Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

Enlightenment Is a Male Fantasy

Do not aspire to great realization. Great realization is everyday tea and meals.
—Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo Gyoji


In fact, sometimes I still don’t really like Zen. My ex-boyfriend introduced me to Zen, and this is probably why I hated it so much. He was a lovely, idealistic, over-intellectual type who could not cook or clean, and his mom bought his clothes. He loved the koan of Nansen killing the cat. It goes like this: Some monks are arguing over a cat. The master, Nansen, holds up a cat and says to his monks, “If one of you can say a word, I’ll spare the cat. If not, I will kill it.” No one can say anything, and so he kills the cat. Later he tells this story to his disciple Joshu, who then puts his sandals on his head. Nansen then says, “Ah, if you had been there, you could have spared the cat.”

I hated this shit so much. I was coming to Buddhism with all of my suffering and anger and fear, and they give me a story

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