Thursday, May 01, 2008

Everything Zen

Zen master Flex awoke early that morning to walk his duck Roy before breakfast. Just after clearing his dishes, a young disciple delivered the message that a wanderer was in the courtyard seeking an audience with the master.

"Tell him I will be in the garden tending my peppers."

"Yes, master."


"Yes, master Flex."

"No, just flex."


"No! Flex!" With this, the master began straining and gesticulating his instruction.

The disciple walked away confusedly. He was new.

Shortly, as the Zen master was tending his peppers, a young man arrived and reverently bowed before Flex. Flex said nothing as he continued pruning damaged leaves and the young visitor continued carefully inspecting the dirt before him.

Flex continued to prune. The visitor continued to bow.

Flex finished at one plant and turned towards the visitor. "Well, get up then."

"Yes, great master."

Another awkward pause ensued. Flex began pruning another plant of its dead leaves. The visitor continued standing quietly in calm abeyance. After finishing with several more plants, Flex turned again to notice the visitor standing precisely in the same position and posture as several minutes prior. "Ah still here, eh? Jolly good." he said as he moved around the young man towards the plants behind him.

The next morning when Flex arrived in the garden, he nearly stumbled over the supplicant. "Good gracious man! Have you been bowing there all night?"

"Yes, wise one." he humbly responded.

"Well, get up then. Let's go have some breakfast."

"I have taken a vow of hunger until I gained your audience."

"Well, now you have, you must be starving."

"I humbly thank thee," he said as he proceeded to bow again.

"Enough with the bowing. What is it you want man?"

"I seek to earn shelter here. To learn at the feet of the master. To learn the secrets of the cosmos."

"The master eh? I don't think we have anyone here like that. Maybe you're at the wrong place."

"No. It is here which I seek."

"Hmm. You may be looking for that other temple down the road. Can't miss it. Big spiky things shooting out all over. It's quite impressive.

"I will study here. I am determined. I will do whatever it takes."

"I'm afraid you've got the wrong place chap. We don't have any cosmos secrets anyway. You'd best be moving along."

"I was warned to expect a test. I am ready."

"Oh so it's a test you want? All right then. What's the fundamental particle of matter?"

The stranger paused. "I'm sorry. I don't quite understand."

"Well, come on then. You said you wanted a test and to learn about the secrets of the cosmos, so it doesn't get any more basic."

"I have failed this test then. Tell me what I must do to amend."

"Oh, so you don't know then?"


"Hmm. Well that puts us right out then doesn't it?"

"That was my one chance?"

"I'm afraid so. I was really hoping you knew too. Then we would have some cosmos secrets. Of course that would only encourage folk to visit."

"Then I will sit again at the gate and await forgiveness until I may be allowed to enter."

"Hmm. So you're pretty serious about this eh?"


"Well, come in then. Let's get something to eat."

"I can join you and study here?"

"Sure. If that's what you want. Don't know what you're going to study though, we don't even have any books."

"Ah." the initiate almost chuckled. "The master is wise."

"Master? Oh that's right. I'm master this week."

"I do not understand. This week?"

"Yeah, sure. We switch around every week. Last week I was the latrine scrubber."