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All rabbits are ducks seen from behind at twilight Barry Magid February 3rd 2018

In Zen we often find answers in the midst of questions. Here the monk asks a question about the original state of the mind, clear and pure. For this koan to have any relevance to us, perhaps we could translate it as the monk asking: My mind is filled with thoughts and feelings, how can I make it clean and pure? There is an assumed dichotomy between some clear pure state and thoughts and feelings and mountains and rivers. Originally, however, purity is never found apart from the contents of our minds and lives. Like the duck-rabbit illusion, the two perspectives are composed of the same line. What does it take to see that?

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The Book of Equanimity, Case 100 Roya's Mountains and Rivers

A monk asked Kaku Osho, "The original state is clean and pure. Why do mountains and rivers suddenly appear?"
And the master replied, "The original state is clean and pure. Why do mountains and rivers suddenly appear?"

Barry Magid The Duck Farmer and the Rabbit

Once, there lived a man on a duck farm. He had for himself a good, comfortable, simple life, with a partner and children. And he was happy. But as he grew older he felt something was missing. He wanted to see something different. So he set out to find a rabbit.

He wandered far and wide. In the course of his quest he encountered great difficulty and hardship. And so he developed courage and endurance. And he encountered the suffering and the pain of others and so he learned empathy and compassion. And in his travels he learned all about other languages and cultures and people. But in all his journeying he never saw a rabbit.

Finally, years and years later, at the end of his life, he returned home. And there on his doorstep sat a rabbit.

He died not long after, happy to once have seen a rabbit. And yet, he never realized, that, like all rabbits, it was just a duck, seen from behind at twilight.

Duck Rabbit illusion illustration courtesy of Katy Ewing

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