"Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat forever!" the man said brightly, extending his fishing pole towards me. Man—or machine? This was the worst visit to Disneyland's animatronic Country Bear Jamboree I'd had yet. And I'd had a few.

The koan: "Is That So?"

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbours as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parent went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbours and everything else he needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth - the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: "Is that so?"

The enlightenment: Hakuin spoke only a few words of English. Big surprise—he was Japanese!! Luckily it didn't get him into too much trouble this time.

And isn't that what it's all about in this world—luck?

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." Four feet of chain link fencing.

[Photo: Shutterstock]