A Strange Dialogue.

The wind whispered gently through the trees, carrying along it knowledge of time immemorial. In the temple, Pho was working. His master had set him out to arrange the sand garden, and he was sweating from concentration. Such it was for all the monks in the Zen school, toiling away at the maintaining of the Tao. Pho, however; was not a monk, he was but a gardener, and talented in the art of arranging the sand in the rock garden. It was only through his work, where he found peace. Meditation and contemplation of the divine the suffering of others drew him not. He was a simple man, the kind who, when sitting, truly sat. Or when walking, he just walked. And when gardening, he just worked, as was his natural pleasure. Though, he never wobbled, nor strayed from his first thought. Always he was at peace and certain. But he was but a gardener, and the other monks took no notice of him, for they could not see through their own contempt. The master knew much differently however, and watched Pho closely; with the attention of a tiger, and the furled brow of a god, with a glint of a joke in his eye. His beard swung fiercely in the wind as he observed Pho in his work. He suspected something... but knew, to avoid embarrassing the other monks, he must create a koan. So he set out to do so.


The master was getting very old, and was soon to die. All the monks in the temple whispered among themselves, guessing who would be the successor, hoping for themselves to achieve attainment. They were not with the Tao. Pho continued his work every day, talking to the monks in a friendly way, talking of the master; and working silently and marvelously. To decide the successor to the master-ship of the school, the master called all his thirty monks to the garden. Pho continued working, untroubled by their presence, though now watching simultaneously, for he was interested to see which of the monks would be chosen... and which would not. The master sat, in absolute confidence, washing his gaze over the students as though his eyes were wrought from the depths of the ocean. In a clean, strong voice he said.


"I am to die tomorrow." Some monks exclaimed, some wept. Pho smiled at the master's wisdom.

"We must see which of you is with Satori, so that he may succeed me in passing. Bring today all the people from the city, all the men women and children, for the Tao knows not of the illusions of men. I will choose thereafter." The monks set to work, sending letters, and going into the city to gather the people. A great crowd soon gathered, women and children, men young and old. All wished to attain Buddha-hood. Pho watched, standing in the center of the rock garden; while the crowd dared not step onto the sacred pattern. Pho chuckled to himself at their supposed piety. The master stood in on top of the largest rock in the garden and called all to attention through his impressive silence. Soon nothing could be heard but the occasional wail of a small child, the wind in the trees, and the birds that sang in them. Pho stood, still in the center of the garden, in awe of the master.


The master drew a small golden object from his pocket. A coin, which he was very fond of, and was always seen tossing it idly. He held it up for all to see, smiling mischievously, and asked


"What is it?"

The monks looked to each other, brows frowned in deep thinking, trying hard to find a right answer. The head monk piped up.

"It is the divinity of opposites!" The master laughed, a sound clear and gentle as a stream, and threw the coin at the monk.

"That's what it is! I see perhaps there will be no successor. I will pass, and you will all go home." The master locked eyes with Pho, awaiting action. Pho, picked up a small rock, and threw it square at the master. The master moved out of its path with the ease of wind. Again he laughed like a child, this time his joy was joined by Pho's rumbling laugh.


Pho cried, amidst tears of laughter, "There it is!" And he was enlightened.

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