A junior monk was carrying water from the river to the main house. Seeing his master chopping wood, he stopped to ask, “Master, what is thought?”
The master paused, and responded, “Thought is breath.”
The junior monk did not understand, but it was clear his master had no more to say. He continued to the main house with his water.
The next day, the junior monk was again carrying water from the river when he saw his master chopping wood. “Master,” he said. “Thoughts come and go, but we always have breath.”
The master said, “Sometimes I chop wood. Sometimes I do not chop wood. Wood does not chop itself.”
The junior monk was puzzled, but it was clear his master had no more to say.
That evening at supper, the junior monk said, “Master, when we focus on breath, we control breath, and when we do not focus on breath, breath arises on its own. It is the same with thought.”
“Good,” said the master. “Now tell me, which type of thought revealed this answer?”
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