Zen and the Lazy Workers’ Boss

In which a Boss learns about the merits of chatting.

An AI-generated painting in traditional Japanese style of an artisan’s workshop
An artisan’s workshop. Image generated with AI by DALL-E.

A Boss came to see a Master, and said: “Master, my employees are so lazy. They use every opportunity to avoid work.”

“Tell me what is happening,” said the Master.

“Well, it started out with chatting. They work together in pairs, and whenever I wasn’t watching, I could hear them chat.”

“How were they supposed to work together without talking?”

“Oh they can talk, just not this much.”

“Were you able to convince them to talk less?”

“Yes, Master. I used to have partition screens in my workshop, and I removed those, to create this large open space. My employees can no longer hide, and I can see who is chatting.”

“Very clever. But still, you don’t seem happy.”

“No, Master. Because since then, my employees have become sloppy. Their work is full of mistakes, and half of it needs to be redone. What can I do, Master? Please Enlighten me.”

“I don’t think you need Enlightenment,” said the Master. “You strike me as a very smart man. But why don’t you send your employees over here, and I’ll see what I can do.”

“All of them, Master? On a work day? I will lose so much money!”

The Master raised his eyebrows. “You don’t seem to value Enlightenment much,” he said.

“Oh I do, Master, I do,” said the Boss, hastily, “I will send them over right away.”

The Boss greeted, and left.

The next time that the Boss came to see the Master, he came running and screaming.

“Master, where are my employees?” he yelled.

“They left about an hour ago,” said the Master.

“They left? Where did they go? What did you tell them?”

“They went home. I asked them a question, and they became Enlightened,” said the Master.

“You tricked me! Is this how you ‘Enlighten’ people?”

“No-one can Enlighten anybody,” said the Master. “Enlightenment is about opening the soul to the truth. It comes from within.”

The Boss broke down in tears. “I want my employees back,” he sobbed. “Even when they chat too much!”

The Master smiled. “Why don’t you put those partition screens back in place,” he said.

At that moment, the Boss was Enlightened.

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