Zen and the Nine Whys

More is not always better.

An AI-generated painting in traditional Japanese style of an Honoured Teacher and a Zen Master.
The Teacher and the Master. Image generated with AI by DALL-E.

It was a beautiful day when the Teacher came to visit the Master.

“Ah, Roshi!” said the Master, “Back in Japan again?”

“As you can see, Master,” said the Teacher. “I wished to tell you about my new invention.”

“No less!” said the Master. “Do tell me all about it.”

“I’ve named it ‘The Nine Whys’, Master. It’s a method to uncover a group’s common purpose.”

“That sounds intriguing,” said the Master. “So, how does it work?”

“Well, we start off by asking each individual why their contribution matters. And then we continue asking ‘why’ nine times to reveal their deepest inner motives.”

“Heavens,” said the Master. “And what led you to this idea?”

“It was breathtakingly simple, Master. We were studying ways to improve upon ‘The Five Whys’, a method from Roshi Ohno. And then we expanded it to ‘The Nine Whys’. Obviously, nine is better than five.”

The Master gave the Honoured Teacher an amused look. “So the purpose of your method was to outdo the Five Whys?”

“Yes, Master. Imagine how much better our method is!”

“Well, what can I say?” said the Master, shaking his head. “It’s a stroke of genius. That will teach Roshi Ohno a lesson.”

“Without question, Master!”

The Teacher greeted and left. Not Enlightened, but very pleased with himself.

Further Reading

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