The Allegory of the Zen Garden School


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Today is Monday, March 10, 2014.

This cartoon has been making the rounds of social media.  The caption says “First Day of Zen Garden School.”  One monk is digging for buried treasure.  Another is making a “sand angel.”  A third is building a sand castle.  The one who knows he is supposed to be raking the gravel has just stepped on his rake, with unfortunate results.  The teacher, in the upper right corner is covering his eyes.  He knows he has a lot of work to do.  The student monks in the Zen garden represent different kinds of people.

The one who is digging for treasure represents people who believe that the purpose of life is to earn as much money as possible.  They are interested in one thing: financial gain.  Sometimes their interest is fame or political power.  For them, the spiritual side of life means nothing.

The one who is making a sand angel represents people who are aware that there is a spiritual component to life, but they don’t know how to connect it to anything useful in life, and they end up not learning anything useful for themselves, and not being of service to others.

The one building a sand castle represents the many people in life who want to leave some kind of legacy to future generations.  While there is nothing wrong with this, their focus is on the earthly realm, with no connection to the spiritual side of things.  Instead of focusing on the goal of the legacy for the future, these people need to focus on how they are serving others in in this lifetime, and what qualities they are learning to manifest, so that they can continue to serve God when this lifetime is over.

The one stepping on the rake represents people who know in a general sense the purpose of their lives, but they manage to get in their own way. This monk knows he is to be raking the gravel in the Zen garden into a pattern, but he goes about it clumsily, injuring himself in the process.

We’ve all been each one of these student monks?  Which one are you, now?  🙂


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