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What EXACTLY is Zen?

Roshi Kapleau agreed to educate a group of psychoanalysts about Zen. After being introduced to the group by the director of the analytic institute, the Roshi quietly sat down upon a cushion placed on the floor.


A student entered, prostrated before the master, and then seated himself on another cushion a few feet away, facing his teacher. “What is Zen?” the student asked. The Roshi produced a banana, peeled it, and started eating. “Is that all? Can’t you show me anything else?” the student said. “Come closer, please,” the master replied. T


The student moved in and the Roshi waved the remaining portion of the banana before the student’s face. The student prostrated, and left.


A second student rose to address the audience. “Do you all understand?” When there was no response, the student added, “You have just witnessed a first-rate demonstration of Zen. Are there any questions?”


After a long silence, someone spoke up. “Roshi, I am not satisfied with your demonstration. You have shown us something that I am not sure I understand. It must be possible to TELL us what Zen is.”


“If you must insist on words,” the Roshi replied, “then Zen is an elephant copulating with a flea.”

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