One and two makes?

This post was written by admin on May 6, 2009
Posted Under: teaching stories,Zen story

This is another Zen teaching story. In the olden days itinerant Zen monks would travel between monasteries and when they arrived there they could challenge a monk to a theological debate and of they won, they could stay the night but if they lost, they move have to move on to the next monastery.

There was a monastery which had two brother monks as the sole occupants. One brother was wise, but the other was foolish. Moreover, the foolish brother had only one eye.

One night it was raining hard, real hard…. It was a torrential downpour when a soaked monk knocked on the door. The wise monk wanted to let the poor soaked monk stay the night but under the morality he had he could not cheat and loose the debate so he offered his foolish brother as the debater.

Five minutes later the wet monk returned, bowed and said, “I lost the theological debate and now I must leave for the next monastery.”

The wise monk asked, “Please tell me what happened?”

The other monk replied, “We decided to have a silent debate. As the guest I started and showed him one finger signifying the Buddha. Your brother put up up two fingers telling me that there’s the Buddha and his teachings. So I put up three fingers to show, the Buddha, his teachings, and the congregation. Then your brother in the coup de grass clenched his fist to say that in truth the Buddha, his teachings, and the congregation are one. I knew he had won and so I move on to the next monastery.”

Then the foolish brother entered the room screaming, “Where is he? Where is he? He was so rude, so rude. If he wasn’t a guest, I would have beaten him up.”

The wise brother said, “Calm down. Tell me what happened?”

The one eyed brother replied, “We decided to have a silent debate and then he puts one finger up, meaning that I have only one eye. He was our guest so what could I do. I put up two fingers to say that I see you have two eyes…. But, when he showed me three fingers to say that between the two of us we had three eyes I showed him my fist to say, ‘If you don’t stop talking about eyes, I’ll punch you right in the face!’ and then he bowed and left. He must have understood how rude he had been.”

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