Zen and the Quest for Truth

Too high a seat might make the world seem level.

An AI-generated painting in traditional Japanese style of a monk and a student carrying a heavy book.
A student and a monk. Image generated with AI by DALL-E.

A student, a heavy scroll under his arm, arrived before a Master.

“What is it that you bring, my Son?” the Master asked.

“The Imperial Council of Science’s report, Master. It proves once and for all that the Earth is flat.”

“I see. Yet, here you are,” said the Master, “so something must be troubling you.”

“Indeed, Master. How can the Earth be flat? It makes no sense to me. Yet even the Imperial Council believe it. Who am I to disagree?”

“How did the Council come to their conclusion?” asked the Master.

"The Emperor tasked the Council with proving Flatness Theory, Master. Each member scientist then set out to look into one particular aspect.

One scientist examined the horizon, and called it an illusion of gravity pulling on our lines of sight.

Another explained that the Earth’s cone-like shadow during a lunar eclipse was an illusion caused by the Moon’s curved surface."

“Is that so,” said the Master, thoughtfully.

“The Chief Scientist then compiled all findings into this report. As the term ‘illusion’ was used in every study, she concluded that the whole idea of a round Earth must be an illusion, too.”

“Well, well,” said the Master. “And you don’t think these outcomes fit together?”

“No, Master,” said the student. “The Council’s minds seemed set before they even looked. I question if their work is truly proper science.”

The Master smiled. “It is, my Son. The scientists have accurately measured the Emperor’s opinion.”

At that moment, the student was Enlightened.

Further reading

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