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The Pot On The Table

This one is a well known Zen story.

One day one teacher decided to throw a puzzle at his students. When everyone assembled in the lunch room, he took a clay pot and kept in on the table in front of everyone.

“Without using any of the attribute such as color, material, shape, describe to me what is that on the table.” He challenged.

Nobody spoke for a while.

One student demanded more clarification.

“Simply tell me what it is without using any of it’s name.” Said the teacher.

At that point the cook came forward. He pushed the pot from the table. The pot fell on the ground and broke into pieces.

“It was what it is not any more.” Said the cook.

It is so true for so many things in our life. We recognize their existence, their importance only when they are gone. Because human mind is very good in grasping sensation, but not so good in noticing harmony. We can understand things only relative to the change they undergo. We fail to understand those things that are always with us.

When I dig deeper into this, I can see why Alan Watts , in his book “The way of Zen”, says Not only ear makes sound, but sound makes ear too.” Because we have ear, we know that there is something called sound. So ear makes sound. But if there was no sound, we would never know we have an organ called ear that is capable of hearing something called sound. So in a way, collectively, the sounds make ear.

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