Katsu - Koan


Katsu !! - Koan and Daruma

CLICK for enlargement !

In the belly of Daruma san are mikuji sacred lots.
Take one home for good luck !

source : Koakuma at Ise Shrine


A koan is a riddle of sorts, put to a student of Zen by his master.
There are many ways to tackle these problems, so I will show you some stories about the use of KATSU, also written KWATS 喝, as a means to help wake up the sleeping mind.

For the practical study of Zen, you must pass the barriers set up by the masters of Zen. The attainment of this mysterious illumination means cutting off the workings of the ordinary mind completely. If you have not done this and passed the barrier, you are a phantom among the undergrowth and weeds. Now what is this barrier? It is simply "Mu", the Barrier of the Gate of Zen and this is why it is called "The Gateless Barrier of the Zen Sect."

The following illustration shows the Chinese character MU 無, written with many small MU to make one big MU. MU is maybe the most wellknown koan.


CLICK for more MU                 


Master Mumon 無門禅師
Mumon was born in 1183, towards the end of the Sung Dynasty, 960-1279. He went to see Getsurin, the seventh successor of Yogi, at Manjuji Temple. Getsurin, who was famous for his severity, gave him the koan of Mu to study. After six years, Mumon had still not solved his problem.....(text cut)
The next day, when Mumon went to his interview with Getsurin, he wanted to tell him about his vision, but Getsurin asked him, "Where did you see the god? Where did you see the Devil?" Mumon said "Kwatz!" Getsurin said "Kwatz!" and they kwatzed each other, ad infinitum, more or less.....

Mind is Buddha
This is a famous story about a KATSU that even shocked the great warlord Oda Nobunaga.

"Mind is Buddha" is the phrase for one who wants medicine while he has no disease. "No Mind, No Buddha" is given to those who have been cured of disease but still cling to medicine. A monk asked Baso, "Why do you teach that Mind is Buddha?" Baso replied, "To stop a baby's crying." The monk asked, " What is it like when the baby stops crying?" Baso answered, "No Mind, no Buddha."

In connection with "Mind is Buddha,"there is an interesting story in Nanbanji Kohai-ki (History of Nanbanji):

In the 16th century, a great religious debate was held at Nanbanji between Buddhists and a Portugese Catholic Father who was much favored by Oda Nobunaga, an influential feudal lord of that time. The Portugese Priest was a man of wide erudition and was familiar with the Buddhist Sutras. Representatives of various Buddhist schools were all debated down by his eloquence. Finally Zen Master In of Nanzenji in Kyoto was selected as the last debater. The Portugese Priest asked, "What is Buddha?" "Mind is Buddha" answered Master In. The Portugese Father now unsheathed a dagger, thrust it at Master In's chest, and demanded, "What is 'Mind is Buddha'?" Master In, not perturbed in the least, shouted: "KWATZ!"

The Portugese Priest fell into a swoon in spite of himself and the audience including Lord Nobunaga, all paled.
― from Zenkei Shibayama, Zen Comments on the Mumonkan (1974), p. 225


Calligraphy by Nantenbo
. Nantenboo 南天棒 Nantenbo (1839 - 1925) .

KATSU and therapeutic hitting by Rinzai Zenji
The master would not hesitate to strike the disciple physically to resolve the koan. Such resolution once had the monk slapping the master, Obaku, and yelling: "There is not, after all, much in the Buddhism of Obaku." Rinzai explains this idea of 'therapeutic hitting': "Many students are not free from the entanglement of objective things. I treat them right at the spot. If their trouble is due to grasping hands, I strike them there. If their trouble comes from their mouths, it is there I strike." Rinzai was also famous for shouting Katsu!, a nonsensical word, as an answer to koans.

A Modern MU interpretation
The correct answer to the classic trick question "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?". Assuming that you have no wife or you have never beaten your wife, the answer "yes" is wrong because it implies that you used to beat your wife and then stopped, but "no" is worse because it suggests that you have one and are still beating her. According to various Discordians and Douglas Hofstadter the correct answer is usually "MU", a Japanese word alleged to mean "Your question cannot be answered because it depends on incorrect assumptions".
by www.sra.co.jp/


source : store.shopping.yahoo.co.jp/garandou


Nakamaura sensei is probably the best-known scholar of Buddhism.

The Non-Logical Character of Zen: By Hajime Nakamura

Talking about Nakamura sensei, here is one more book I would like to introduce, if you are seriously interested in the comparative studies of Buddhism and its development in various Asian countries.
Nakamura, Hajime:
The Ways of Thinking of Eastern Peoples


- source : googeling for 喝 達磨 -

yaru ki Daruma やる気達磨 in Mie


Master Gempo and the Silent Kwats
On this HP you can meet the wonderful Master Gempo and his way to live KATSU.
Please take the time and read the full article about Gempo Roshi. I am sure you will find something new and refreshing for your daily zazen practise.
"I often read from the Rinzai Roku and many of you may think, "What is the significance of all those Kwatz?" A Kwatz is not necessarily a shout. There are silent Kwatz, smiling Kwatz, drinking Kwatz. Gempo Roshi was a master of all these. "
... www.daibosatsu.org

To Kwats or not to Kwats!
A master demanded of his disciple:"Show me the Ultimate!"
"KWATZ!" responded the disciple.
The master shook his head.
"KWATZ!!!" the disciple tried again.
The master replied,
"Even if you Kwatz! for countless eons, you still won't get IT!"


Checking about KATSU I also ended up in some restaurants called Daruma selling cutlet (pronounced "katsu" in Japanese) and food items.

tonkatsu 豚カツ cutlet from pork

Hamburger Cotelettes KATSU Daruma Food
合格祈願エビカツバーガー to pass examinations

Kushikatsu Daruma ... 串カツ『だるま』
Restaurant in Osaka. Kushiyaki Food


Yahata Kumano Shrine,
Ichinokura, Tajimi-shi, Gifu

- source : Aoi on facebook -


The sound of KATSU can be written with other Chinese characters too. Here is one more KATSU 勝, meaning to WIN, which we have found on the belly of Daruma dolls too. This store sells merchandise to Win.

Katsu Coaster


When Daruma san is in the KATSU mode, as we might put it in modern speach, he stretches out his right arm, fist clenched holding his rosary, which is falling back on the arm with the force of the movement. The beard sometimes too seems to be standing on edge and the facial expression is full attention.

A large and very imposing Japanese lacquered hardwood carving of the seated Daruma with his clenched fist outstretched to repel demons. The body and head are carved as one, the outstretched arm is carved separately and attached to the main carving. The surface of the piece is covered with a lacquer finish. The effect is extremely strong, lively, and full of character.

There is also a clay bell with a KATSU Daruma with outstretched fist.

clay bell with KATSU Daruma from:
. Ninomiya Jinja 二宮神社 Shrine Ninomiya .
Kobe, Hyogo


Now let us look at some Daruma of this kind in my collection.


My very own story about KATSU needs a German-English speaking person with a computer and a pet.

My Cat Haiku Kun

what does it take
to enlighten a mouse ?
a good KATZ !

what does it take
to write online haiku ?
a good mouse !

KOAN and Haiku (01) .. 公案と俳句
KOAN and Haiku (02) .. Dreams 夢
KOAN and Haiku (03) .. Original face and Immortality


Jibun ni Katsu 自分に勝つ ! to win against yourself

source : s.webry.info

Daruma gives an interview after seeing a blue dragon in China:


Daruma Museum


1 comment:

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

Koan and Fudo Myo-O 公案と不動明王