By Rajendra Deshpande
Zen Master Sen No Rikyu was growing very old. He had been the head abbot of Shitennoji Monastery for a very long time and was ready to anoint a successor. Master Sen No Rikyu decreed that the monk who he felt was least lazy, would take over as head abbot of Shitennoji Monastery. Everyone knew that the real competition was only between Chin and Tara. They both had immense character, were flush with noble qualities and were favorite students of Master Sen No Rikyu. The competition was on.
Chin pondered hard as to how he would demonstrate his non-lazy character to Master Sen No Rikyu and finally came up with a huge list of items that needed to be done around the monastery grounds. There was much work to be done and, in accordance with the Zen teachings of physical labor, he would show Master Sen No Rikyu just how devoted to work he could be. Moreover, Chin knew that some of this work was very physical in nature and that Tara, being a lady of slight stature and build, would not be able to do it even if she decided to. Feeling confident in his plan, he set out to execute it.
Chin began rebuilding the temple roof which had begun to decay. Also, high up on the roof he knew he would be very visible to everyone in the grounds, especially Master Sen No Rikyu. As he toiled in the hot sun, he noticed Tara far away sitting by the river under a shaded tree. He smiled and mentally awarded himself a point. Early the next morning, Chin sprang out of bed and headed to the monastery kitchen, which he had decided to repaint. Along the way he noticed Tara, awake, but still in bed. "Thats 2 points for me," he thought as his smile grew wider.
And so it went. Chin pounding away making the monastery the 8th wonder of the world and Tara strolling along the river, hanging out in bed, drinking tea with her friends and watching the clouds roll by. A week passed and then there was great excitement around the monastery. Master Sen No Rikyu had made his decision and all had been asked to convene in the newly built Great Meditation Hall.
"My most beloved students," Master Sen No Rikyu began, "First, I would like to say that we are renaming the Great Meditation Hall to Chin Meditation Hall, to show our collective appreciation to young Master Chin for rebuilding it so finely and also, for all the hard work he has done around the monastery grounds." After the Monks thanked Chin Master Sen No Rikyu continued, "Master Tara will take over as the head abbot." All were pleased and applauded once more, except of course a confused Chin.
Later that day, Chin visited Master Sen No Rikyu and inquired about why he had selected Tara as the least lazy student. "Dearest Chin," said Master Sen No Rikyu with a soft, compassionate smile, "In the past week she has not let a single thought, emotion or action of hers go unnoticed. She is equal to Shakyamuni Buddha himself in her awareness. I bow to her greatness." Chin understood clearly and bowed as well in admiration and respect.