Archive for traditional

The Student and Spilled Tea

{A modern-day take on a traditional inspired zen koan story}

Each night when the student would dream, he found himself trying to control his dreams, attempts (in vein) to force resolution, to find that which is missing within the dream world. This phenomenon would occur across various settings and elements of his dreams. The student would even begin to wake, realize he was dreaming and before he had completely lost the dream state, he would continue on, determined to force resolution within the dream. On one such occasion, the student was deep in a dream in which he was wandering through a large retail store in search of a missing item, his frustration levels rose and rose, not just in the dream, but in his real-world sleeping self. The student would not let himself move on from this dream, even in a state of fluidity between sleep and awake, his need for control and an orderly logical dream (life) had taken over. In another instance, he dreamed he was on vacation and had become separated from his friends and family. So determined to control the situation, ensure everyone was together, on-time and staying according to plan, he consciously choose to remain in this dream state and force and orderly completion to what he wakenly acknowledged was a dream and had no bearing on his real-life.

How sad the masters thought, this student of the way is so caught up in his idea of self and the illusion of control, that he not only attempts to control his waking-self, but also control the infinitely uncontrollable planes of the dream-world. How far he had to go in order to let go and begin to see truth and realize enlightenment.

One morning, the student woke up from another set of dreams in which he continued to impose his faulty ideas of control and structure on the ethereal plane. But on this morning, the student had a new thought- he realized what he was doing in his dreams, saw the futility of his attempts to exercise any amount of control and intentional direction overĀ  them. He then pondered his real-life awake state and also realized that this same attempts at control and understanding were just as futile in the awaken-state as in the dream-state. The student for the first time saw that the dream world and the world he inhabited while awake we really one and the same, and control and forced resolution were an illusion in both, he realized that control, decision and logically structured outcomes were non-existent and he lived in clouded vision as long as he held on to these notions.

The student thought to himself, “control is an illusion, no matter in the dream world or in an awakened state, and it is my crutch and barrier to true-sight to hold on to this.” In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.


{The same story written in a more traditional context}

A student dreamed of himself hosting a great master for dinner and tea. On this occasion, the student would sit down to eat with the master and realize that he had misplaced a key accompaniment to the meal, rendering the tea unusable. Sure that this would upset his guest, the student attempted in vein to recover his tea, even though the master ensured him it was no problem. The student began to awake from this dream and realized what was happening, so focused on control he dove back into the dream and continued to demonstrate failure in front of the master. The master stood up, intentionally spilled food on his robe, turned to the student, smiled, and thanked him for a perfect evening. The student awoke from his dream pondered what the master had done in his dream, stood up from his bed, spilled tea on himself, and smiled. In that moment, the student achieved enlightenment.