top of page
  • Writer's pictureTony Holden

‘Geese and bottles’

We often watch TV documentaries where experts comment on some visual object. It’s not as easy to show people communicating their enjoyment or criticism of some particular book. I have my store of selected quotations but sometimes one comes unbidden. This one has stayed with me over decades-

“Consider a live goose in a bottle. How to get it out without hurting the goose or breaking the bottle? The answer is simple - there, it's out [Christmas Humphreys ‘Zen Buddhism 1949/ 1957].” – So, what do I make of it – and what do you make of it?

[1] The words cause us to go beyond simply accepting and taking for granted what’s going on and how things are - they offer a clue about how, through imagination, we can develop strategies for significant change.

[2] The words bring out our inner-resources and encourage us to engage with commitment - they suggest digging deep is key.

[3] The words are about the importance of problem-solving - but they also remind us of options and alternatives to our complex lives.

[4] The words, as so many texts and sayings from so many sources, nourish and illuminate our lives - whether we read books or e-books and the like we truly are into [what Barbara’s career knew as] life-long learning.

[5] So, what do you reckon of the text “Consider a live goose in a bottle?”

[6] And do have a look at the new drawings: “Without going outside, you may know the whole world [Lao Tsu ‘Tao Te Ching’ 47].”

34 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 Comment

Dennis Richards
Dennis Richards
Oct 09, 2022

It's a brilliant koan showing the power of the mind. We put the goose in the bottle by "considering" it. We can just add easily get it out the bottle by considering it out. How many prisons are of our own making?

bottom of page