The Cook – A Zen Koan

After centuries of presiding over the monastery, the zen master passed away. Upon his death, all his pupils, some had been there for their entire lives, convened to discuss who would follow him.  Of course, the question who would become the new zen master, led to a discussion of what qualities make someone a master. Perseverance? Clarity of thought? Enlightenment? For days and days the monks discussed.

At one point, they were sitting at the dinner table. They had been stuck for days now, and desperation slowly made the rounds. While the cook walked in, they said: “Ha, why don’t ask the cook about what makes a zen master?!” They all laughed, and then one turned to the cook and said:” Cook, what makes a zen master?”. They laughed.

NLP broken pot

Upon hearing the question, the cook froze. In his hands, he held the full pot of soup that he made to feed the monks. As their laughter died down, he still stood looking at them. Once they were silent, and without a word coming out of his mouth, he just let go of the pot, and as it fell he turned and walked away. When it lay shattered on the ground, they knew what made a zen master, and the one who would lead them forward.

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