Prepared but not Ready–Story

The original source of this story is referenced to a compilation by Paul Reps (Zen Flesh, Zen Bones #89)

Two temples each had a child protégé. The children would pass each other on their way to the market each morning.

“Where are you going?” asked the first child

“I am going wherever my feet go.” was the reply of the second child.

This reply puzzled the first child and he went to his teacher for help. The teacher instructed him: “Tomorrow morning, ask him the same question. He will give the same answer, and then you ask him: ‘Suppose you have no feet, then where are you going?’ That will fix him.”

And so the next morning, the child again asked: “Where are you going?”

“I am going wherever the wind blows.” was the reply.

Defeated again, the first child returned to this teacher. The new instruction was similar: “Ask him where he is going if there is no wind.”

On their next meeting, the child asked with assurance: “Where are you going?”

“I am going to the market to buy vegetables.” was the final reply.

Additional Stories

This is a link to a Collection of Zen Stories     (


So, the adult teacher and the child were always using their experience and projection of the future to prepare the best answer. Sounds like a plan. It was not the preparation that was lacking, but not being ready for a present that did not unfold according to their expectations. The child may have been prepared, but he was not ready for the actual moment when the other child changed his response. As the story indicates, people and their work suffer when they are not ready

“Being ready” is being able to act immediately and appropriately as the moment unfolds.

Ready is a condition, not a skill. A possible first step is awareness—ready can be recognized when it is seen in action. For some, this observation provides the motivation to find a way to develop it further.


2 Responses to Prepared but not Ready–Story

  1. […] Prepared by Not Ready–Story  […]

  2. Thian thiaan says:

    Thank you kindly 🙂

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