IF a man has walked the stony path and IF he has seen the rising sun and IF he has sipped from the frigid waters and IF he has trod upon the rolling hills THEN and ONLY THEN may he—Eric? Eric. I'm literally doing a thing, right here. Stop.

The koan: "Publishing the Sutras"

Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.

Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.

It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.

Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.

The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

The enlightenment: "This guy had the right idea," said Stephen King.

"He sure did" said John, G-something, who wrote all those lawyer books.

"Yes he did," agreed the lady who wrote Eat Pray Love.

"It's settled then" said Mark Twain. "Instead of publishing any more of our books we're gonna stop doing that and give all the money to the needy instead."

And so they did. Many lives were saved. And did people miss all the books? Not at all. They just read all the books that were already out there, big deal.

At that, he looked up at the calendar... it was Christmas day. [The end]

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." Step in the hole.

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