Where Are You Going?

aerial photo of city street and buildings
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Do you know who you are,
why you are going where,
what you are going there for, 
how you will get there, and when?

— Stonepeace | Get Books

Zen teachers train their young pupils to express themselves. Two Zen temples each had a child protégé. One child, going to obtain vegetables each morning, would meet the other on the way. “Where are you going?” asked the one. “I am going wherever my feet go,” the other responded. This reply puzzled the first child who went to his teacher for help. “Tomorrow morning,” the teacher told him, “when you meet that little fellow, ask him the same question. He will give you the same answer, and then you ask him: ‘Suppose you have no feet, then where are you going?’ That will fix him.”

The children met again the following morning. “Where are you going?” asked the first child. “I am going wherever the wind blows,” answered the other. This again nonplussed the youngster, who took his defeat to his teacher. “Ask him where he is going if there is no wind,” suggested the teacher. The next day the children met a third time. “Where are you going?” asked the first child. “I am going to the market to buy vegetables,” the other replied.

TDEditor: We always go where our feet go, though we always choose where our feet go too. This first reply was thus meaningful yet meaningless, a reply yet a non-reply. We do not always choose to go with the flow, where the wind blows, unless the wind blows where we want to go, or that we are forced by it to go where we do not want to go. This second reply was thus still ambiguous, even if somewhat right. Only the third reply was straightforwardly right. The first two replies were puzzling only when too much effort was spent trying to make sense of what was not so sensible, as if they were profoundly mysterious, what more to outsmart them, which is even less sensible… while the third reply was so simply clear that there was simply no way to outsmart it with a retort.

Zen Flesh, Zen Bones
Paul Reps

1 Comment

  • Some thoughts from the story:
    1st time: Where the child go are lead by his Karma.
    2nd time: He is able to guide his Karma to where he thinks is right for him.
    3rd time: The child will go to where to fulfill his task.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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