Zen, Names, and I Don’t Know

Kenny asked, “When you call it ‘the unnamable void,’ aren’t you giving it a name?”

Louie Wing said, “Yes, and at the same time, trying to indicate that, ultimately, the myriad names for it fall short of defining it.”

Kenny said, “What do you mean, ‘the myriad names for it’?”

Louie Wing said, “Sometimes it is called mind, sometimes it is called body, sometimes it is called awareness, sometimes perceiving, sometimes feeling, sometimes thinking, sometimes it is called a man, sometimes a woman, sometimes it is called Maurice, sometimes Loretta. The Tao Te Ching says, ‘Names may be used, but are none of them absolute.’ How about you, what would you call it?”

Kenny said, “I don’t know.”

Louie Wing said, “Ah, yes, that is one of the best names.”

~The Flatbed Sutra of Louie Wing

4 thoughts on “Zen, Names, and I Don’t Know”

  1. Hello MyoChi,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Yes, very difficult not to name…

    Yet, it seems to me that naming it may be just fine, as long as we discern the difference between the name and the reality.



  2. I guess that is the biggest challenge that mind faces – not to name it. We are so used to labeling, it is hard to fathom and practice not to label.

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