KOAN and Haiku (01)


. KOAN and Haiku (02) .. Dreams 夢

. KOAN and Haiku (03) .. Original face and Immortality

. Four-word Zen Teachings 四字禅語 yoji zengo .


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Koan and Haiku 公案と俳句

They may not be HAIKU in the purist sense, but they connect in the realm where Zen and Haiku meet. Some need a lot of explanation to be understood, some stand quite well by themselves.

This is an ongoing topic of my haiku life.
Check it out, if you please, and come up with your version.

smacking a child -
the sound of one hand


a mosquito
aiming noisily -
the sound of one hand

. Daruma san and the Mosquito .

what is the sound
of one hand slapping
its own back ?

the SIGHT of one hand -
. Hakuin Zenji 白隠禅師 .


.. .. .. Koan, the Monkey Lessons

The Monkey Lesson from The Chuang Tzu

An arrogant prince took his friends on a boat trip to an island famous for its monkeys; but as the royal boat docked, the monkeys - with one exception - fled in terror and hid. The one monkey who had not fled put on an extraordinary show of agility for the visitors. He swung through the branches, leaping and twirling in the most graceful way.

The prince drew his bow and shot an arrow at the monkey; but the animal caught the arrow in mid-flight.

The prince would not be twarted by such an ostentatious monkey; and so he ordered his guards to kill the monkey with all deliberate speed. Immediately a hail of arrows pierced the monkey who fell dead at the prince's feet. Then the prince turned to his companion, Yen Bu, "You see what happens to fools who advertise their cleverness. He wanted to be noticed, to stand out from all the others of his kind. Creatures who crave such attention soon get more than they bargained for."

Yen Bu considered the monkey's actions and his fate and the prince's contemptuous words. As soon as he returned home he approached a holy man and asked to be accepted as his disciple. "I seek the humble life," he said, "the life of one who does not perform for others and therefore does not have to rely upon their approval and generous natures - which they may not possess.
I seek to find my happiness within myself; and when I find it I will regard it as a treasured gem and keep it safely hidden."

Yen Bu found his happiness within himself and in keeping it hidden, he kept himself out of sight, too. Everyone belived that he had to be a great man since he so easily shunned the court. And surely, they thought, he must have gained a great fortune to be so independent of royal patronage. Everywhere he went, people were in awe of him and sought to touch the hem of his robe. Without trying, he had acquired the mystique of greatness.

. Zhuangzi, Chuang-tsu and Haiku  


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. RELATIVITY

the tallest dwarf
meeting the smallest giant -
same size

Dear Friends, let me tell you a little story a wise man once told me.
He said:
"Once I found myself in an unfamiliar country, walking down a strange street. I looked around trying to get my bearings; and seeing two men who were standing nearby, I approached them. `Where am I?' I asked. `Who are you people?'

"The first man replied, `This is the world of Samsara, and in this world I happen to be the very tallest dwarf there is!' And the other man replied, `Yes, and I happen to be the shortest giant!'
"This encounter left me very confused because, you see, both men were exactly the same height."

I preface my remarks to you with this little story because I want to emphasize at the outset how important it is to consider the perception of things.

Hui Neng, the Sixth and last Patriarch of our Chan Path, once came upon two monks who were arguing about a banner that was waving in the wind.
The first monk said, "It is the banner that is moving." The other monk said, "No! It is the wind that is moving."
The Sixth Patriarch admonished them both. "Good Sirs," he said. "It is your mind that is doing all the moving!"

In the world of Samsara, Man is the measure of all things. Everything is relative. Everything is changing. Only in the real world, the world of Nirvana, is there constancy.
In Chan our task is to discriminate - not between the false and the false, but between the false and the real. Differences in outward appearance do not matter at all. The real world is inside us. It is even inside our mind.

fahne im wind -
der geist

.. .. .. .. .. .. flag in the wind -
.. .. .. .. .. .. the mind
.. .. .. .. .. .. unmoved


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. GOOD SNOW


good snow -
the flakes do not fall

I put this lesson of Upasaka in three lines, it seems to make a fine haiku.

When the Upasaka left Yo Shan, the latter sent ten Ch'an monks to accompany him to the front door of the monastery. Pointing his finger at the falling snow, the Upasaka said to them:
"Good snow! The flakes do not fall elsewhere."

A Ch'an monk named Ch'uan asked him: "Where do they fall?" The Upasaka slapped the monk in the face, and Ch'uan said: "You can't act so carelessly." The Upasaka replied: "What a Ch'an monk you are! The god of the dead will not let you pass." Ch'uan asked: "Then what does the Venerable Upasaka mean?" The Upasaka slapped him again and said: "You see like the blind and you talk like the dumb."

There is a lot more on this site:


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Bee and Paper

this foolish bee
taking real paper
for real

As the old master sat under a waxed- paper window studying a sutra, a bee began to buzz around the room; and the bee, drawn to the outside light, kept crashing into the window paper, trying to get out of the room.
Shen Zan watched the frustrated bee and said, "So you want to get out and enter the infinity of space! Well, you won't do it by penetrating old paper..." Then he said simply, "The door stands open but the bee refuses to go through it. See how it knocks its head against the shut window.

Foolish Bee! When will it understand that the Way is blocked by paper?"

CLICK here for more photos

Look at more amazing Images and Reflections

Photographs by Yao Xiang
with accompanying haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and others



wiping away
thoughts about homecoming ...
snow on snow

Chen-ou Liu

Wiping off thoughts alludes to a famous story about the third patriarch of Zen, Sosan:

Sosan approached Master Hui-ko (the second patriarch) and said to him:
“My mind is possessed by thoughts. I beg you, Master, wipe away these thoughts.”

Hui-ko appeared surprised and Sosan away saying,
“Go. Find your thoughts and bring them to me, then I’ll wipe them away for you.”

Sosan went outside. After some time he returned and said,
“Although I’ve looked for my thoughts, I can’t find them.”

To this Hui-ko replied,
“It seems then that I’ve done a good job ofwiping away your thoughts.”

-- an excerpt from The Book of Nothing,p.13


.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Arrows of Time

春の矢は未来を放ち 山笑う

spring arrow
to hit
the future

summer arrow
to hit
the moment

夏の矢は今を放ち 山滴り

秋の矢は過去を放ち 山粧う

autum arrow
to hit
the past

winter arrow
to hit

冬の矢は永遠を放つ 山眠る

Nan Hua Chan Buddhist Society

The ancients had the same problems with time that we have.
They said, "Days pass like a shuttle in a loom." First one way, then the other way. Back and forth, side to side.
Sometimes they said, "Days pass like arrows overhead."
We stand there and watch them fly by, wondering where they're all going.

Read the great teachings of Xu Yun here:

Safecopies of the above koans are here:

Kyudo is one of the Japanese martial arts, and is similar to archery.


Some stories with a morale, not necessarily Zen


. 庭前柏樹子 teizen hakujushi .
“the cypress tree in the courtyard”
“the cypress in front of the yard”
“that oak tree in the garden”
“the tree in the middle of the garden”

- the TREE . . . byakushin 柏槙 a kind of mountain juniper


My more serious treatment of Koan and Daruma san
.. .. KATSU! 渇  .. ..


"What does it take to enlighten a mouse?
A good KATZ!"

Gabi's Cat Koan


.. .. .. .. .. comparing good things

The Closer You Get, The Closer You Get

“A rich man visited a farmhouse. The farmer gave him a piece of cake and boasted: ‘This is the best cake in the whole world!’ The rich man tasted it, and commented, ‘It is all right. I would like, however, to invite you to my home and to taste the cake we serve there.’ The farmer returned his visit, later on. When he tasted the rich man’s cake, he exclaimed, ‘I never knew there was such good cake in existence!’

“The other replied, ‘I didn’t want to hurt your feelings, but you were familiar only with that dry cake of yours. I know many varieties. That is how I knew that yours was by no means the best in the world.’

“So it is when you get a taste of divine bliss: You know that nothing else in existence can equal it. Temptation then becomes dry and loses all its attractiveness. The best way to conquer temptation is to have something better to compare it with.”

Parhamahansa Yogananda

Comparing haiku, how does this one taste ?
How does Basho taste ?
And how Issa ?

Striving for the best we can do every day !



A monk asked Joshu,
"Do dogs have a Buddha-nature?"
Joshu answered, "Not."


Narayanan Raghunathan from India and his versions of

Metaphysical Haiku ~1~ Radiant Visions ~
Metaphysical Haiku ~2 ~ Bodha ~
Metaphysical Haiku ~3 ~ Chants of Silences ~


My thoughts on .. Cosmos and the Universe

sipping the universe
the stars in my wineglass

the universe -
my heart floating
on autumn clouds

a cool breeze
from the depth of the universe -
sunset in the valley

small haiku
use small words -


finding haiku -
the whole universe
in my mind

a few more of my thoughts on the subject :
finding haiku / a way to live


. Which is sugar?
Which is salt ?


Continue here with more of my Koan Haiku :

KOAN and Haiku (02) .. Dreams 夢 , Finger pointing to the moon

KOAN and Haiku (03) .. The Original Face

Yin and Yang Cats ..陰と陽と猫

Zen Riddles with BEE ..ミツバチと禅
. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Haiku and Moments

Voice of Buddha .. .. Frogs Farting :o) 。。蛙の屁

MANDALA .. Just the Beginning 。。曼荼羅

Mirror Moon Mind


Teapot philosophy

Change in Life

Insides and Teeth

Prayer of the Rain

Flower Heart

Frogs and Truth

Pilgrim Herder
Pilgrim's Path

Bowing Deeply

Bowl of silver filled with snow

. QUOTES . .. .. .. .. .. to enjoy haiku even more

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Tao, Dao and Haiku 道教と俳句
.. .. .. .. .. .. .. Tao of a useless tree


a cup of tea
and a koan to go -
cold morning

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea.
He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!"

"Like this cup," Nan-in said,
"you are full of your own opinions and speculations.
How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

Gabi Greve, February 2012


External LINK
Zen Koans Database


. heijooshin 平常心 Heijoshin, the even mind .




Anonymous said...

Aaa, a good KATZ !

This made me laugh! Thanks !

Your arrows of time are majestic.


Anonymous said...

Gabi san wonderfu[oo]ll ~
I like these very much ~
In my opinion they are Superb

winter cloud turns
the moutain upside down
i sip lemon tea ~

Narayanan ~

Gabi Greve said...

Cosmos and the Universe

Gabi! Wonderful!
I hope everyone follows the link to see your blog page. Read Gabi's haiku, folks, and the definition of vanguard haiku should be clearer to you.

Here is a Martian ku for you, Gabi-

communicator ring
on the finger pointing
at the autumn earth



.. .. ..

Thanks Gabi for your kigo beyond the seasons!
I enjoyed the stories too.


Thanks a lot, Dennis!

Let us keep exploring new ground!

Gabi Greve said...

Some German friends are theoretizing about the BIG problems ...

> > der eine denkt drueber nach,
> > der andere tuts ...

some people think about it
some people live it...


Anonymous said...

sound of one hand clapping?

a friend told me
it was fingers against palm -
which i quite liked.

my own
impermanant solution
is this..

my monkey hand
claps endlessness -
sound of silence

(one day
i will get it right -
one day..)

Anonymous said...

behaving as if
he were Bodhisattva,
but with shriveled ears


Black-Nosed Buddha (koan)

A nun who was searching for enlightenment made a statue of Buddha and covered it with gold leaf. Wherever she went she carried this golden Buddha with her.

Years passed and, still carrying her Buddha, the nun came to live in a small temple in a country where there were many Buddhas, each one with its own particular shrine.

The nun wished to burn incense before her golden Buddha. Not liking the idea of the perfume straying to the others, she devised a funnel through which the smoke would ascend only to her statue. This blackened the nose of the golden Buddha, making it especially ugly.

The lesson: empty your ego


Anonymous said...


by Ken Jones

I have a small green book into which I enter any published haiku which I feel will be deeply sustaining and inspiring in truly hard times. And at such times I take down this book and it does its work well. As to my own work, at my best I write haiku (and haibun) to live, rather than live to write haiku. Nevertheless, only a few of my own poems would qualify for the little green book.

My concern here is to investigate what it is about some haiku that makes them existentially liberative. Existential here refers to the human condition, or rather the human predicament, in which we struggle to evade what we don't want and are constantly frustrated in our pursuit of what we do want. Liberative denotes here at least some release from the root anxiety and sense of lack from which the human animal characteristically suffers. In other words, existentially liberative haiku convey some spiritual insight and release. And the writing and reading of them offers a spiritual practice. Many such haiku have a Zen Buddhist flavour, and haiku have been included as one of the several Ways of Zen practice. I have earlier written about Zen and the Art of Haiku (1), in a companion essay to this one. Here I am concerned with an inclusive and perennial Beginner path・spirituality that breathes no word of spirituality.

Let us now return to existentially liberative haiku. First, there are a comparatively small proportion whose purpose is as explicit as it can be without being obtrusively didactic and crossing the border into religious poetry. Here are two Zen examples from Natsume Soseki and Basho respectively. The first is a play on a well known koan and the second refers to the law of karma.

What is your
Original Nature

The whitebait
opens its black eyes
in the Net of the Law

more in the LINK below.

Anonymous said...

Chunag Tsu

The Legge translation of the complete Chuang Tzu (Zhuangzi) updated.


Anonymous said...

the slow flow of sand
changes evrything

Anonymous said...

sand flowing too fast
makes letters disappear

Gabi Greve - Facebook said...

Thomas Carnacki made this koan to go:

One morning, the monks found a crab in the stone garden, climbing a rock.

When the first monk asked the crab whence it came, the crab answered : "behold, I have crossed the seas and I am not wet".

When the second monk asked the crab what he was doing, the crab answered "behold, I have climbed Shumi-sen (Mt Meru), and it is lower than the surrounding walls".

When the third monk came, he had to shoo away a crow, who wanted to steal the crab. The crab thanked the monk and said : "However far you go, the path is fraught with peril".

The Abbot, informed by the monks, hastened to the garden and bowed low in front of the crab, and just said "I salute you, enlightened one".

He turned to the perplexed monks and told the first one : "you were taught that the true nature of things is not apparent. In this garden, the sea is not wet".

Turning to the second, he explained : " you were taught that each teaching of the Dharma opens new vistas, there are always higher achievements to undertake".

To the third monk he just added : "and you were taught a vital truth : Samsara will not release easily even an advanced practitioner".

But the dried crab spoke no more, for he had passed away.
Photo on facebook

Gabi Greve said...

Beyond true and false
Buddhist philosophy is full of contradictions.
Now modern logic is learning why that might be a good thing
by Graham Priest
to read online
3700 words well worth the effort !!

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

shaba 娑婆 / しゃば / シャバ this world of Samsara
shaba sekai 娑婆世界

Shaba and Jodo 娑婆と浄土 the Defiled World and the Pure Land
samsara - the cycle of suffering in this world