Apropos. See, Buddha IS shoes to some!
I happened upon this story and loved it. Of course, the Buddha is not really a pair of shoes... or is it?
Buddha is Grass Shoes
From DROPPING ASHES ON THE BUDDHA: The Teachings of Zen Master Seung Sahn. edited by Stephen Mitchell (Grove Press, New York NY, 1976)
One morning after practice, four students were having breakfast with Seung Sahn Soen-sa at the Corner Coffee Shop on East Twenty-First Street in New York City. One student told about an experience which he had had with some followers of the Nichiren sect. "Their mantra, Nam yoho range kyo, seemed to me a quite powerful practice. But when I asked them what it meant, they didn't know and said it wasn't important to know. Is this correct?"
Soen-sa said, "In practice of this kind, correct understanding is not necessary. It doesn't matter whether you know that this mantra is the name of the Lotus Sutra or that Kwanseum Bosal is the name of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara."
Another student said, "I've heard that certain mantras have power inherent in them - that Sanskrit sounds, for example, have some link to the energy of the universe. Does it make a difference which mantra you use?"
Soen-sa said, "Three things are important: first, your reason for doing the mantra; second, strong faith that the mantra works; and third, constant practice."
"So you can chant Coca-Cola all day long and it will work?"
"If someone tells you that the words Coca-Cola have power in them and you really believe that, then Coca-Cola will work for you. There is a good story about this:
"Three hundred years ago in Korea, there was a monk named Sok Du, which means 'Rock Head." He was a very stupid man. The sutras were much too difficult for him, so he decided to study Zen. But sitting Zen was also too difficult. So he only did working Zen, in the kitchen and in the monastery fields. Twice a month the Zen Master would give a Dharma Speech, which would always fill Sok Du with confusion. One day, after the Dharma Speech, he went to the Zen Master and said, 'Master, I'm tired of being so stupid. Isn't there some way I can understand?'
"The Master said, 'You must ask me a good question.'
"Sok Du scratched his head and thought for a few minutes. Then he said, 'Okay. You are always talking about Buddha. What is Buddha?'
"The Master answered, 'Juk shim shi bul,' which means 'Buddha is mind.' But Sok Du misunderstood, and thought that the Master had said,
"'What a difficult kong-an!' Sok Du thought, as he bowed to the Master and left. 'How can Buddha be grass shoes? How will I ever understand?'
"For the next three years, Sok Du puzzled over this great question as he did his working Zen. He never asked the Master to explain; he just kept the question in his mind at all times. Finally, one day three years later, he was carrying a large load of firewood down the hill to the monastery. His foot hit a rock, he lost his balance, the wood fell, and his grass shoes went flying into the air. When they landed on the ground, they were broken, and he had attained enlightenment.
"Sok Du was very happy and very excited, so he went running back to the Zen Master. 'Master, Master, now I understand what Buddha is!'
"The Master looked at him and said, 'Oh? Then what is Buddha?'
"Sok Du took off one shoe and hit the Master on the head.
"The Master said, 'Is this the truth?
"Sok Du said, 'My shoes are all broken!'
"The Master burst out laughing, and Sok Du flushed with joy."
At this, Soen-sa and his students also burst out laughing. Then they returned to their fried eggs and toast.