Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mindfulness, Cat Food and Coffee.

A senior teacher at a temple is teaching the monks when an earthquake hits. The teacher calmly gathers the panicking students and takes them to the kitchen, which is the strongest room in the building. When the earthquake stops, the teacher has a drink and says to the class: "Here you see the benefit of Zen training. While you students panicked, I was able to act logically and even enjoy a glass of water afterwards."

Student: "Teacher, that would be a convincing example except for the fact that you're drinking soy sauce!

I love this story. The above joke reminds me of one of my favorite Nonin stories involving mindfulness, cat food and the coffee grinder. During one retreat at the Nebraska Zen Center, Nonin was speaking about how such a wonderfully mindful and adept Zen teacher he is. He began to talk about how he came down to the kitchen of the temple to make his morning coffee. He was very tired and looking forward to a little caffeine pick-me-up. He likes fresh coffee so he poured his coffee beans into the grinder and turned it on. After a few moments he realized that he was not grinding beans. He had put cat food into his coffee grinder! Even Zen Masters have their moments.

What Nonin taught us more than anything was to laugh at ourselves and noone is exempt from being un-mindful, even Zen Masters. He noted he tried to recycle the cat food but Lola (the cat) didn't care much for the coffee flavor.

One more story for you to have a little laugh and think about:

A monk is walking back from a lecture at a distant temple and gets lost on the wrong side of the river. He needs to get across to get home but cannot find the bridge. Finally, he sees the Master who gave the lecture on the other side and yells out to him.
"Master, how do I get to the other side of the river."
The master replies: "Novice; you are on the other side of the river!"

Hands palm to palm


  1. Greeting...from the other side of the river. I've enjoyed your recent zen posts!

  2. Arigato, Morales-Santo Domingo-san.

  3. Swordsmanship untested in battle is like the art of swimming mastered on land.

  4. Thanks again for sharing Shinzen, once again my timing for catching up on your awesome posts is just exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  5. Hi Steph...Thank you for your kind words.