Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Closing out Bike Month

There is a tendency in bike advocacy circles to ascribe all sorts of good deeds and good outcomes to bicycling. I worry about that sometimes. That rationale starts to make the bicycle sound like something that has to be experienced as penance or preventative: an aspirin, purgative, visit to the confessional, or "even more green than a Prius". Here is my response to National Bike Month.

A Bike

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students,

"Why are you riding your bicycles?"

The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"

The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."

The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path."

The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."

The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle,  I am content to chant, nam myoho renge kyo."

The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."

The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings."

The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."

The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."

The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."

Some other good koans and stories here:
http://goto.bilkent.edu.tr/gunes/ZEN/zenstories1.htm

4 comments:

Neale said...

I mean, that's why I'm doing it anymore. It's faster than walking, and why not. That's cool, it doesn't need to be this big thing, right? Except that I've pretty much completely backed out of advocacy, teaching, and any other sort of activity.

I think it's important that people want to draw larger experiences out of things. It keeps them motivated, working to help out all of humanity instead of just have their own little epiphanies. That shouldn't be diminished.

At the same time, yeah, you don't have to prove anything if you don't want to. That's great. That's what the advocates are ultimately trying to cultivate.

Khal said...

A few million individual epiphanies and pretty soon you have a mass movement.

Anonymous said...

I ride my bike because I like to ride my bike. It has always been that way. I would probably ride my bike to work even if it cost more than driving.

I like riding my fixed gear bike so much that I rode the Santa Fe Century on it this year.

Jerry

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Khal.