Koans and Coen
A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.
Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
I like zen koans. This one really asks the question about how do we find satisfaction, joy or happiness with death all around us.
“Koans don’t really explain things. Instead they show you something by opening a gate. You walk through, and you take a ride. Before anything is explained, there is the sky, the earth, redwood forests, pelicans, rivers, rats, the city of San Francisco. And you are part of all that. We’re all part of all that. In the land of koans, you see that everything that happens in your life is for you. There is no one else it can be for. Your life counts.”
Koans are really paradoxical riddles. I’ve always been drawn to paradoxes. Some of my favorites occur in logic. Take for example the statement: “This statement is false.” It cannot be true as it says it is false, however, that makes it true. Or this self-contradictory one attributed to Socrates: “I know one thing: that I know nothing.” And the doozy from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22: “Pilots can get out of combat duty if they are psychologically unfit, but anyone who tries to get out of combat duty proves he is sane.”
The artist that immediately comes to mind who created visual representations of paradoxes is M.C. Escher and his optical illusions.
I’ll conclude with this one: If I write a blog, and no one reads it, is it still a blog?