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Another Koan thread... Jeez...
Im sorry but I didn't want to hijack NormaD Buddha's thread so I wanted to start my own. The koan I have been stumped with is this:
A student asked Master Yun-Men, "Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?" Without hesitation, the master answered, "Mount Sumeru!" Why did the master answer, "Mount Sumeru!"?
I gave several answers to my former teacher and they were all wrong. Although right before I left he said I was getting closer to the answer. Now when I saw seeker242 post this I thought I got it.
It seems to me that this is the kind of Koan that any answer will do but only if you understand the answer first. So the particular answer is not important but the clear delivery of the answer is what is important. A good teacher can intuitively tell if you understand it or not, regardless of what answer you give.
If you understand the answer, I think you could correctly respond by saying "I have to take a shit!" or "You have a bald head!" or some other nonsense like that. Some require a very specific answer, this is not one of those I don' think. But then again, I could be wrong.
But then I remembered a few things my teacher would tell me when I was answering him. He'd say "answer mostly using only the words in the koan". Or he'd say "think about the answer Master Yun-men gave, then think about the question asked". I once asked a specific question. Will I know the answer to the students question (Not even a thought has arisen; is there still a sin or not?) when I know why Master Yun-men answered that way? and he said YES. I feel like I know why Master Yun-men answered that way but how does that translates into "I have to take a shit!"? And I still don't know "if a thought arises, is there still a sin?". Any help?