Dissemination of Wisdom

By Joseph Caulfield

I was reading the New Testament and came across "Whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that he hath." [Matt. XIII, 12.]

I immediately recalled the Zen koan, "If you have a walking stick, I shall give you one. If you do not have one, I shall take it away." The purpose of this koan, among other things, is to get the student to break free from the belief that mere "proximity" is "identity." In other words, in this koan, the mere proximity of "walking stick," to "one," does not imply an identity even though because of an idiosyncracy of the human mind, we want to find such an identity and, consequently, find one. "Walking stick" is not necessarily the same as "one." Once the student realizes this, the koan takes on a completely different meaning. Then, the student is forced to consider what this "one," is, and to understand that it is something quite different from what one can grasp as a crutch.

Considering that Budhism had a five-hundred year jump on Christianity, and considering the location of the ancient trade routes, one would expect to see such cross-pollenization from a comparative religion focus.