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Zen, the Giggly smile and 42


I have one Japanese friend, who is a sort of an enlightened far away brother to me. Our conversations frequently run like Zen mondos or like a never ending exchange of pleasantries. And, it must be said, I enjoy these kind of talks immensely. When we meet, he usually inquires into my current situation and I try my best to respond with a candid confession by stating the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After hearing my rantings he – as a rule – bursts into a wild laughter and then immediately adds a verbal component to his performance: “Magnus, you need a woman”, he says with a giggly smile on his face. Over the course of our many conversations, he was never weary of repeating this line over and over again: “Magnus, you need a women.” Frankly, I found it quite amusing and I took it more as a joke than a friendly advice. But being familiar with Zen logic, I knew there was much more than what meets the eye or, as in this case, what meets the ear, to be exact. His tricks, his laughters and his out-of-place comments can fool any random sucker on the street but they won’t fool me. So, each time he said that I need a woman, deep down inside I knew that my Japanese friend played the classical Zen game on me. Of course, he denied it – this was expected – and when I expressed my suspicions that his comment had a certain stink of Zen, he denounced my knowledge of Zen and said that I know nothing about it. But, having never solved a koan in my life and having never meditated for more than an hour, I knew better. My friend’s reaction fitted perfectly into the repertoire of savvy Zen duels and Zen verbal attacks. His behavior matched the pattern of the old Zen masters way too good for it to be a coincidence. Only those people who deny it, have it. – an old Zen saying goes. In my mind I had no doubt about it, it was as clear as the sun on a cloudless day. And his denial only intensified my initial belief that he was pulling my leg in the prima-facie Zen style.

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