Monday, January 02, 2006

Zen Tomahawk

Students of a revered zen master were once more arguing about the nature of reality, whether it was subjective or objective, whether material objects exist independently in concrete form or only as perceptions of the individual mind, and so on. The master, who had been lying in a dark corner of the room trying to sleep, got up, produced from within his robe a tomahawk, and asked one particularly vociferous student to come forward.

“Would you say this tomahawk exists outside of your perceptions or is it just something in your head?” he asked.

“It is definitely in my head,” answered the student immediately.

And this was true, because the master had already struck him with it, splintering his skull and penetrating two inches or more into the fragile pudding of interconnected neural cells and capillary networks which had formerly maintained his personal delusion of sentience. Miraculously, the student survived—but only in a vegetative state, and he was never heard to argue with anyone again.

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