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© Nanabozho (Gichi Wabush)

Updated : 1 February 2005

Versione italiana

Light Bulb Sûtra

I- Thus have I heard

On one occasion, the World Honoured One was staying in Rajagriha on the Vulture Peak, with a large following of monks and a great crowd of bodhisattvas. It was getting late, and at that moment, although it was dusk, the Blessed One was being concentrated on that part of the dharmas which is called Profound Enlightenment, which made him glimmer softly in the semi-darkness.

II- At that moment too, the noble Lord Manjushrì, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, from his practice of the Profound Perfection of Wisdom gave a glance ; he saw that the five 100w light bulbs in their proper self were emptiness. Then, through the Buddha's inspiration, the Venerable Bodhideva asked to the Noble Lord Manjushrì, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, «How many good sons and daughters would it take to change a light bulb?» And the Noble Lord Manjushrì, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, answered the Venerable Bodhideva thus:

«Bodhideva, any good son or daughter who would wish to engage in the practice of the changing of a light bulb ought to conceive things as follows: he (or she) ought to see that the light bulb in their proper self are emptiness.

III- In truth, the lightbulb is devoid of inherent existence, there is no changing of the lightbulb, and no-one who changes it, yet through inaction, nothing remains undone. The lightbulb does not intend to shine, nor does the Changer of the Bulb intend to change it.

Bodhideva, to have the goal of changing the bulb ensures that one will never achieve it. Only by non-intention can the goal, which is a non-goal, be achieved. Yet nothing whatsoever is achieved; this is why it is called Supreme Achievement. It is only this: to unscrew one bulb and screw in another. How ordinary! How miraculous! The lightbulb was never extinguished. You are already in a state of light, and have only to realise it --

IV- «It is thus, Bodhideva, that a Bodhisattva and Mahasattva trains for the Profound Perfection of Wisdom.»

Then, the World Honoured One, rose from his concentration and beamed on everyone the beam of his asankhya of watts, and, praising the Noble Lord Manjhusrì, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, he said: «Excellent! Excellent! Well said, well said, O good son! It is truly thus that light bulbs ought to be changed! So it is, O good son, so it is.It is precisely as you have taught that the light bulb should be changed, and all the Thus Come Ones shall rejoice in it».

Then, the Venerable Bodhideva, the Noble Lord Manjhusrì, the Bodhisattva and Mahasattva, and all the beings that were present, including the gods, the human beings, the titans and the gandharvas were delighted and applauded the World Honoured One's words.

The Light Bulb Kôan. (Enlightening fancies)

Q: How many Zen masters does it take to change a light bulb?

- Two. One to change it and one not to change it.

How many REAL Zen Masters?

- Four. One to change it, one not to change it, one to change it and not to change it, and one to neither change it nor not to change it.

How many enlightened Zen masters?

- The light bulb cannot be changed. It is what it is.

How many authentic Zen masters?

- The jewel is in the lotus.

How many perfect Zen masters?

- See! It is already changed!

How many christian or muslim fundamnetalists?

- CHANGE???????

Is it possible to have a rational answer to that question?

No one shall ever know. For a Dharma student, there is always plenty of light, the light bulb is a mere illussion, just as is the fact that the old one burned out, and he has no *desire* to change anything whatsoever.



While all of this is perfectly true, and is reason enough for a Hindu to stop there, the Dharma student will, from a state of compassion which flows from the enunciating of the first of the Four Great Vows, fix the light bulb immediately for the benefit of those that do not enjoy the same perfect view of the universe as himself. Desire or no desire. He'll even go through electric shocks to fix it :-] (well, perhaps not...)

Obviously, in truth, the light bulb is devoid of inherent existence, there is no changing of the light bulb, and there is no one who changes it, and yet, through inaction, nothing remains not done. The light bulb has no intention to shine, nor has the Changer of the Light Bulb any intention to change it. To set oneself the goal of changing the light bulb guarantees that no one will ever change it. It is only through non-intention that the goal, which is a non-gola, may be realized. And yet nothing, absolutely nothing is realized; and this is the reason for calling it Supreme Realization. It is only that: to unscrew a light bulb and screw another one. The answer is one. And quick, so that we may do still more for the benefit of all living beings.

And what's that thing about Hindus? Because, if it were the case, we would never get to know the answer to the question. Indeed, according to Hindus, it's Karma which blew up the bulb, and we ought not to interfere Karma :-)

Other answers:

Are needed:
a: None, since change is inherent to all composed phenomena.
b: Not two.
c. Two. One to change the light bulb, and the other to find some f... up sense to the event.

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused his dentist's Novocaine during root canal work? He wanted to transcend dental medication.


A buddhist shaggy story

"She was an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow, poke-a-butt Dakini."


Q: Did you hear about what happened to that Buddhist who ignored the Fifth Precept and got absolutely, grossly drunk?

A: He fell into a stupa.

And here's a set-piece with some Buddhist bits thrown in!


Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?


FOX MULDER: You saw it cross the road with your own eyes. How many chickens have to cross the road before you believe it?

RICHARD NIXON: The chicken did not cross the road. I repeat, the chicken did *not* cross the road.

PETER DA COSTA: Why do you bother asking such questions in a Buddhist newsgroup? You would be better off in direct email. This would also save the ng from having such pathetic posts.

TOM GOODMAN: To escape from the evil dalai lama supporters who are pursuing it. They intend to sabotage the current Tibetan buddhist order by kidnapping this chicken - who is actually the disguised leader of the prominent Karma Kluckyu religious order in Tibet.

BILL GATES: I have just released the new Chicken Office 2000, which will not only cross roads, but it will lay eggs, file your important documents AND balance your checkbook. Unfortunately, when it divides 3 by 2 it gets 1.4999999999.

OLIVER STONE: The question is not "Why did the chicken cross the road?" But is rather "Who was crossing the road at the ,same time, whom we overlooked in our haste to observe the chicken crossing?"

MAHASANTI: Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa!

(Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened One!)

The chicken crossed the road because she was a bad, aggressive chicken. Instead of remaining on that side of the road to walk behind her honorable consort the rooster, she displayed the deluded thinking typical of chickens and tried to assert her independence. It can only fail. Chickens must always be submissive to roosters who are superior to them in every respect. The Sutra of the Greater Rooster and Lesser Chicken has stated this. I really don't blame chickens for being chickens, I only reveal chickens as different, and unequal to roosters. Should you chickens in TRB attack me for my statements, it is only due to your emotional nature. It has blinded you and force you against pure reason, and against the fact of the differences between roosters and chickens. Chickens are to be pitied for their unstable emotion, and even more for their desire to remain in emotivity.

DARWIN: Chickens, over great periods of time, have been naturally selected in such a way that they are now genetically dispositioned to cross roads.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.: I envision a world where all chickens will be free to cross roads without having their motives called into question.

GRANDPA: In my day, we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Someone told us that the chicken had crossed the road, and that was good enough for us.

MACHIAVELLI: The point is that the chicken crossed the road. Who cares why? The end of crossing the road justifies whatever motive there was.

TANG: Fuck the chicken! Let's get Evelyn!

BOJANGA: Tang is the greatest, Tang is the sexiest, Tang is the best!!! Tang does not need to cross any road in order to prove that he is the greatest amongst all chickens.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die. In the rain.

STEVEN LIGHTFOOT: Because it crossed the road. :-)

BUDDHA: Asking this question denies your own chicken nature.

KATHY: Because the Divine Chicken Mother was on the other side calling out to it.

DHARMATROLL: Asking this question proves without a shadow of a doubt that you are a superstitious fool, a believer in spooks, a vibrationalogist, a coin-flippin' mountebank, a rogue, and a knave. May you be reborn as an oily slug and be trodden on by a retarded chicken. Heh.

COLONEL SANDERS: I missed one?

SPACEJAN: I don't know! I really, really don't know! But that's okay. I am pleased to be amongst the most ignorant on these forums. Everybody tells me that. I don't mind at all.

RICK: A bunch of crap... Stop cross-posting to alt.philosophy.taoism. Please remove a.p.t. from your headers in the future. Buddhist chickens are not welcome in our Taoist coop-house. Go eat shit and die!

Zen for Nerds (exchange on "alt.zen")

Bill Robicheaux:

"Wouldn't it be nice if the for dummies series book publishers came up with books dealing with religion : Buddhism for Dummies, Zen for Dummies"..».


"Ok, I see a black-and-white cover with a line drawing of a dog, its butt parked on the ground, and a large hand reaching in from the border of the book, pointing a finger at the dog, with a balloon quote containing the words, "Sit! Sit! Sit!"  Then, of course, 108 blank pages inside the book.
Does that about sum up American Zen?»


"That's a foul slander on the dog.  He doesn't need to sit.  The dog would be suitable master though, except it would never occur to the dog that anyone would have to learn.  Even so, perhaps the cover should have a dog gesturing at the man with the same balloon quote.

"Yup.  They'd make us sit if they could.  Fortunately, we're smarter than a dog."


"There aren't enough white pages in my book."


"How much vacuity do you need?"

Death of a Zen Master

A contemporary Zen master lay dying on his death bed. His monks had all gathered around his bed, from the most senior to the most novice monk. The senior monk leaned over to ask the dying master if he had any final words of advice for his monks. The old master slowly opened his eyes and in a weak voice whispered. "Tell them Truth is like a river." The senior monk passed this bit of wisdom in turn to the monk next to him, and it circulated around the room. When the words reached the youngest monk he asked, "What does he mean.'Truth is like a river'?"

The question was passed back around the room to the senior monk who leaned over the bed and asked, "Master, what do you mean, 'Truth is like a river'?"

Slowly the master opened his eyes and in a weak voice whispered, "O.K., truth is not like a river."

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