Zen Story: The Blockhead Lord

Zen Temple

Today’s Zen story is about power, wisdom, ego, honesty, and manipulation. It can be read, along with 100 other great Zen stories at 101zenstories.com.

The Blockhead Lord*

Two Zen teachers, Daigu and Gudo, were invited to visit a lord. Upon arriving, Gudo said to the lord: “You are wise by nature and have an inborn ability to learn Zen.”

“Nonsense,” said Daigu. “Why do you flatter this blockhead? He may be a lord, but he doesn’t know anything of Zen.”

So, instead of building a temple for Gudo, the lord built it for Daigu and studied Zen with him.

Gudo’s tactic of flattery did not go over well. Daigu spoke bluntly, without much tact, and the lord saw this as a sign of Daigu’s superior grasp of Zen. Ironically, the fact that the lord chose to build a temple for Daigu may well have proved Gudo right. Who was the more perceptive of the two? Who the more honest? Perhaps Daigu’s remark was only a more complex form of manipulation. One can never be so sure….

The Blockhead Lord

(*If you like this story, consider buying the excellent book Zen Flesh Zen Bones)

Published by

Justin Roth

A busy mind that aspires to be still.

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