Sunday, October 12, 2008

A moment of Zen with McCain and Obama

From Religion News Service blog:

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Our moment of Zen

bodhidharma_200_01Moderator Tom Brokaw prefaced the last question of last night's presidential debate (offered by "Peggy of New Hampshire") by saying it had a "certain Zen-like quality."

The question was: "What don't you know, and how will you learn it?"

It's not exactly the kind of koan, or Zen question, you'd likely hear in a zendo (Famous koans are: What's the sound of one hand clapping? If a tree falls in a forest...) Generally, the answer to the question is supposed to be inaccessible to the rational mind. One could easily answer Brokaw's question rationally: "I don't know anything about the history of World War II; I will learn it by reading books on the history of WW II."

That aside, it's still an interesting question.

In Zen Buddhism such question-and-answer exchanges between novices and Zen masters are called "dokusans." Let's see how Obama-san and McCain-san fared.

Obama answered: "The nature of the challenges that we're going to face are immense and one of the things that we know about the presidency is that it's never the challenges that you expect. It's the challenges that you don't (expect) that end up consuming most of your time."

In other words, "I don't know what I don't know."

Zen grade: A-

McCain answered: "I think what I don't know is what all of us don't know, and that's what's going to happen both here at home and abroad...There are challenges around the world that are new and different....So what I don't know is what the unexpected will be."

In other words, "I don't know what I don't know."

Zen grade: A-

Both candidates then said what they do know is...(read the rest HERE.)

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