Tag Archive for 'great stone bridge'

Lent 3 March 27, 2011

Exodus 17:1-7                                                                     

John 4:5-42                                                                            

Once there lived a great master of the Zen tradition of Buddhism. He was called, as was the practice with such masters, by the name of the village in which he lived, Joshu. In this village there was by legend a great stone bridge, the greatest in all of China. Now this master lived to the age of 120 and was renowned as a teacher. Monks travelled from all over to meet and train with him.

Once, late in his life, perhaps after 70 years of honing his knowledge and skill, a young monk came to meet him: The young monk said, “I have long heard of the great stone bridge of Joshu, but now I am here and I don’t see the stone bridge, I see only a single-log bridge.” The young monk was thinking, you see,  that he had heard all his life of this great spiritual master Joshu, and here he had come this long way and found only a frail old man.

Joshu looked at the young man and replied, “You don’t see the stone bridge; you see only a single-log bridge.” The young monk repeated, “What is the great stone bridge of Joshu?” And Joshu answered, “Horses cross, donkeys cross.”

Zen Buddhism is full of such stories, the point of which is to shake loose people’s ways of thinking, their ways of looking at life, so that they may achieve spiritual insight. There is a legend that Jesus and the Buddha met, and while historically there is certainly nothing to that, the Jesus we meet in St. John’s gospel can remind us of Zen stories like that of the great stone bridge of Joshu. The story of Nicodemus that we heard last week: Jesus talking about being “born from above.” The story this morning of the Samaritan woman at the well: Jesus offering her living water. These are like Zen stories, offered to shake us loose so that we may attain deeper spiritual insight. Continue reading ‘Lent 3 March 27, 2011’