A Zen Dialogue That Reveals the Secret of Life – Who brought the water from the well?

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At an ancient monastery, a young disciple brought three pitchers of water from a hand pump well in the early morning instead of just the usual two. The well was at the foot of a steep hill.

As the journey to the monastery was arduous, he was proud of his progress in strength and stamina.

He told his Master, “Master, today I brought three pitchers of water. It’s all there for you to use”.

As he walked away, Master turned around. He recognized the young monk who had joined not long back.

Oh, wait! Don’t go. We need to talk. You must understand.”

The Master gently smiled and pointed him to sit near him. Disciple eagerly sat in anticipation of some praise.

Master asked, “Who brought some water, my dear?”

Disciple delightedly, “Master, I did!”

Master probed further, “How did you bring the water?”

The disciple, with a hint of enthusiasm, “After my early morning rituals, I picked up the three empty pitchers from the kitchen area, went down the hill, and fetched water in those using hand pump.
After that, I picked up those pitchers. Without resting on the way, I carried them straight to the monastery without spilling a drop.”

“And where did those pitchers come from?” the Master asked.

Disciple pointed towards the direction of the kitchen and said, “They were there in the kitchen.

“I mean the origin of those pitchers, where do you think, did they come from?

“Some potter must have made it. But why does it matter? I still brought the water, didn’t I?” the disciple replied, now getting a little irritated with this barrage of questions.

Slow down! For you to bring the water, a potter with some clay made a pitcher. He dried that soft clay of pitcher in the sun. Later, he cooked it on the flame to strengthen the pitcher.”

So what? That is his job. But as far as water is concerned, it was me who went down and filled them with water…”

Master interrupted, “Oh, yes! The water. How did the water reach the well?”

“Master, through the clouds, it rained, and it filled the well and replenished the underground water. But how does it matter?”

If the water were not there, how could you bring the water?”

Disciple, disheartened by listening to this, said, “Are you telling me that the potter, clay, sun, flame, ocean, clouds, rain, brought the water to the monastery, I didn’t?”

Master lovingly replied, “Oh, don’t rule out your action. You said you brought the water. What did You do precisely?”

“I woke up and then…..”

Master again interfered, “Wait, what if you hadn’t woken up today?”

The disciple was stunned, “What?

What would have happened had you not woken up this morning? If one of your body organs failed or you were dead?”

The disciple was shocked. “Master, where are you going with all this? I don’t understand! Of course, if I were dead, I would have been unable to bring the water.”

Wow, you learn fast. So, you already know somehow, you woke up; otherwise, no water. You said you brought the water. Tell me, how did you bring the water? I don’t see you are capable of bringing the water all by yourself.”

Disciple now decided to prove his master wrong. “I woke up and went down the hill…..”

How did you go down the hill?”

Using my legs.”

How these legs worked?” the Master again asked.

I learned to walk when I was a child.”

Master laughed, “Hahahaaadid you contract appropriate muscle so that your legs may move?

I don’t know about contractions and all. I first stand and then put my one foot ahead of the other and walk. I learned as a child.”

Master was determined to reach the right conclusion. “Good, but did you learn how to strain each muscle, did you learn to communicate with the nerve cells?
Are you regulating your heartbeat, are you controlling your breathing, are you regularising all the body functions while walking and sleeping?
By the way, how did you ever become a young man? Did you decide?”

Disciple now firmed up and decided to end this, “Oh! I don’t do all this. It happens all of its own. But the water; that I ordered myself to bring.”

Ok, and how exactly did you order yourself?

“I ordered my body that I have to bring water.”

And how did you order that?”

Disciple, now a little perplexed, “I had a thought that I have to bring the water in three pitchers. I decided, and then, off I went

Did you think that thought?” the Master asked.

Yes, it was my thought, my idea.”

Hahahaaayou decided to think, and it worked? No problem, sit and stare at that tree for one hour without blinking.”

The disciple started looking at the tree.

Master could see the water in the eyes of the disciple after a few minutes, “What happened? Your eyes are watering. Well, decide not to!” A brief period of silence and Master continued, “What happened? Where is your thought to stop the tears? It seems it has no power. Order yourself to stop thinking. Order yourself to stop blinking.”

Disciple, now giving up, “So you are saying, I can’t bring the pitcher of water on my own accord. Do my ideas or thoughts have no power?”

Master clarified, “No one can fetch a pitcher alone. If you understand it deeply, analyze your other actions too. Is there anybody who is controlling all the things? Are you the doer?
You decided to act on a thought, an idea. Did you choose the idea, or did the idea choose you? Was it 
your idea or an idea in the head you accepted?”

Disciple just had an enlightening moment. He understood life. He reverently said, “Now, I understand, Master. Events happen, and the Universe does everything. I am just a medium of life to function. Thoughts or ideas are not mine either.”

Master laughed and said, “Yes, now you got it. Now, go meditate and don’t think it is you who meditates!”

Key Lessons

  1. You are not the doer. Life happens on its own accord. Everything you think you do cannot happen without many components of the Universe coming together to make it happen. You are just a medium of life.
  2. You have the power to choose the thoughts. Without your involvement, thoughts are powerless.
    You can learn to let go of harmful thoughts. You can learn to be a Master of thoughts.
  3. In deep meditation, the meditator vanishes. To go deep into meditationlet go completely, even yourself. In essence, during meditation, you stop existing — Only meditation exists.

Source: https://medium.com/change-your-mind/a-zen-dialogue-that-reveals-the-secret-of-life-7ef9e2db418f

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