Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Zen 64: The Best Way

A young man traveling alone stopped at a temple to ask for directions. An attendant there gave him the information he needed. Before the traveler turned to leave, he asked, “And what's the best way?”

The attendant understood that this was a different question. He tapped the floor. When the traveler did not seem to understand, he said, “This way is best.”

The traveler left unhappy, having interpreted the answer as conceit for the temple. As he walked, he grew more and more impatient with the tapping of the hallway floor. He met a woman walking up the long hill road toward the temple and asked her the same question.

"Can you show me the best way?"

The woman smiled and tapped the ground with her foot. Then she continued on her way. The traveler felt this, under the circumstances, was a bit better.

Farther on, he happened to meet an elderly man who was apparently coming back from town.

"Can you show me the best path?" he said.

This man happened to work in the temple. He had lived in the area for a long time, tending to the monks and to the people of the town. He recognized that the traveler had been to the temple and had probably asked others the same question.

"Continue on this road," he said.

The young man was not satisfied.

"Continue on this road into town," said the old fellow. He gestured to the road behind him. "Turn left and walk another block. There you will find a bank. Stand in front of the bank and meditate. The answer will come."

Curious, the traveler did as he was told. He walked into town and found the bank, an impressive building with rich ornaments and a false brick front. There he stood, studying the building until he grew tired. When he could stand no longer, he sat. A bank guard came out and accosted him.

"Hey you!" he said. “Get out of here.”

“And the best way is?”

“To get moving!”

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