Cycling

Zen Proverb on Bicycling

Lahaini, Island of Maui, Hawaii 2009. Photo by J. Chong

Scene while cycling on edge of town, Lahaini. Island of Maui, Hawaii 2009. Photo by J. Chong

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and 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 first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like 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 second 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 his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

Toronto, ON 2008. Accompanying Jack to train station for one of his solo trips in Quebec.

Toronto, ON 2008. Accompanying Jack to train station for one of his solo trips in Quebec.

The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”

Cycling on new CP rail converted bike path by Edwards Gardens. Toronto, ON 2011

Cycling on new CP rail converted bike path by Edwards Gardens. Toronto, ON 2011.

N.B.: My thanks to Barb, another cycling ethusiast in Washington state, where I first saw this proverb. Her blog offers a wonderful list of blogs written by women cyclists worldwide.

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11 thoughts on “Zen Proverb on Bicycling

    • Don’t know about you Anita, but sometimes my body becomes so accustomed to cycling daily that I get impatient walking for half an hr. to a store. I’ve been known to just cycle 3 blocks or less because it just feels better to me to bike to the neighbourhood destination. Glad you enjoyed the proverb!

  1. Very cool proverb. I wonder if whoever posted it took an old proverb, replaced whatever they were originally doing with “bicycle” and took credit… haha. Riding a bike is fun :)

    • Don’t know if the original “author” did it, but I like the succinct meanings in the proverb since it nicely tells very simply to non-cyclists why cycling is a good thing.

  2. Man, that’s an even better one than the proverb I used in my New Years resolution post about living in the moment. I may swipe that at some point because it’s so true. There are so many reasons to ride a bike and they’re all wrapped up together in beautiful synchronicity.

    • That proverb just rings right for any cyclist by saying it so simply about all the right reasons for cycling. The proverb has been floating around in the cycling world for past few years but I only recently came upon it!

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