Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A koan for modern times

This is from one of David McGowan's older newsletters:
Imagine that you are Jacobo Arbenz in the 1950s, or Fidel Castro in the 1960s, or Joseph Stalin in the 1920s and 1930s, or, skipping ahead, Hugo Chavez in the present day. You're trying to get a fledgling administration off the ground and you've got a big problem: the institutions of your country are littered with assets controlled by Western intelligence agencies.

The CIA, for instance, has moved into town and set up shop under various assumed names to operate an 'opposition' press, which daily agitates against the sitting government with heavy doses of manufactured 'black' propaganda. If you take any action against these operations, you will be vilified via the entire Western media establishment for brutally censoring the opposition press and crushing free speech. If you do nothing, the problem will continue to fester and grow. What do you do?
Now consider this:
Kyogen said, "Zen is like a man up a tall tree hanging from a branch by his teeth. His hands can't grasp a bough, nor his feet reach one. Under the tree a man asks him the meaning of Bodhidharma's coming from the West. If he doesn't answer he fails the questioner. If he does answer he will lose his life. What should he do?"
The similarities are pretty striking, aren't they?