I want to share a Zen koan with you, but I think first it needs a little introduction.
A koan is a teaching fable. They don’t always make immediate sense to Western ears, (and may not to Japanese ones either, I don’t know), but that’s the point. They’re meant to make the student (and in this sense, we are all students) ponder them. Deceptively simple, like Haiku, they are powerful reminders of a way to live that is in tune with ourselves and the Tao.
I was given this koan by the Universe in what can only be described as an episode where the Universe was showing off its sense of humor. (And those of you who think the Universe HAS no sense of humor have never really studied a platypus.) (Of course, some say the platypus is proof that God smokes pot, but I digress.) Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was an idiot. A cute idiot, but an idiot nonetheless. Like many cute idiots, I found a ‘man.’ This man was charming, smart, and just-so-slightly dangerous. You know, the kind of man that if I had a big brother, my big brother would have kicked his ass and buried the body before my next date. But I didn’t have a big brother, so I went out with this jerk. I mean, he even had a special made-up name, which at the time I thought was edgy and cool.
Yes, I know. Didn’t I say I was an idiot? Pay attention!
So I go out with this guy, and of course he treats me like an idiot. (Fitting, wouldn’t you say?) It took me mumbleSIXmumble months to figure out this jerk was no good, and I dumped him. However, he had my favorite radio at his house. So instead of buy a new radio, which on my income at the time really was not doable, I went over to his house to get it, with my new boyfriend in tow.
I rang the well. “Ding dong!” (Remember that alliteration.) I was met at the front door by a fat guy and a skinny guy. (Don’t some jokes begin this way?) Both guys were completely.stark.raving.naked.
You read right.
My current boyfriend turned beet red, and did I mention he’s a martial arts teacher? The storm clouds were brewing, my friend, and the forecast did not look promising. All this for a radio?
Ever onward, I went into the house and asked after my ex. He was in the bedroom, I was told, with his current girlfriend. She had a Playboy bunny name, and you could feel the heat from my current boyfriend’s fury. I asked to use the bathroom. As I walked by, the door to my ex’s bedroom as open, and they were engaged in, well, things that are better done with the door closed.
Particularly with a fat naked guy and a skinny naked guy in the next room, call me crazy.
So I retreated into the bathroom and sat there, trying to figure out whether I should just stand in the living room and shout for my radio, leave, or wait it out. And then I saw it.
There, on the window sill, an innocuous little book, entitled, Zen Koans.
Take it from me. When in this situation, beware of Trojans bearing gifts. Or something.
I picked up the book and flipped to a page at random. And here, in all its glory and magnificence, is what the Universe said to me:
“Chau-Chu fell down in the snow, and yelled, “Help me up! Help me up!” A Zen monk came and laid down beside him.
“Chau-Chu got up and went away.”