The Pointing Finger

The Zen master’s dog loved his evening walks. The dog would run to fetch a stick, run back to the master, and wait eagerly for the next round.

One day, the Zen master decided to take one of his favourite disciples with him on the evening walk. He was an intelligent and rational boy, and so was troubled by the contradictions in Buddhist doctrine.

‘You must understand,’ said the Master. ‘That words are only signposts. Never let the words or the symbols get in the way of truth. Here, I will show you.’

Having said that, the Master called his dog. ‘Fetch me the moon,’ said the Master and pointed to the full moon.

‘Where is my dog looking?’ asked the Master to his bright disciple.

‘He’s looking at your finger,’ replied the boy.

‘Exactly. Don’t be like my dog,’ said the Master. ‘Don’t confuse the pointing finger with the thing that is being pointed at.

‘The Buddhist words are simply signposts. Every man fights his way through other men’s words to find his own truth.’

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