Sunday, September 26, 2021

What's the spiritual point of this teaching story?

This anecdote is included in the Song dynasty
Zen collection, Congrong Lu (The Book of Serenity,
case 91), and is a story of the well known Chinese
Zen master Nanquan Puyuan (J. Nansen) and a
visiting government official.
An English translation by Thomas Cleary is reproduced here:
Lu Gen of the Tang dynasty was styled
Jingshan: he was a man of Wu prefecture. In
his official career he reached the post of
inspector of Shexuan, and also was a member
of the supreme court. He first asked Nanquan,
“I’ve raised a goose in a bottle, and it
gradually grew too big to get out; now, without
damaging the bottle or injuring the goose, how
would you get it out?”
Nanquan called to him, “Sir!”
Lu Gen responded, “Yes?”
Nanquan said, “It’s out.”
Lu Gen was awakened at this.


  1. Awakenings upon belief in a sign(s) given is The Kingdom of God born spiritually from something above which is Greater. This Lu Gen believed the demonstration given and was conferred eyes through faith as Gospel Testifies.

  2. Lu Gen was lost in a dream.
    Nanquan woke him up: Sir!
    Lu Gen had devised a story to test Nanquan. From the nature of the story, it’s clear that Lu Gen had thought about it for some time.
    But, even though the goose represents Lu Gen’s mind, it remains a only story – just more discursive thinking.
    Nanquan cut through Lu Gen’s thinking: Sir!
    This brought Lu Gen into the very real moment at hand with Nanquan: Yes?
    Nanquan simply observed that, at that very moment, Lu Gen’s “goose” was free from the bottle of discursive thought: It’s out!
    In the Zen tradition, your question “what’s the spiritual point” is similar to Lu Gen’s question about the goose. I hope you can find a teacher to help you *realize* the spiritual point in your gut.


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