Sunday ka Funda

(From a Zen Fable)

Provided he makes and wins an argument about Buddhism with those who live there, any wandering monk can remain in a Zen temple. If he is defeated, he has to move on.

In a temple in the northern part of Japan two brother monks were dwelling together. The elder one was learned, but the younger one was stupid and had but one eye.

A wandering monk came and asked for lodging, properly challenging them to a debate about the sublime teaching. The elder brother, tired that day from much studying, told the younger one to take his place. "Go and request the dialogue in silence," he cautioned.

So the young monk and the stranger went to the shrine and sat down.

Shortly afterwards the traveler rose and went in to the elder brother and said: "Your young brother is a wonderful fellow. He defeated me."

"Relate the dialogue to me," said the elder one.

"Well," explained the traveler, "first I held up one finger, representing Buddha, the enlightened one. So he held up two fingers, signifying Buddha and his teaching. I held up three fingers, representing Buddha, his teaching, and his followers, living the harmonious life. Then he shook his clenched fist in my face, indicating that all three come from one realization. Thus he won and so I have no right to remain here." With this, the traveler left.

"Where is that fellow?" asked the younger one, running in to his elder brother.

"I understand you won the debate."

"Won nothing. I'm going to beat him up."

"Tell me the subject of the debate," asked the elder one.

"Why, the minute he saw me he held up one finger, insulting me by insinuating that I have only one eye. Since he was a stranger I thought I would be polite to him, so I held up two fingers, congratulating him that he has two eyes. Then the impolite wretch held up three fingers, suggesting that between us we only have three eyes. So I got mad and started to punch him, but he ran out and that ended it!"


  1. This is a wonderful story Farzana to ponder on. In our society, city, state,country and world, all one eyed morons successfully defeating and escaping from the monk of wisdom daily.Delighted to read your post.Hope you are fine.

  2. Jitu:

    Indeed, you have read it with the depth it deserves. I felt much the same when I came across this story.

    I've been okay and hope the same is with you.


  3. Same set of facts, but different interpretations based on different perspectives! As usual, the good guys gets the short end of the stick. (Why does this story somehow remind me of the India-Pakistan imbroglio?!)

  4. This story is insightful as is but leaves out the third monk watching the two exchange the pleasantries from a distance.

  5. Too many monks can spoil the monastery (or wherever monks hang out for tafreeh, so to speak)!

  6. a wonderful story, may I ask where do you procure these monk and zen stories from (presuming these are not your creation) - Thanks for sharing

  7. FV, This one's for you:

    I can see all the way to infinity,
    said the mayfly to the turtle,
    All of reality is all so plain clear,
    one day of joyous buzzing
    followed by one night of whole some rest
    before the universe collapses on itself
    and chews up the spits out the very best

    I can see you lying sedately
    like a rock on the bottom of the pond
    if only you could experience
    the thrill of the life of a mayfly
    starting one moment on a sunny morn
    ending before the hour is done

    I am not one to mock a turtle
    but can you really comprehend
    the thrill of a mayfly's lifetime?
    How could you, sedate and somnolent
    your eyes blinking once a lifetime
    what can you see?

    Can you feel thrill of a spark
    burnt and gone before it is born?
    Can you feel the joy of a lark
    here on a spring morn and then gone?
    You just lie there in the muck
    Silent and stable like the proverbial stone
    what do you know of a mayfly's journ?

  8. Hi FV, forgot to sign off the pome with my "name". This pome's dedicated to you like the previous one. :) Now that I read this again in broad daylight, it reads a bit like Lewis Carroll's "The mock turtle song".


    "will you, won't you, will you won't you, won't you join the dance..."


  9. Hi Al:

    Thank you! You are writing pomes now?? Pardon my ignorance if not. Howsoever, it is beautiful, but I'd like to know if you are suggesting I am the "somnolent turtle"...

    I'd respond with

    My eyes may blink not
    But see I can
    Arrows pierced
    Through the trough
    The crust burns
    And shatters
    The sound is creates
    Is that of a lark.

    This was a quick scribble...shall watch the vid later.

  10. "Thank you! You are writing pomes now?? Pardon my ignorance if not. Howsoever, it is beautiful, but I'd like to know if you are suggesting I am the "somnolent turtle"..."

    Hi FV,

    Pome is the technical term for that I believe (it says so in my "Dummy's Guide to literature and stuff").. and I wouldn't dare suggest you were a turtle, somnolent or otherwise! For one, 'fraid of piercing arrow eyes I am. (and thanks for the quick scribble :))



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