Friday, October 8, 2010

A Meeting of Two Masters

Sometime in the early 1970’s, two Buddhist masters met in Cambridge, Massachusetts. One of them, Kalu Rinpoche, was a renowned Tibetan meditation master who had spent many years in solitary retreat in the remote mountain caves of Tibet. The other was Seung Sahn, a Korean Zen master who had recently come to the United States and was supporting himself by working in a Province, Rhode Island, Laundromat, slowly planting the seeds of Zen in the minds of those coming to wash their clothes. At this now famous meeting on enlightened minds, Seung Sahn held up an orange and, in classic Zen dharma combat fashion, demanded, “What is this?”

Kalu Rinpoche just looked at him, wonderingly.

Again Master Seung Sahn asked, “What is this?”

Finally, Rinpoche turned to his translator and asked, “Don’t they have oranges in Korea?”

--Joseph Goldstein, One Dharma, The Emerging Western Buddhism


  1. I was looking for the 'like' button!

  2. Ahh. At least no one killed a cat for the lesson (Blue Cliff Record or Book of Serenity). Zen makes no sense even to Tibetans and I find that reassuring.

    Just found your blog. I do a lot of running at Battle Creek, especially the end of July, beginning of August, when the blackberries are in season.

  3. Welcome! Glad you found the site!

    Regarding Tibetans; they don't practice Zen, they practice another form of Buddhism (which is one of the more subtle jokes underlying the surface humor).

    Let me know if you'd to hook up for a run at Battle Creek!

  4. That's what I meant - the traditions are so different. Even different branches of each tradition have trouble understanding each other. I was trying to play with the idea of senselessness in Zen.