Is dead or alive?

vivo ou morto?

Zen story: Dead or Alive? 

The master Dogo and his disciple Zangen attending a funeral. They were preparing the altar, the candles, the incense on the coffin, when suddenly Zangen hit the coffin and asked the master:

“It is dead or alive?”
“I can not say it” – said Dogo master.
Zangen then threatened him:
“If you do not answer me, master, I’ll hit you.”
The disciple was strong and the old master, very kind, was nice.
“I agree, Zangen! Beats me. But, anyway, dead or alive, I can not say. ”


This koan (zen story) has being with me while visiting the land of the Mayans and Aztecs with its pyramids and ancient customs.

After all, the pre-Hispanic cultures are alive or dead?

A ruin can be a dead city, but it has another life that arises in this space. It is very much alive, full of people who come to visit, working in maintenance or sell crafts. Also a more subtle part remains present, we can admire the astronomical knowledge of the Maya and its constructive knowledge.

If we look at the numbers, we know that a large number of Indians died with arrival of the Spanish. But if we see the local populationthe traces show their presence.

Also aspects of culture and religion remain alive. Near San Cristobal de las Casa, the pueblos de Chamula and Zicacandan has its churches re-converted to their spiritual practices. In Chamula, healers bring chickens and eggs for their ritual. Interestingly, in the churches remains the Catholic saints. In Zinacantan they are dressed like people from the village.

Birth, life and death, endless process of an individual or a culture.

Is dead or alive? How do we live this question? The fear of death, suffering death. But what dies? What lives?

Here I leave the question.


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