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Why do you do that?


I have always been fascinated with Oriental Philosophy. I’ve studied it along with the Oriental Martial Arts and took it as an elective in college. The Asians have a little different way of thinking and sometimes their stories force us to think on different levels. A simple Zen story of a few lines might have us thinking for hours, and they tend to stick with us. This one about the teacher and the students riding bicycles has always been one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it.

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the student, saying, “You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path.” The teacher commended the student, “Your eyes are open and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant and meditate.” The teacher gave praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student answered, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings.” The teacher was pleased and said, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, “I am now YOUR student.”

Wouldn’t it be great if we were all that focused on just doing whatever is in front of us at any particular time?