Well, I’ve started work on my next book; much quicker than I anticipated. If all goes to plan, it will be a pocket-sized book of 12 Zen parables, set out in my own words and with my own spin. I wanted to call it, “Zen for Cockneys”, because it is aimed at ordinary salt-of-the-earth people (like me) who are not exactly what you would call intellectual and do not want rambling philosophies, but simple and easy to understand literature that speaks volumes in its simplicity. Then I thought to myself that a lot of people might take the title literally and think, “I’m not a Cockney, so this book can’t be for me”. So, as things stand, I’m looking to call it, “Twelve Steps for the Pathless Path”. As with my last offering, I’m going to showcase it here on my blog as I write it and then put it into book form. So, ladeeeeeez an’ gennelmen… I give to you… The Ten Fools.
Ten fools were on their way to a neighbouring town. They came to a river, which was quite fast flowing, and had to cross it in order to reach their destination. When they got to the other side, one of them decided it would be a good idea to do a head-count; just to make sure they were all safe. He counted, one, two, three etc. and only counted nine; forgetting to count himself in the process. Alarmed, he shouted, “I can only account for nine of us”. Another shouted, “let me count, just to make sure”. He also forgot himself and only counted nine. They all did the same and became very distressed at having “lost” one. In their distressed state they tried to work out which one of them had been swept away, As they did so, a sympathetic traveller happened along. Seeing their distress, he enquired as to what was wrong.
As they blurted out their tale of woe, the traveller immediately saw what the problem was. He said, “OK, I have an idea. I want you all to count yourselves individually”, and he got them all to line up in front of him. He said, “I will go along the line and give each of you a blow on the head”. “As I do so, I want you each to shout, one, two, three etc as we go; this way we make sure that nobody is counted twice”. So, the traveller went along the line, delivering a blow to each one as he did so. When he got to the end the last man shouted “TEN”. They were all so relieved and couldn’t thank the traveller enough.
The ten fools were the cause of their own grief. They were always ten, but their ignorance led them to believe that one of them had been swept away and drowned. This is classic egoic behaviour. They did not gain anything new when they realised no one was lost. We are always pure, infinite being and have no reason to suffer. But we impose imaginary limitations on ourselves by losing sight of our true nature, and then complain when these imaginary limitations cause us pain and suffering. We then engage in spiritual practise in order to attain something that we already have. Ironically, the spiritual practises themselves have to affirm the limitations in order to function. It is a case of the blind leading the blind, with the ego being the only winner.
We are always pure consciousness, existing in a state of infinite bliss. The letting go of the idea that we are not, is an end to suffering.