Thursday, November 10, 2005

Trading dialogue for shelter

My apologies to John--I am guilty of being one of those trolls that comments on someone's blog and instead of politely disagreeing I got a little beligerant.

Anyway, it made me think about something I read about arguing.

There is an ancient custom among some monks that a traveling monk can seek shelter for the evening at a monastery if he is able to win a debate about Buddhism with one of the resident monks. He only wins shelter for the evening, in the morning he must continue.

There was such a temple in northern Japan run by two brothers, the older brother was wise and learned and the younger was stupid and had only one eye.
One evening a wandering monk came seeking shelter and the wise brother instructed his younger brother to take the debate on the condition that the dialgoue be in silence-because he was exhausted from many hours of studying he wanted to retire.
A little while later the wandering monk came to the older brother and says, "what a wonderful brother you have, he has won the debate and so I must move on."
The older brother was surprised to hear this and asked the wanderer to relate the dialogue to him.
The wanderer explained: "First I held up one finger to represent Buddha. But he held up two fingers to represent Buddha and his teachings. So I held up three fingers to represent Buddha, his teachings and his followers. Then your clever brother held up his clinched fist in my face to indicate that all three came from one realization."
With that the wanderer left.
Later the younger brother came in looking distressed. The elder says, "I understand you won the debate."
"Won nothing. He was a very rude man," says the younger.
"Tell me about the subject of the debate," says the elder.
"First he held up one finger to indicate that I have only one eye. So I held up two to congratulate him for having two eyes. Then he held up three fingers to indicate that we only have three eyes between us! So I shook my fist at him and threatened to punch his nose, and he left."


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