that really fair? Do they "scamper" away from us by choice—or because we chase them, with an axe? We must remember that we ourselves are part of nature, along with the scamps we chop.

The koan: "Happy Chinaman"

Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America with observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.

This Hotei lived in the T'ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples about him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: "Give me one penny." And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach others, again he would reply: "Give me one penny."

Once he was about his play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: "What is the significance of Zen?"

Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.

"Then," asked the other, "what is the actualization of Zen?"

At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.

The enlightenment: You should have heard the harrumphing I had to put up with from the School Board Curriculum Approval people about this. "First of all, 'Chinaman' is considered a racial slur," they told me. "On top of that, you're asking us to endorse the behavior an erratically-behaving adult male who approaches children on the street and hands them 'gifts' out of a mysterious 'sack.' When the man is not molesting children, he is extorting money from passersby. And his only redeeming quality—his purported wisdom in the area of zen—seems to consist solely of meaningless street pantomimes. While there are certainly plenty of valuable educational texts on the topic of Eastern religions, this does not seem to be one of them."

They don't understand because they're part of the system.

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." Acknowledge, then avoid.

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