Home-Grown Gongans are written by either my teacher,  Andre Taesan Halow, or myself. They aren't "official" gongans--they're not from the Blue Cliff record or any of the other recognized collections. You may find them enjoyable, annoying, funny, thought-producing, or no-thought producing.

Case 1: Buddha is Hungry

The Master ascended the rostrum, and asked the assembly, “What did Buddha have for breakfast?!? Answer quickly!”
The monks sat in stunned silence, then slowly started to answer:
“Mangoes,” “Rice porridge,” “bananas,” “Don't know.”
The Master said, “Oh, Buddha is still very hungry!”
Finally one monk answered, “Weetabix!”
The Master nearly fell over.

  1. “Buddha is still very hungry,” what does this mean?

  2. Why did the Master fall over?

  3. What did Buddha have for breakfast?


Case 2: Empty Sky

One day, a new monk came to the temple. When meeting the Abbott, he bowed to him and said nothing. The Abbott asked the monk, “What is your name, and why are you here?”
The monk identified himself as “空的天空 (Kōng de tiānkōng--Empty Sky). I am here to learn the Buddhadharma.”
The Abbott laughed and said, “Where does air end and sky begin? If you learn that, you have learned the Buddhadharma.”
The monk bowed, turned around and left the temple, muttering, “This stupid old man has nothing.”

  1. Why did the monk leave?

  2. Your name is Empty Sky. Is the sky empty or is your mind empty?

  3. How would you answer the Abbott’s final question?

Empty Sky.jpg