CASE #44:    On Killing

Gasan instructed his adherents one day: “Those who speak against killing and who desire to spare the lives of all conscious beings are right. It is good to protect even animals and insects. But what about those persons who kill time, what about those who are destroying wealth, and those who destroy political economy? We should not overlook them. Furthermore, what of the one who preaches without enlightenment? He is killing Buddhism.”


Gasan     Gasan Jōseki (1275–1366) was a Japanese Soto Zen master. A disciple of Keizan Jokin, his disciples included the great Rinzai master Bassui Tokushō.

Those who speak against killing     A reference to the first grave precept: Do not kill. “Those who speak against killing” would, therefore, logically include all Buddhists. However, in this case Gasan seems to have been referring to those he believed favored a narrow approach to the precepts.



Often Zen masters are wise. So it’s worth looking at those instances when one falls flat on his face and can’t get up.

Is killing time really the same as killing sentient beings? Is destroying wealth the same as killing a person? Isn’t the importance of political economies so overinflated that we will…well, actually kill living beings to protect them? And killing Buddhism? What kind of Zen master locks the Dharma in a wall safe and hires himself to be the guard?



A simple program
For complicated people…
To become simple!
Are the precepts so unclear
That they need interpreters?


Find all the Green Koans here.

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