A young Zen student was on his way to buy vegetables at the market for his monastery. On the way, he encountered a student he had seen occasionally, from a monastery some distance from his own.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Where my legs direct me”, replied the other fellow nonchalantly.
Our young fellow turned this answer over in his mind – surely there was some meaning hidden in its depths? Back at the monastery, he recounted this conversation to his elderly master, who said: “You ought to have asked the boy what he’d do if he didn’t have any legs.”
The next day, the student chanced upon the other boy again. “Where are you going?” he asked, and before the boy could reply, he continued, “Oh, I know…wherever your legs direct you, I suppose!”
“Nope!” came the unexpected response. “Today, I am going to follow the wind!” This reply threw the student into so much confusion that his mind went blank. Back again at the monastery, he related the incident to his teacher.
“You should have asked him what he’d do if no wind was blowing,” remarked the old man.
A few days later, the student came upon the other boy once more in the market. Aha! Here was his Zen moment!
“So where are you off to this time? Where your legs go or where the wind blows, I suppose. But, what if…”
“Neither of the two,” replied the boy, with a cheeky grin. “Today, I am here to buy vegetables!”