the huatou, ‘dust beats tables’

dust beats tables

A huatou is a short phrase which embodies an insight into the Dharma. The Dharma is ‘The way of the Buddha’, but here we are obviously not using it in that sense. It is used in the whimsical sense of ‘The way of the Rod’. However it is not entirely whimsical.

Longer versions are called koan (from the japanese) or gongan (from the chinese).

In the correct use of gongan or huatou one should not seek an intellectual understanding, philosophical ideas or verbal insight but rather an intuitive apprehension of heart-felt meaning. It is similar to the appreciation of a poem. The result is felt more than thought.

‘zen’ is the japanese transliteration of the chinese ‘chan’, which is in turn derived from the sanskrit ‘dyana’…

Here is a traditional chan huatou:

‘In this red hunk of meat, there is a person of no rank who goes in and out the gates of the face. Who is that person?’

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