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The Master koan

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This one is regarded as an important koan in one of the three schools of Japanese buddhism, Rinzai, which is the Japanese line of the Chinese Linji school of Chan. It is based on the story of the Chinese monk Zuigan, who devised a method of sitting in meditation and carrying a dialog with himself which led him to self-understanding. The koan is known as Shujinko, or "Master," and goes as follows:


Zuigan was sitting alone in meditation on a rock.

"Shujinko," he called to himself.

"Yes, yes," he answered.

"Shujinko. Be warned against the deception of others around you. Aren't you doing something that will cause them to talk behind your back?"

And then he abruptly said, "Shujinko. Were you dozing just now?"

"No, I was not," was his reply.

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