A handful of answers

A handful of answers : A Zen Tale


A young student of Zen was going to the market to buy vegetables for the monastery where he was studying.

On the way he met a student from another monastery.

“Where are you going?” asked the first student.

“Wherever my legs take me,” replied the other.

The first student pondered over the answer as he was sure it had some deep significance.

When he returned to the monastery, he reported the conversation to his teacher, who said: “You should have asked him what he would do if he had no legs.”

The next day the student was thrilled to see the same boy coming towards him.

“Where are you going?” he asked and without waiting for a reply continued, “Wherever your legs take you, I suppose. Well, let me ask you . . .”

“You’re mistaken,” interrupted the other boy. “Today I’m going wherever the wind blows.”

This answer so confused the first boy that he could not think of anything to say.

When he reported the matter to his teacher, the old man said: “You should have asked him what he would do if there were no wind.”

Some days later the student saw the boy in the market again and rushed to confront him, confident that this time he would have the last word.

“Where are you going?” he asked. “Wherever your legs take you or wherever the wind blows? Well, let me ask you . . . . ”

“No, no,” interrupted the boy. “Today I’m going to buy vegetables.”


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