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a Zen story for a hot day

Here's a Zen story for a hot day. This one is about Dogen, the founder of the Soto school of Zen and one of the most important figures in Japanese religious history. He went to China to learn about Buddhism and Zen (they called it Ch'an over there), and after wandering around met an old monk on a hot day...

It was summer, and very hot. There was a very old monk there working, drying mushrooms. Old and frail as he was, he was spreading the mushrooms out in the sun. Master Dogen saw him and asked him, "Why are you working? You are an old monk and a superior of the temple. You should get younger people to do this work. It is not necessary for you to work. Besides, it is extremely hot today. Do that another day." Master Dogen was young then. The old monk's answer was most interesting and has become famous in the history of Soto Zen. It was a satori for Master Dogen. The monk said to him, "You have come from Japan, young man, you are intelligent and you understand Buddhism, but you do not understand the essence of Zen. If I do not do this, if I do not work here and now, who could understand? I am not you, I am not others. Others are not me. So others cannot have the experience. If I don't work, if I do not have this experience here and now, I cannot understand. If a young monk helped me to do the work, if I were to stand by and watch him, then I could not have the experience of drying these mushrooms. If I said, ``Do this, do that. Put them here or there,'' I could not have the experience. I could not understand the act that is here and now. "I am not others and others are not me." Master Dogen was startled, and he suddenly understood.

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