A quick thought on thought

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?”


Inspiration provided by:

before enlightenment

11 thoughts on “A quick thought on thought

  1. So, let me see if I got this. Focus on breath, control it. Focus on thought, control it. Don’t focus on breath, it happens all by itself. Don’t focus on thought, it happens all by itself. He focused, literally, on thought. But the idea just sort of happened.

    One moment. Let me untangle my brain.

    It’s not an if-and-only-if situation.

    That’s all I have at 11 o’clock on Sunday night.

    But don’t fables have morals?



    Don’t think so much.

    If I hadn’t have tried so hard, that woulda come to me anyhow.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think you got it there at the end.

    And you’re right about fables. I called it what I did not because of what it is (not) which is (not) a fable but because I desire symmetry, or cohesiveness, or some such, and I had a previous post with a similar title (“a quick fable about writing”). That one might not have been a fable either, but I called it one.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Seems you might be internalizing those audio tapes you’ve been listening to, and spooling them into your spidery craft. I like that. In a nutshell, that’s what I aim to do at least!

    Liked by 1 person

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