goose in a bottle

i recently stumbled again upon the old zen riddle of the goose in the bottle:

a long time ago a man kept a goose in a bottle. it grew larger & larger until it could not get out. the man did not want to break the bottle, nor wish to hurt the goose; how would you get it out?

if you’re unfamiliar with koans, as you can see above, they deal with an impossible impasse, where you must make a decision which will lead to no good end. one of the characters or objects is usually imprisoned or dangling from their teeth & should they answer the question inevitably posed to them while they teeter between dangle & mashed limbs, they will plunge to a messy end. no doubt in this koan we are the goose & the bottle is either our illusions or neuroses getting the better of us. managing to answer in a way that zings in your head  lightens you, it is a little bit of satori, not all satori, but enough for things to aum.

i am writing this as i recall reading it years ago in d.t suzuki’s essays on zen & though entertaining it for as long as my undeveloped mind could i never came up with a satisfying answer, but i did come up with one the other day.

more than this i was curious how people respond to this riddle, can you be as zen as possible & give a satorical answer, or like me will you have to let it foment for nearly a decade? send me your answers to satisfy my curiosity, please.







Posted by:danielpaulmarshall

After living in Korea for shy a decade, I find myself back in England, penalized for my turned back, awaiting a move to Exeter, where I will study an MA in English, with focus on environmental studies. These days I am reading inveterately, owing to my no longer living without the means to buy books & books & books. My reading interest lie in contemporary philosophy, ecology, ecological philosophy, object orientated ontology & speculative realism. These ideas are leaching into my poetry & essays.

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