zen dreaming

A few years ago I had the experience of dreaming in Zen! For those unfamiliar with Zen stories, they are often short but insightful tales about experiences that have helped people realize the truth… (I recommend Zen Flesh Zen Bones by Alan Watts, a great collection of Zen stories.)

But I was fortunate enough to bring this one back from the dream world! I saw it from the eyes of the characters and third person simultaneously, but here is my attempt at a written version… Enjoy!

…A travelling zen monk was passing through a city one day, when he was approached by one of the locals seeking his help. There had been a number of deaths in the city by poisoning recently, and the man knew of the particular shopkeeper responsible for supplying it. He was, however, too afraid to approach the authorities for fear he might be next. The monk assured the man that he would look into it, asks directions to the shop and proceeds to it.

Upon entering the shop, he approaches the counter and politely says “I require one dose of your finest poison thankyou.” The shopkeeper is visibly surprised at such a request from a monk, but is not in the business of asking questions, and after all, this could be a disguised assassin who it would not be wise to refuse. He recovers his composure, bends down under the counter and shortly produces a small vial for examination.

The monk studies the vial, and satisfactorily pronounces, “Yes, that should suffice for everyone.” The shopkeeper is again taken aback, and says quite seriously, “Sir, I do not think you understand. As you asked, this dose is for one person. It is not sufficient for more.” The monk smiles and replies, “No, it will certainly suffice. For you see, I intend to take this myself tonight… and tomorrow, everyone else will be dead.”

At which, the shopkeeper is enlightened, and never sells poison again…