short story. A Zen Koan.

The Zen master’s next meeting was with a New Yorker.

“Master, I need your help. I need guidance. I’m living a life that I don’t like and I wish it wasn’t my own. I wish I was someone else. It’s just clear to me that I’ll never really be happy with myself.

I’m envious of old people with most of their time behind them. I’ve accepted that I’ll never like my job, I’ll pretend to feel happy when I really feel alone, and live an ultimately ordinary, but pathetic life. I already know I’m too pathetic to even listen to your advice.”

The Zen master maintained a neutral facial expression that gave the man nothing to work with. “If a man finds himself predicting his future, he will eventually consider himself to be a psychic”, he said.

The Zen master, then, delivered a guy-wrenching blow to his stomach. The kind of pain was comparable to the feeling after drinking five cups of coffee, on an empty stomach, the morning after a night on the town. More than anything else though, he was in a state of shock. The man thought to himself, “Why, on earth, did this small, kind, old Asian man just do that to me?”


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