Basho's Staff

Basho said to his disciple, "When you have a staff, I will give it to you. If you have no staff, I will take it away from you."

The staff, as used by monks, originated in India. When a monk went abroad, he used the staff to chase away snakes and animals and to measure the depth of water when he crossed a stream. A staff is to guide and protect one. So modern man must have a staff. Don't be perplexed by the words. Transcend have and have-not. The koan itself tries to guide students to the place where they can lay hold of the true staff.


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