The birth of a ritual

backlit silhouette of a monk praying

There was once a great zen master of fame far and wide. He had created a school of sorts and disciples flocked from far and wide to be with him. Such was his influence, that his word became a guideline for them to follow. The most important thing he claimed to have taught to the masses was, “Think for yourself!”

backlit silhouette of a monk praying
Monk at prayer in monastery

One day, as the master and students began their morning meditation, the guard dog started barking. No reason could be ascertained, and the dog wouldn’t quiet. To restore calm and bring proceedings back on track, the master suggested to his favourite pupil, that the dog be tied in a storeroom at the other end of the building from where, his barking would not disturb them.

On the next day, the same thing happened, and the same solution was followed. On the third, the students, unwilling for their master to be bothered by such a trivial matter regularly, tied up the dog in its designated place on their own.

With the passage of time, it became an automatic procedure. The dog used to be tied in the distant storeroom for the duration of the morning meditation session.

Years passed, and the master, who was already old, at the beginning of our story passed away. A star student of his returned from a distant land to take his place. Disciples came and went, but the dog continued to be tied in the storehouse for the duration of every morning’s meditation.

Years passed, and the dog, who was a mere puppy at the beginning of our story passed away too. A new dog was brought to be tied in his place during the morning meditations. Scientific explanations of the benifits of tying a dog in a distant storeroom during morning meditations were proved to be right by the intellectuals of this new school of thought.

And the biggest learning they claimed to learn from the ways of the great departed master was, “Think for yourself!”

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