Saturday, August 23, 2008

P.5 The Validity of Religious Language / Method II

Consider the following sermon from Goso:

If people ask me what Zen is like I will say that it is like learning the art of burglary. The son of a burglar saw his father growing older and thought: “if he is unable to carry out his profession, who will be the bread winner of this family, except myself? I must learn the trade.” He intimated the idea to his father, who approved it. One night the father took the son to a big house, broke through the fence, entered the house, and opening one of the large chests, told the son to go in and pick out the clothings. As soon as he got into it the lid was dropped and the lock was securely applied. The father now came out to the courtyard, and loudly knocking at the door woke up the family, whereas he himself quietly slipped away by the former hole in the fence. The residents got exited and lighted the candles, but found that the burglars had already gone. The son, who remained all the time in the chest securely confined, thought of his cruel father. He was greatly mortified, when a fine idea flashed upon him. He made a noise which sounded like the gnawing of a rat. The family told the maid to take a candle and examine the chest. When the lid was unlocked, out came the prisoner, who blew out the light, pushed away the maid, and fled. The people ran after him. Noticing a well by the road, he picked up a large stone and threw it into the water. The pursuers all gathered around the well trying to find the burglar drowning himself in the dark hole. In the meantime he was safely back in his fathers house. He blamed that latter very much for his narrow escape. Said the father, “Be not offended, my son. Just tell me how you got off.” When the son told him about all his adventures the father remarked, “There you are, you have learned the art!”


  1. Crumbs, most of my family have been in prison for crimes of all kinds, does that mean they are all followers of Zen?

  2. Perhaps; but only they could answer that. How do you think they would respond?

    your comments always make me think, this would be a great guy to have a beer with. It's in no way ironic that you're an artist in the form you are.