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Each morning he goes out of his little house and rests on a bench to contemplate the Mountains, to remind himself of This and especially of That.

Then he rakes the sand, smoothing into patterns of design the chaos of wind and water, calming and preparing his mind. 

A small Temple he establishes on the sand to be a beacon in darkness, a magnet for the wayfaring mind, a still point.


And then he sits to fish.


When mind subsides, a flash, a gleam of gold and silver in dark waters ~ the fish !


Or is it the moon, shining right to the bottom of the lake when the lake is clear and still?

Or the tail of the tiger, burning bright? Where is that tiger?


The ox is caught. It is led quietly back home, but who is that riding on its back? 


The fisherman.  He rides, he rakes, he rests, he returns

                                                                        .......OUT OF THE ZEN GARDEN




These two little parables were written for meditators  in the Zen tradition, with the symbolism and imagery popular in zen writings. The meaning is relevant to all meditation, not just zen.


The following story accompanied the gift of a miniature Zen garden on a ceramic tray, which had  stone mountains, a tiny mud house, a fisherman, bench, shrine, and a bamboo rake for the sand. The tradition of these tiny gardens dates from the Tang dynasty, over 1000 years ago.

Along with the miniature gardens, there is a long tradition of mudman figurines in China, made by hand from mud or clay. The fisherman is a popular figure, usually with a hat, pot and ceramic fish on the end of a line.


The fisherman sees into the distance and holds his rod gently.

On his back is a hat to shield him when the sun or rain is too intense, but no heavy bag of pain and sorrow which would bow him to earth and cloud his vision. The hat hangs lightly from his shoulders, and the small pot at his feet will hold what is necessary.

Sometimes the river runs dark with grief and the fish is hard to see. It is the river of life and has many moods, sometimes full of mud and silt, sometimes turbulent, sometimes serene. It floods and rages, or dwindles to a small stream in the sand, but the well at the world’s end never runs dry.

The fish dances in the water. It sees the hook and is caught. Then it is gone again, flashing its tail and hiding in the shadows. It is never caught for long, but the fisherman knows its ways, knows its value, and knows that what he must do now is sit and fish.

One day he may cease to be a fisherman.

One day he may just laugh with the fish.

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