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You're Still Not Getting It, Alan

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Posted by Aurino Souza on April 4, 2002 14:54:38 UTC


I've seen this story somewhere on the net but I couldn't find it again. I'll tell it from memory, I'm not sure I'll get it right:

A Buddhist master asks his pupil to meditate on the meaning of the famous koan "truth is the sound of one hand clapping". The pupil retires, spends a week in meditation, and comes back to the master. The master asks:

- Have you understood the meaning of the koan?
- Yes Master, I think I did. I think it means that reality is monistic instead of dual.

The master gets upset:

- You idiot! You don't understand a thing! Go back and meditate some more.

The pupil realizes his failure and goes back to meditation. Another week passes and he comes back to the master, feeling a bit afraid:

- Have you understood it now? - asks the master
- Hmm, I think I'm getting close, Master, but I'd like your help. I realize the point of the koan is that truth is paradoxical and can't be fully understood by our conscious mind. Do you think I'm on the right track?

The master gets angry:

- I'm getting tired of you, you are an idiot, you just can't think, I'm starting to believe you are beyond hope. I'll give you another chance, take another week and meditate some more, if you still don't understand it you'll be banished from the monastery.

The poor pupil goes away, and afraid of being expelled spends the next week in 24-hour meditation. His body gets exhausted and he thinks he's starting to lose his mind. Then something amazing happens and he sees something he couldn't see before. He returns to his master, full of confidence. The master asks him:

- Have you understood it now?

The pupil remains silent for several minutes, then replies:

- I think those flowers need water.

The master says:

- You are right, let's give them some.

So think of yourself as the pupil and Dick as your master. And this is not a koan.

Good luck,


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