Scented Grasses, Falling Flowers

One day Chosa went for a walk. When he returned, the monk who was gatekeeper inquired, "Where have you been, sir?" "I have been strolling about in the hills," Chosa answered. The gatekeeper asked, "Where in the hills?" Chosa said, "At first I followed the scent of the grasses. Then I wandered among the falling flowers." "Ah," said the gatekeeper, "it is very much like spring." "Better," Chosa rejoined, "than the cold autumn dew on withered lotus stems."

Zen life is profoundly selfless, as is walking through the hills naively enjoying the scent of grasses and shrubs and scattered flowers. The enlightened one enjoys the world fully with a child-like freshness. "Better than the cold autumn dew on withered lotus stems" means better than old monks who chant, meditate, and discipline themselves at the temple. Of course, these things are good, too. The Zen life enjoys both strolling in the hills and "autumn dew."


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