Zen Anarchy


And nothing is fixed! The famous master Hyakujo wanted to find an abbot for a monastery. He put a pitcher on the floor and asked what it was, adding, “Don’t say it’s a pitcher.” Some of the smarter monks came up with smart things to say. Then Isan the cook came up and kicked it over, breaking it. Bingo! Isan got to be abbot. The moral of this story: The urge to destroy a pitcher is a creative urge also.

Which doesn’t mean that we can achieve an awakened mind if we kick over a pitcher every time we see one. It’s been done!

Commenting on this famous koan, Shibayama says that the “natural and free working flowing out of true Zen spirituality” should never be confused with “unusual or eccentric behavior with a stink of Zen.” (287) Isn’t this true of all behavior that “reeks of anarchy.” How free from arche is it really? Is it free from the arche of reactive rebellion? Is it free from the arche of egoistic accumulation? Is it free from the arche of self-righteousness?The real problem is not how to kick over a pitcher, but how to tear down that deceptive pitcher of the ego.

Source: Zen Anarchy | The Anarchist Library

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