Practice on the path: a zen story

I love the absurd stories of zen and sufi lore. I want instant enlightenment, don’t you?  Here’s a story from Larry Shainberg in his book Ambivalent Zen.

He goes to study at a Japanese monastery with Kyudo Roshi:

When I tell Kyudo Roshi that I am studying to become a monk, a look of disbelief crosses his face. Then he explodes with laughter. “You monk? Larry-san a monk?? Ha ha ha!”

Finally he gains control of himself and fixes me with a stare. “No, Larry-san, you not monk. You INSTANT monk! Understand? Instant monk! Listen: I monk, become monk 6 years old. Four years temple, fifteen years monastery. Why you want to monk?”

Embarassed, I tell him I want to “take my practice to a deeper level.”

“Deeper level?” he laughs again. “What you mean deeper?
Zen practice only one level.
No deep, understand?
One level.
Just this.”

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One response to “Practice on the path: a zen story

  1. I think there is always suspicion of westerner’s when we seek to emerge ourselves into another’s custom. Thinking our interest is perhaps shallow. But, I understand Larry’s quest. Spiritual growth is good, helps the he(art) – TMNK