One of the principles of Zen is that language is counter-productive. By using words to describe things, we automatically categorize them and draw lines in our perception of the world. This is the opposite of opening your mind to the true nature of the world. This is my apology for reducing Zen to a matter of lingual discussion.
I was reading through the Gateless Gate
, and I came across this koan
. For weeks I thought about it, and any interpretation escaped me. One evening though, something clicked, and an idea came to me. If you are interested in one man's ideas on Zen Buddhism
, below are my thoughts on "Blow Out The Candle"
When Tokusan remarks that it is very dark outside, he is observing the state of the world
. He asks for a teacher for a candle to light the way. This can be seen as being symbolic
of his seeking wisdom from the teacher, to light his passage through the world. However, one purpose of Zen
is to obtain a better understanding of the world, of comprehending existence and the true state of things. In asking for light, by demanding wisdom
in the form of words, Tokusan is continuing down his blind path. Ryutan
tries to show Tokusan that he must become like the world, to see as it really is: dark. Therefore, he blows out the candle as he hands it to Tokusan.