Monday, November 21, 2005

A Zen Koan

It was the weight of his reputation that carried him so lightly that he forgot to press his gratitude on the earth. His saffron was sparkling clean and many disciples followed as well as walked ahead of him ensuring that no pebble trip his confident gait. He held his gaze straight ahead and refused to turn his attention towards any of those who sought his blessing and grace; sometimes to gather sufficient protection for a new born and sometimes as a semblance of divine approval.
The stretch was long and the sun was harsh. Some disciples carried the head monk and some fanned him. Some kept a flask of the freshest water for him while a few wondered how the sun could be so disrespectful.
The glow from under the tree was unusual and caught even the strict attention of the head monk.
"What lies under the tree?"
"Let me go check out, master. If it is dangerous, then let it harm me rather than your exalted being", cried a disciple.
The head monk gave him half a nod.
Off ran the disciple and reached the tree. He returned in a few moments.
"Master, it is a mad man who holds a flame in his hand. He doesn't deserve your grace. Shall we proceed on our way?"
The head monk kept looking at the blaze under the tree and asked his disciples to lead him there. When he reached the tree he saw a young man in tattered garb seated quietly under the tree with a wild fire hissing and crackling on his palm.
"Who are you? Why do you carry a flame on your palm?"
"My name is Kasei and I love this flame on my hand."
"You are verily a fool who doesn't realise that it will take but a few blinks of an eye before that fire will consume you."
The mad man smiled.
The head monk ordered his disciples to take him away from the spot. Later in the evening when the troupe was returning to the monastery, the head monk was curious about the fate of the mad man and decided to pay him a visit.
He spotted the blaze, now wilder. They reached the spot to watch the madman burning in that fire, with an arm outstretched.
The head monk shook his head and covered his mouth.
"See? Didn't I tell you that it will consume you?"
"It's a pity you will never know the delight in being consumed."
The head monk stepped down from his car and bowed low.

7 comments:

  1. Lovely! I wonder if it would be more appropriate to call this a 'A Zen Story' instead of 'A Zen Koan'... But then again, what's in a name? :)
    From a purely language point of view, this line
    "It was the weight of his reputation that carried him so lightly that he forgot to press his gratitude on the earth."
    is simply delightful!

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  2. that was really spiritual. something philosophical. at the first stance, i thought that it is oen of those stories from the Legend of Buddha. great ending.

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  3. that was really spiritual. something philosophical. at the first stance, i thought that it is oen of those stories from the Legend of Buddha. great ending.

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  4. Parvati7:06 PM

    @eroteme: I agree with Meera about the first sentence - you have indeed managed a complicated combination of several ideas such as the Head Monk's widely honoured reputation, from which he benefits by leading a pamapered life, and which always keeps his feet off the ground, and so too gratitude from off his mind. A strange set of words is "press his gratitude on the earth" - you are talking about his gratitude, but the moment "earth" is spoken of, all of us automatically connect to the immense patience of Earth and how we owe her our gratitude, for her bearing our weight thus from ever and anon. But again, though it is hurting the Earth when we step on her, when the monk doesnt walk on earth, he is not doing a favour to Earth but a disfavor in not using her and thus not showing his gratitude. Hope I am not hopelessly blathering...

    I dont know how exactly it happens, but in this post too, somehow everything fits with each other with an ease and a very keen and intricate intelligence working on the whole story.

    Aaaah! The photograph! How could something be this perfect for the content of the post?!

    Amazing and delightful indeed.

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  5. Dear Sundar,
    Glad you found it so... :-)

    Dear Meera,
    :-) Koan is a parable of sorts. Glad you liked that one.

    Dear Amrita,
    Glad you liked it... :-)

    Dear Parvati,
    You have grasped that sentence's meaning very well. I am truly happy to find the import as intended. The picture was a rare find; something that wanted to be part of this post and let itself be found... :-)

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  6. Parvati10:56 PM

    I would like to add to my comment the following, as I think that it is in an indirect way appropriate to the post's content:

    "In the hour of God cleanse your soul of all self-deceit and hypocrisy and vain self-flattering that you may look straight into your spirit and hear that which summons it...Being pure cast aside all fear; for the hour is often terrible, a fire and a whirlwind and a tempest, a treading of the winepress of the wrath of God; but he who can stand up in it on the truth of his purpose is he who shall stand; even though he fall he shall rise again; even though he seem to pass on the wings of the wind, he shall return.

    Nor let worldly prudence whisper too closely in your ear; for it is the hour of the unexpected."

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