Road Apple Zen

From a collection of 100-word stories & wonders

A spiritual seeker learns something about the way of Zen from an old hand. Inspired by the writings of Alan Watts. Photo by Jeanne Finegan.


My Zen teacher was Japanese, but he insisted his students call him Bob. Bob owned retired quarter horses. My first day with his group, he led us around to the barn, handed out pitchforks, sent us off to muck stalls. Backbreaking work done ankle-deep in squishy cedar chips, nostrils tingling from the ammonia tang of shit and piss. Bob sat nearby in the sun, back straight, glittering eyes half-closed. On my fifth wheelbarrow load, I paused beside him, shook off sweat, said, “I came here to learn Zen.” Without opening his eyes Bob said, “Then why you stop.”

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