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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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"There's an old Zen story that I like very much: A monk comes to the monastery of the storied Master Zhaozho.  Diligent and serious, the monk asks for instruction, hoping for some esoteric teaching, some deep Buddhist wisdom, or, at the very least, a colorful response that will spur him on in his practice.  Instead the master asks him, 'Have you had your breakfast yet?'  The monk says that he has.  'Then wash your bowls,' the master replies.  This is the only instruction he is willing to offer.

Although the Zen master's response might seem gruff, odd, and cryptic, it actually makes a fundamental point.  Zhaozho wants to bring the monk back to the immediate present.  'Dont look for some profound Zen instruction here,' he seems to be saying.  'Open your eyes.  Just be present with the actual stuff of your ordinary, everyday life' - in this case, washing bowls."

--Norman Fischer (from the article, "Wash Your Bowls," published in The Sun magazine, June 2005)