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Zen Buddhism

What was the small village pond like before Zen?

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November 28, 2008 3:05PM

"Before Zen? How can the small village pond be before or after Zen?" the novice asked the old man. And there was humility and kindness in the tenor of his voice. The words of the question vibrated around the Zendo in quiet echoes, causing the candles to flicker. The old man listened to his koan become the novice's question. He watched his own memories come into his mind, and saw himself in the young man's confusion. He watched his own thoughts as his mind wondered if there might be a helpful way to answer the young man's question. He watched his own thoughts until his mind had finally yielded, and his thoughts had drifted away. "Rice and goat cheese for dinner tonight," the old man finally said. Somewhere in the distance a dog barked. Within the old man, a tiny pebble fell into the surface of a small pond. This caused the pond to gently stir and ripple. The ripples quickly subsided, and the surface of the small pond became completely still once again. Someshere in the distance a dog barked. Within the young man, a heavy boulder fell into the surface of a small pond, and the young man fought to calm the waves, instead creating a tumult. "Why do people keep barking dogs?" the young man asked, his voice suddenly animated, sounding the alarm of his unfulfilled desire to find the secrets of attaining inner peace. ... ... ... "What was the small village pond like before the barking dog?" the old man finally asked with utmost calm. ... ... ... ... After a very long time the novice stood. He looked at the old man and saw himself sitting there peacefully. The room was exceedingly still. ... After a few minutes, the young man pressed his palms together, chest high, and bowed. . The old man bowed in return. . "Namaste," the old man whispered quietly. . "Namaste." the young man whispered just as quietly. ... .. . The candles flickered. A dog barked. ... Later, water boiled and softened rice. ... .. .