A koan isn’t a riddle, with a single correct answer (“What’s black and white and red all over?”) but rather a subject for mediation and reflection that has no definable endpoint (“What is the sound of one hand clapping?”).

Both questions posed on Ishmael’s poster are “reasonable” questions—neither is particularly “Leaver” or “Taker.” There is no correct “solution” to the riddle; rather, as one tests yes and no answers to each question, one is compelled to think more deeply about what it means to belong to the community of life.

In other words, this isn’t something we’re going to answer and be done with; this is something we’re going to be thinking about for as long as we live.

ID: 53
Posted: 07 Feb 1997