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Zen Koan and Art by Ara Sensei

New Year “Zen Koan” Resolutions, for the Year of the Tiger, 2010!

Reverend Ara Ryokan is Bishop of Tendai Betsuin Temple, Honolulu, Hawaii. His art is renowned world wide. He has published many books of Buddhist images, Zen humor, and wise sayings. Here is a selection of aphorisms, from his latest book of Zen humor. Each saying is accompanied by a sketch of two aging monks, telling Koan to each other.

[singlepic id=12 w=320 h=240 float=right]1. What is the greatest strength of all? To admit our weakness.

2. What is the greatest hell of all? An ocean of fire? A mountain of needles?  No, it is the hell of inner loneliness.

3. Whether busy or free, there is not one day in this short life of ours not filled with the joy of being alive.

4. There is no shame in “I haven’t finished it yet.”  Shame comes from saying “I didn’t do it.”

5. To lean on others makes one hated. To be leaned on makes us despised.

6. Wind, rain, storms, lightning, can’t do without them.

[singlepic id=11 w=320 h=240 float=right]7. I say “I do it for a living.”  “ So,” you say, “Why do you work so hard?”

8. Water makes a boat float; water makes a boat sink.

9. Seeds planted bear fruit. Think happy, hardship disappears.

10. Misfortune, and great blessing come from little things.

11. “No talent” really means “not enough hard work.”

12. We offer all sorts of reasons, but it all comes down to one thing. (#11)

13. Twisted mind makes a twisted body; honest mind stands straight!

14. What makes a child? To have no talents that parents hope for, but gifts the parents never understand.

15.People treated as ”Useful” turn into foolish human beings.

16. “I had to do it” makes me feel sad; “I chose to do it” makes me happy.

17. “I can take it or leave it,” means a big heart, with real strength.

18. “Do it because others do,” loses.  “Let’s work with one mind” succeeds.

19. Nothing lasts forever; happiness, sadness, sorrow, joy, good health, sickness all will pass!

20. How come we remember insults and injuries, but forget good times and good things!

Five paintings of Ara  Sensei’s paintings made in Muogao Caves, Dunhuang, Gobi Desert.

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