Tao and the Ocean

Once upon a time, a young fish asked an old fish: "Everyone talks about this thing they call 'ocean.' What the heck is it?"

The older and wiser fish answered: "The ocean is this thing that surrounds you on all sides."

The younger fish didn't understand: "There's nothing around me! Why can I not see this 'ocean?'"

"Of course you cannot," the old fish was patient. "The ocean is both inside and outside of you. You were born in the ocean and chances are you will die in it. The ocean flows around you, just as your own skin does."

Confucius once said, "Fish forget they live in water; people forget they live in the Tao." We all live in the ocean of Zen. It flows over us; it is within us and all around us. It enfolds us like our own skin, and yet we cannot perceive it... indeed, most of us have no idea what it is. Let us think of Zen as the universal flow of reality. This will take us another step toward true understanding of Zen.