The Student and the Zen MasterSituation puzzles (sometimes called lateral thinking puzzles) are ones where you need to ask lots of yes or no questions to figure out what happened in the situation. These are good puzzles for groups where one person knows the puzzle and answers the questions.
A new student met the Zen Master after traveling hundreds of miles by yak cart. He was understandably pleased with himself for being selected to learn at the great master's feet .
The first time they formally met, the Zen Master asked, "May I ask you a simple question?"
"It would be an honor!" replied the student.
"Which is greater, that which has no beginning or that which has no end?" queried the Zen Master. "Come back when you have the answer and can explain why."
After the student made many frustrated trips back with answers which the master quickly cast off with a disapproving negative nod, the Zen Master finally said, "Perhaps I should ask you another question?"
"Oh, please do!" pleaded the exasperated student.
The Zen Master then asked, "Since you do not know that, answer this much simpler riddle. When can a pebble hold back the sea?"
Again the student was rebuffed time and again. Several more questions followed with the same result. Each time, the student could not find the correct answer. Finally, completely exasperated, the student began to weep, "Master, I am a complete idiot. I can not solve even the simplest riddle from you!"
Suddenly, the student stopped, sat down, and said, "I am ready for my second lesson."
What was the Zen Master's first lesson?
HintThe answer is not in the solution to the riddles. Who is teaching who?
AnswerThe student's first lesson was that in order to learn from the Zen Master, the student should be asking the questions and not the Zen Master.
If you are wondering which is really greater, or how does a pebble hold back the sea, I don't know either. Sorry. Go ask a Zen Master!
(If you come up with a really good answer, submit a puzzle! I'd love to see it--Zonahobo)
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