Sunday, September 9, 2012

Not Zen 22: The River

A traveling scholar hiked along a dusty road on a hot, summer day. He drank heavily from his canteen. When he reached a bridge across a stream, he stopped. He tied his bags tighter and scrambled down the slope. In the shade beneath the bridge, he filled his canteen.

He rested for a few minutes. Then he rose and decided he had to relieve himself before going on. He hesitated when he saw a man approach the river from the opposite bank. The fellow appeared to be a farmhand dressed in ragged clothes. He descended to the water with a practiced gait that hardly disturbed a blade of grass.

The farmhand nodded acknowledgement to the traveler. Without hesitation or apology, he undid his pants and proceeded to take care of his bodily functions. The scholar smiled with relief and joined in. The two of them stood on opposite banks for a long moment.

The scholar broke the silence.

"You can't pee in the same river twice," he said, chuckling at his own cleverness.

The farmhand narrowed his eyes. He seemed to think about the point for a minute.

"Everyone pees in the same river," he replied.

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