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51 Zen Stories: Muddy Road

The question in the image embedded above is one of the more common stumbling blocks on the path of kindness, and yet, the answer to it is not sought after as much as it should be, partly because of the misconception, “It’s only me.”

Watch your thoughts, they become your actions.


Instead, it is the nature of the action, not the action itself, that is determined by the thought. And the nature of the action, in turn, determines the aftermath, which subsequently determines how the population perceives it.

This explains the conundrum that was set forth at the outset of this article. Here’s one for the pragmatists: Consider, for instance, the cases of a soldier and a mercenary. Fundamentally, their actions are the same, but the mere difference in their thoughts sets them apart.

The conjecture propounded above follows, to a great extent, the same line of thought as a renowned zen koan based in 20th century Japan, which is as follows:

Muddy Road

Hara Tanzan and Ekido Zenji were two of the most prominent zen masters of the 20th century. Although they were different idealogically- Tanzan was forbearing while Ekido was as rigorous as it got- both got along well with each other.

Once, while walking along a road muddied by a concurrent rain, they bumped into a girl- young, lovely and well-turned-out. She was standing idle, looking apprehensively towards the muddy road; her dilemma was as clear as day.

‘Come on, girl,‘ said Tanzan at once and carried her across the mud, subsequently parting ways. Ekido had already surpassed his personal best of holding in when they reached the lodging temple later that night. ‘We monks don’t go near females,’ he blurted out, ‘especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?’

‘I left the girl there,’ said Tanzan. ‘Are you still carrying her?’


One thought on “51 Zen Stories: Muddy Road

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  1. A heartful thanks by our side (Me and ChandraShekher) to everyone for the patience. It proved to be more difficult than expected to manage this website alongside everything but this time, we’ll keep this running.

    ChandraShekher will be back soon as well. Until then, lets cherish Zen.

    Liked by 1 person

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