Are you awake?

Are you awake - Photo.jpg
[Photo Copyright by blackyuuki via Flickr under Creative Commons Licence]

Normally, Zen stories are somewhere between confusing and rather annoying to me. Annoying, mostly when they come along the lines of: >Enlightenment is toilet paper at the drugstore!<.
However, every now and then I come across something I find just awesome. This following little story can be found from different sources, the most common one made its way into the Zen classics as case 12 of the Mumonkan. It stars Master Zuigan Shigen (chin. Ruiyan Shiyan, China 830-900) and goes like this:

Every single day Master Ruiyan sat in his quarters calling out: “Master of the house!” and then answering himself, “Yes!” He would then call out, “Are you wide awake?” and answer, “Yes.” Then he would call out again, “DON’T GET FOOLED!” And again answer, “Yes, yes.”

Asking yourself to not get fooled is hilarious enough, but what I find even more genius is to turn to yourself on a daily basis and seriously asking yourself: >Are you wide awake?<
Have you ever tried it?
I personally find the feeling quite uncomfortable. I always feel in my talkative mind that the obvious answer should be a clear >Yes<. However, at the same time I have the constant nagging and quite disturbing feeling that the more honest answer should be >No<.

This is what drives a man to medittion.

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