One day there was an earthquake that shook the entire Zen temple. Parts of it even collapsed. Many of the monks were terrified. When the earthquake stopped the teacher said, "Now you have had the opportunity to see how a Zen man behaves in a crisis situation. You may have noticed that I did not panic. I was quite aware of what was happening and what to do. I led you all to the kitchen, the strongest part of the temple. It was a good decision, because you see we have all survived without any injuries. However, despite my self-control and composure, I did feel a little bit tense - which you may have deduced from the fact that I drank a large glass of water, something I never do under ordinary circumstances."
One of the monks smiled, but didn't say anything.
"What are you laughing at?" asked the teacher.
"That wasn't water," the monk replied, "it was a large glass of soy sauce."
People's reactions to this story:
"I see this sort of behavior often in men. They feel they have to put on a front to appear to be something that they are not."
"It's like someone bragging about how cool they are, and then you find out that he is just a geek underneath after all."
"Sounds just like my father - always in control, always right, always the leader. But WE know the truth!"
"Sometimes the calmest looking person in an emergency situation is really the most nervous."
"Someone should have thrown that water into that teacher's face so he could wake up and realize that he was kidding himself."
"This reminds me of people who think they are so great and are always bragging about it. Admitting that they are wrong is the hardest thing in their lives, when it should be something that's very natural."
"Everyone at one time or another has been in a tense situation where you think that you are composed and in control, but then you do something weird - which shows that you're not."
"Sometimes, when you're in a very stressful situation, you aren't aware of your actions until someone else points it out."
"It didn't matter to her what she drank. She wasn't concentrating on the taste, but instead the action."
"Even a Zen man is still human."
"I'd tell this story to children so they wouldn't be afraid to be afraid."
"How can you be so shaken that you can't tell the difference between water and soy sauce?!"
"I think the teacher was testing the monks - to see if they noticed what he drank.
"I think the teacher deliberately was trying to teach them that it's OK to do something weird in a panic situation. You can do somethings weird, but for the important decisions you still can make the right choices."
"Maybe the soy sauce explains why he is so relaxed."
"I really thought this story was going to have a great ending, but it was stupid."