Zen Answer

Posted by on Mar 10, 2012 in Philosophy | No Comments

At a university, a teacher in the Department of Philosophy on his midterm exam posed only one question to his students;
“What is courage?”
While everyone else was thinking hard about how to answer the question, student D carried his paper to the front and handed it in. The professor looked at his paper and saw only 3 words, “This is courage.” That was his answer!
On the next exam the teacher again posed only one question: “This is the topic, please reply to this topic!”
Once again everyone began thinking hard about how to answer, except for student D. He quickly completed his exam and handed it in. What is his answer this time?
He wrote, “This is the answer. Please give me a passing grade.”
This time the professor got mad. He cried out, “D! Come back here. I have two questions to ask you. If you know the answer to the first question then you don’t need to answer the second question.”
The professor asked, “How many hairs on your head?”
D answered right away, “120 003 601 hairs on my head.”
The professor asked: “How do you know?”
D replied, “I don’t need to answer your second question” and walked away.

Later on, the same professor asked his students; “If you only had three days left to live, how would you spend them?”
His students competed with each other to give the best answer:
A said, “I would like to take these few remaining days to have fun with my family.”
B said, “I would spend all three days with my girlfriend.”
C said, “I would want to write a will.”
The professor saw that student D remained silent, so he asked him what he would do.
D said, “Professor, I want to listen to your lessons during these three days.”
The whole class began to scold him for being a flatterer who would do anything for points. Meanwhile the professor felt rather pleased. He thought, since he was held in such greater respect by D, he could ask him “Why?”
He couldn’t believe D’s honest answer:
“When I listen to your lessons I feel the days wear on like years. So the three days can feel like three years.”
The professor flunked his student at the end of the semester.

Answers can be very simple, but people usually don’t like simple answers.
Answers can also be very straightforward, but people often don’t want straight answers.

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