Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Zen (not Maruti Zen) will always remain a mystery.

As the story goes: there was a novice who wanted to know more about Zen and went in search of a master. In due quantity of time, he met one. Sitting beside a tree, he seemed to be meditating. So was the nature around it, oblivious to the master's presence, of course. The novice finally gathered courage and coughed slightly. When the master opened his eyes, he apologized for disturbing his calm, and asked him if he could enlighten him with the tremendous power of Zen art. The master agreed and asked to sit beside him. With eyes closed, he sat there for what may be termed as eternity. The novice could not control his anxiety, and for the very excitement of what may happen next, he patiently waited for those ages.

Nothing seemed to happen. And nothing did: much to the novice's disappointment.

Finally he decided to give up on his particular state of mind, and opened his eyes. Again coughing slightly, he pleaded the master to explain him what exactly was Zen.

And the master answered, "That was Zen."

The story is as mysterious as the Zen itself. I have not quite understood it even upon thinking about it for many times. Every time, I find some different meaning, a different shade of what I thought I had understood the previous time.

Recently, during one of the overnight bus journey, I came across something that may be called a Zen experience (I am not sure although!).

It was a cloudless sky, around midnight, winter was at peak and the temperature at its lowest. As the bus had to take a small diversion from the main high-way, it passed a small lane in an unknown town. With the air slightly misty, the visibility was not 100%. Around 20-30 metres away, I saw a street light. There was hardly and street that led to the light, yet it was switched on. There was hardly any living neighbourhood nearby too. With such backdrop, I found the street light quite amusing. It gave a very sharp cone of light, piercing the darkness with sharp edges. The mist added to the contrast between the dark and the light.

I had seen it just for a split second. The speeding bus took me away from it in the next half of the split second.

The street light was there. Quietly burning, spreading its sharp cone of light for eternity. And as far as me, the viewer was concerned, I knew I had experienced it: only the problem was I could not explain what it was.

Maybe that was a Zen experience. And at the same time, maybe it was not...

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