Monday, November 18, 2013

three monks

 
Three monks sat by a river, deep in meditation. One stood up and said, “I’ve forgotten my mat.” Stepping on to the waters before him, he walked across to the other side, where their small hut stood in the forest. When he returned, the second monk said, “I just remembered I haven’t dried my washed clothes.” He too, strode calmly across the water to the other bank and returned in a few minutes the same way.

The third monk watched them intently. Figuring that this was a test of his own skills, he loudly declared, “So you think your abilities are superior to mine! Watch me!” and scurried to the edge of the river bank. No sooner did he put his foot in than he fell into deep water. Unfazed, he waded out and tried again. And again and again, to no avail. 


After watching this performance in silence, one of his fellow monks asked the other, “Do you suppose we should tell him where the stepping stones are?”

I'm very fond of Zen stories. If you've heard this one before I hope you'll excuse me for telling it again.

16 comments:

marja-leena said...

This is another delightful zen story, Susan. I don't recall it but it is always worth retelling and rereading, especially when illustrated by your delicate watercolours. There is gentle humour in this tale.

Sean Jeating said...

Chuckling . . . still . . . on and on and . . .

susan said...

Zen has koans which are designed to arrest thinking and little stories like these that do the opposite. I'm sure it will be easy for you to guess which ones I prefer :)

These little pictures are fun to do, and being a bit sloppy, are quick as well.

susan said...

I laughed out loud the first time I heard it.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan
Lots of food for thought- combining the two maybe our ego carried us along too much or soon , when uncommon common sense should prevail. Nice illustrations to go with them.
Surfing dogs was a treat – dogs can take to the water like ducks- but only with the help of little human technology!
Best wishes

Tom said...

I love the way these little stories put life into perspective; a kick in the backside of one's pride never comes amiss.
Mmmmmm! Lovely story; lovely artwork. You're a treasure, Susan.

Rob-bear said...

The story is told of a congregation which got a new preacher, who was a woman. This was particularly challenging, because they had no Idea of what to expect. Now, some of the "old boys" did a lot of fishing, and always took the preacher along with them. After much consideration, they though they would stick with the tradition, even if the preacher was a woman. So they got out on the lake and were ready to start, when the good woman said, "Oh dear, I forgot my worms." The boys were not happy with the prospect of going back to shore and starting all over. "I'll be back in a moment" said the preacher. She hopped out of the boat walked across the top of the water, retrieved her worms, and came back.

Next day, the town was alive with gossip: the new preacher can't swim.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

okjimm said...

ohohoh... I liked that! thought provoking and amusing at the same time. Course, it would have been funnier if it had been three Irish priests do'n worry..I am working on an adaptation as i type. I liked Rob-bears story,too. and it does remind me of another zen story......

One day two potatos, who were best friends, were walking together down the street. They stepped off the curb and a speeding car came around the corner and ran one of them over.

The uninjured potato called 911 and helped his injured friend as best he was able. The injured potato was taken to emergency at the hospital and rushed into surgery.

After a long and agonizing wait, the doctor finally appeared. He told the uninjured potato, "I have good news, and I have bad news. The good news is that your friend is going to pull through."

"The bad news is that he's going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life".

................ so I lied about it being a zen story. I still think it has a peel.

susan said...

Hi Lindsay
You're certainly right about the uncommon commonality of common sense :) and yes too that egos are sneaky creatures, raising their voices when least expected. I'm glad you liked the pictures.

Many dogs do love to swim and these dogs appeared to be very well cared for.
Best wishes to you too.

susan said...

When we lived in New England I spent a number of happy evenings with a Sufi group in NY. Teaching stories told there were very special too.

Thanks so much for your kind words, Tom.

susan said...

That was a great story, Rob. There are always going to be critics :)

susan said...

Hah! I'll look forward to your version. Meanwhile you might enjoy a little Father Ted.

Oh dear. As Frank Zappa once said, 'Call any vegetable and the chances are good, the vegetable will respond to you'.

okjimm said...

ha...father ted? gees, I was raised catholic.... been short ever since. I am more a gassy kind of guy'''''

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Veu-Cm7aHMw

susan said...

Yep, Saskatchewan is pretty flat and boring. This is what they do for fun.

Ol'Buzzard said...

I also like zen stories - your art illuminates this one - once you know where the stepping stones are.
the Ol'Buzzard

gfid said...

:0)