On 12/8/06, Timothy Hunt
A Koan has the buddha nature, if and only if it contains a stack whose
total pip value is the same as the number of letters in the colour of
the top-most pyramid in that stack.
That rule is legal, but poorly defined. As you point out, the phrasing
allows for some potential ambiguity. An unambiguous phrasing would
have been "...the same as the number of letters in the official name of
the colour..." (or the official English-language name if there's more
I refer to the official name because there's also potential
ambiguity, for instance, whether the CYAN pieces are CYAN, TEAL, LIGHT
BLUE, or some other name, which would have a different result.
reason the rule is legal is that the Master wasn't going to change
languages depending on which player was looking at a koan. Regardless
of time, location, or any other outside factor, the Master of that game
would mark any given koan the same way. Thus, it's possible for the
students to determine the rule.
Another way of looking at this is that a student who doesn't
know English can still figure the rule out. It will be an exceedingly
difficult rule for them, but they can figure it out. The rule is, "A
koan has the Buddha nature iff it contains a stack whose total pip
count is determined by the color of the top-most pyramid according to
the following: BLUE = 4, RED = 3, YELLOW = 6, GREEN = 5"
Notice that my rule is the same as the rule proposed, assuming
the Master was referring to the official English names of the standard
A lot of people have trouble stating rules
unambiguously. This is ok as long as they, as Masters, can interpret
the rule without ambiguity. This is for the same reason that a guess
is correct if it cannot be disproven even if it's not stated the same
way as the rule the Master was thinking of.
Do you see how this is different than a rule which refers to, a piece pointing North, or a piece placed by John?