FPG Friday: A Koan and its Message – Anoja Seeks the Self

by beanalreasa

On Friday, I sat by the plug in the dining hall, waiting for my iPhone battery to charge.

To pass the time while I waited, I continued to read the Kindle sample from The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, as compiled and edited by Zenshin Florence Caplow and Reigetsu Susan Moon.

‘Anoja Seeks the Self’ is the second koan discussed in the sample.  It is listed as being from India, 6th Century, BCE.

The gist of the koan, as I interpreted it:

Anoja seeks Buddha, after her husband, the king, Mahakappina, has left her and all of the kingdom to her, to seek Buddha.

Anoja thought to herself, ‘Surely, Buddha’s message, is not just for men.  I will go seek him.’

When she arrived, she heard the Buddha’s message, and she and her retinue sought and became the first of the four levels of Buddhist realization (‘stream-enterers’).

Meanwhile, Buddha had turned her husband invisible, and then,  Buddha asked Anoja:

 Do you seek the king (your husband) or do you seek the nature of the self?

Without hesitation, Anoja answered that she chose to seek the nature of her self.

Anoja knew that self-knowledge is a richer treasure, and more precious than any other in the kingdom.

More precious than any in the universe, in fact.


Upon reading this koan, several thoughts occurred to me, and suddenly gelled into a coherent whole that hinged upon the concepts related specifically to the word, precious.