THE KANSHIKETSU

Rev. Shundo Aoyama relates (in her book Zen Seeds): “The Zen term kanshiketsu literally means ‘shit-stick.’ In China, a monk calling on Zen Master Yun-men asked, ‘What is a buddha?’ Yun-men replied, ‘A dried shit-stick.’ When the abbot or any of the teachers is away from a temple for a week or so, the novices think nothing of it. But if there were no toilet paper, they would quickly feel its absence! Shit-sticks, which were used in former days for the same purpose, could be washed and re-used any number of times. Shit-sticks become dirty to clean us. If these are not buddhas, what is? Out of gratitude for them, I recognize the shit-stick as a buddha.”