A Dung Stick

A monk asked Unmon, "What is Buddha?" Unmon answered, "A dung-wiping stick."

All Zen students strive to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha. All look up to Buddha as an ideal - that which is pure and clean, perfect, most honored, the highest. They try to overcome evil, death, humanity, and ordinary life to become such a Buddha. So Unmon, with one blow, tries to destroy this conceptual Buddha by ironically comparing it to the dung-wiping stick used by common people in China in the same way as the corncob was used in early rural America. Buddha is not like God; Buddha is a person who awakens to himself and lives that self as it is.


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