A Kōan: The Bear and the Monk

A monk finds a bear in his room.

The bear will leave sometimes, but it always comes back.

The monk tries not feeding it, but the bear still comes.

The monk tries banging on bells and drums to make the bear go away, but the bear still comes.

The monk tries feeding the bear, hoping to appease it, but this makes the bear come more often and it becomes aggressive toward the monk.

Finally, the monk decides that he will sit quietly and not allow the bear to interrupt his prayers when it comes, though he will not encourage it to stay.

At first it is difficult and patience is required, but in time he comes to not mind the bear so much, and it comes less often.

In time, perhaps, the bear will leave, but the monk no longer cares.  He finds joy not in spite of the bear, nor because of the bear, but outside of the bear’s presence entirely.

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