“I should have been wearing one of your yukata kimonos” he said to the monk who kept
walking ahead of him, crossing the little wooden bridge. The kiosk had disappeared from
sight– it seemed to have vanished in the air.
The monk turned around and smiled. His small perceptive eyes glanced at the guest with
“It doesn’t matter what you are wearing, young man. Let me tell you something.”
They had both stopped on the bridge, right in the middle of it.
“Look into the water”, the monk told him. “What do you see?”
The guest glanced at the smooth surface. A few maple leaves were floating slowly in
lazy ripples, following the current of the lake – or of a river that came from somewhere
“I see those leaves…”
“Of course. And do you think they are moving?”
He watched the leaves spiraling in slow motion on the surface of the water, carrying
their reflection away, taking distance.
“Yes, I believe they are moving”, he replied.
“And that is where you might be wrong.”
The monk smiled again. The guest blinked, confused.
“I don’t understand.”
“Let me explain. In our view, the truth is often altered by our own perception of it. If
you are in a boat, on a river and you see the trees on the shore, what do you actually see? “
“The trees moving along.”
“Exactly. But the truth is that it is you who are moving. In our perception of life, we
must learn to distinguish what is illusion and what is true, from everything that happens. Our
own impressions alter things a lot. If you want to know yourself, and know the truth of life,
you must be still and learn to distinguish appearance from essence. Impressions are deceiving.
Approach them carefully. Cultivate deep thoughts and detachment.”
“I agree about the tree and the boat. But what about these leaves? Aren’t they moving?”
“No, they are not moving.”
The monk smiled patiently and undisturbed. The guest seemed confused again by the
“But I see them moving…”
“And yet, they are not moving. It is you who are moving.”
The guest frowned a bit, trying to figure out the meaning of what the monk had said.