Monday, November 21, 2005

My Favorite Zen Story

(I'm not a Buddhist. I'm not even a Zen Buddhist. But, because nothing else blogworthy has happened this week, I will repeat my favorite Zen story.)

A friend of mine gave me a copy of the book Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. The first part of the book is a collection of cute little Zen stories. The rest of the book gets weirder and weirder, and I've never liked it much. But here is the story:

"No Water, No Moon."
When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail
Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break
Until at last the bottom fell out.
No more water in the pail!
No more moon in the water!

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