The Best Place to Be - A Zen Story
A new disciple asked his widely travelled Zen master, "You have been to many places in the world. Which is the best place in the summer? Which is the best place during monsoon? Which is the best place to go during the winter?"
Story: There was once a Zen master who had travelled to many parts of the world. One day he went out walking and a new disciple joined him.
Suddenly it started pouring. The disciple immediately broke a huge leaf from a nearby banana plant and held it over his head. He asked his master, "You have been to many places in the world. Which is the best place in the summer? Which is the best place during monsoon? Which is the best place to go during the winter?"
The master kept walking in the rain and said, "If you really want to be in the best place, you must go to the place where there is no summer, rain or winter!"
"Have you been there?"
"Will you tell me where it is?"
"You find out and go!" said the master and walked on without breaking his stride.
"If I stand upside down now, blood will rush to my head and you will notice my face will turn red. But when I stand on my feet, my feet do not turn red. Can you explain why?"
Before she could bat her eyelids, the boy replied, "Because your feet ain’t empty."
This disciple who asked questions to his Zen master knew life only to the extent that this schoolboy knew the human body. What is the best place to be during summer? A place which is cold will look like the best. In winter, a place which gets maximum sunshine will look like the best place to take a holiday. This is the kind of mindset that the disciple is revealing about himself by asking these questions. However, the master is reminding him, "This is not your life."
The master was telling him, "Your life is about getting to that place where there is no summer, monsoon or winter." The journey he is talking about is not a place that you can find on a geographical map. He is just indicating that his journey should go beyond the physical boundaries. When you go beyond the limitations of the body, where can there be winter or summer? Can the winter or the winds touch the depths of your interiority? Cold and heat can touch only the surface of your skin. This is not about thinking which place would make the best vacation spot because even if you go there, only the body will be comfortable, but there will be discomfort with everything else. From where you are right now, you can make your interiority in such a way that the external situations cannot touch you in any way.
Editor’s Note: Click here to learn why the Zen master made tea for his lazy disciple!