i remember, many years ago,
asking a zen master
some questions
about the Lotus Sutra
(an official document
of the self-proclaimed
'great vehicle').

sternly, he responded
by saying, "you americans
ask so many questions--
always asking 'why? why? why?'"

if i were to speak with him
today, i would like to
remind him that zen masters
also ask questions;
questions such as: "who am i?"
and "what is the sound
of one hand clapping?"

these questions are called
'koans' or 'kung-ans,'
and are considered
subjects of meditation.

perhaps the question "why?"
is an american koan;
and perhaps the zen master
could simply have answered
by saying, "why not?".
and perhaps it is irrelevant,
for that was then, and
this is now (and not zen).

© 1999 by Metta Jon Maslow

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