flash fiction

So, this is a koan. For those who don’t know: in the practice of zen, a koan is a puzzle obscura (so coining that) whose correct answer is a response that stumps the other party. The master generally initiates the puzzle and the student is said to have transcended when they can silence the master. It’s not necessarily about logic but, creative and fluid intellect. Outside of that essence, I tried to capture the style of zen koan translations.


Matoichi once asked of a local zen priest,
“Venerable monk, I have had no fire in my life for a long time. Please show me the path of passion. What is it that is the fire of man?”

The priest picked up a bundle of incense and lit it. He held the bundle for three hours, saying not a word until it had completely burned. Matoichi had left and returned three times as the priest performed this mediation. On the third visit, he beckoned, “Venerable monk, what has this meditation accomplished?”

“Matoichi,” the monk smiled, “didn’t you ask me to show you fire?”


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