Teisho: Case 72, Book of Equanimity: Chûyû’s “Monkey”

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“… a six-windowed room represents our life, or our experience of the world through the six senses …”

zen six senses

Description: This talk begins with a reading from The Lost Books of the Odyssey, which aptly describes what a koan is. Agamemnon has commissioned his wisest counselors to write a book that will explain the whole world. Dissatisfied with the result, he then asks them to bring him a single word that contains everything. In the koan discussed tonight, young master Kyôzan asks Chûyû what buddha-nature means. Chûyû explains using an allegory in which a six-windowed room represents our life, or our experience of the world through the six senses. Inside, there is a monkey that represents “buddha-nature.” As we sit, we can discover that we are just a room, a box of sense experiences (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling and mental activity). Then, we can study who is actually having these experiences. Zen is truly alive when the monkey in the box clearly shows itself.

Post & Featured image: Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash.

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