Zen Koans Explained: "Learning to Be Silent"

If a toad sits in the sun, why does he do it? "To be warm," you might say. But have you asked the toad? It's possible that you have, but not probable.

The koan: "Learning to Be Silent"

The pupils of the Tendai school used to study meditation before Zen entered Japan. Four of them who were intimate friends promised one another to observe seven days of silence.

On the first day all were silent. Their meditation had begun auspiciously, but when night came and the oil lamps were growing dim one of the pupils could not help exclaiming to a servant: "Fix those lamps."

The second pupil was surprised to hear th first one talk. "We are not supposed to say a word," he remarked.

"You two are stupid. Why did you talk?" asked the third.

"I am the only one who has not talked," concluded the fourth pupil.

The enlightenment: The fifth pupil, who did not talk, has been completely forgotten.

This has been "Zen Koans Explained." The toad said.

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