The old zen master, Zergho, was getting older. He had headed the Zen monastery for many years.
Recently, he had been thinking about how he would pick a replacement for himself.
Zergho had three students in mind, from who he thought that he would choose his successor from.
He came up with a test for them.
Zergho gave each one of these three senior students a dog.
The first student loved his dog, lavishing it with his time, feeding it the best of foods that he could obtain for it, and taking it along with him, wherever he went. It even spent the night with him in his room.
As a result of this, he spent less time now on his Zen studies, and on his meditation.
“There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself. To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that. Just be. Let your true nature emerge. Don’t disturb your mind with seeking”
Nisargadatta Maharaj, (1897 to 1981 ), the great Indian Hindu spiritual guru said this.
Now, the second student did not spend much time with his dog, but he did take time to at least attend to the basic necessities of his looking after the animal in his care. He took it for walks, fed it well, and made sure that it was in good health, by taking it to the local vet, for a check-up too.
At the same time though, he never neglected his duties in the monastery, sweeping the grounds clean of leaves, and litter every day too. He also spent his usual amount of time meditating, and studying the Zen philosophy, trying to fathom the classic works, that previous masters had written, and left behind in the library room of that old monastery.
The third student thought right out of the box. He gave his dog away to a young girl who lived down the road, who he knew of, and whose pet dog had died just a week, or so, back.
The young girl was frilled to receive this dog, as it just happened to be the same breed of dog as her previous one had been.
This student then was freed of any responsibility with his dog, and he renewed his studies and meditation practices with extra zeal, knowing that he had done a good thing for both the dog, and its new owner.
“Whosoever loves much, performs much, can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well.”
Vincent van Gogh, (1853 to 1890), the great Dutch artist, said this.
The master chooses all three, but the three choose the master, only when they see his true purpose for them in what he asks of them.
Only the third student had realised the true purpose of this request of his master, as the master had known about this girl, and her lost dog too.
The master appointed this third student then as his successor, as the new Zen master, in this old monastery.
The photos used in this article were freely obtained from the free media site: pixabay.com.