Two men were arguing about a flag flapping in the wind. "It's the wind that is really
moving," stated the first one. "No, it is the flag that is moving," contended the
second. A Zen master, who happened to be walking by, overheard the debate and interrupted them. "Neither the flag nor the wind is moving," he said, "It is MIND that moves."
(In other versions of this story,
the master says it is the HEART
People's reactions to this story:
"The mind holds ultimate power. Without it, nothing would exist. If a tree fell in
"Our minds create what we see. Our mind is strong and capable of anything."
"Nothing is as it seems."
"The Zen master is using 'move' in the sense of 'comtemplate.' The flag and wind do not think about moving, they simply do as the patterns of nature dictate, but the mind contemplates this."
"The mind is the center of all things. Without it, nothing else matters."
"Interesting, although it is obviously the wind that is moving the flag."
"How stupid! I find it sad that two people would waste time on such an argument."
"I don't like stupid-ass answers to real questions! Is it possible that physical things
move because of physical causes. I mean, c'mon, we experience physical things, but
we don't disclaim its existence just because we are mentally aware of its occurrence."
"I liked this story, but I'm not sure why."
"I wonder if the two men agreed with what the Zen master said. If so, did they agree
just because he is a Zen master?"
"Pretty intense situation! Two people arguing back and forth, and then a third person
comes in with a totally different perspective! Just goes to show you, there are many
different ways to look at a problem."
"So what's the point?"
"We westerners tend to think the mind is passive, that we just look around while our
minds sit back and watch things move. But just the opposite is true."
"I guess this means MIND OVER MATTER!"
"This story isn't trying to say that the flag and the wind aren't moving - that's insignificant. It IS what it IS.. It's the mind that gives things meaning..."
"OK. The mind moves, but so does the flag and the wind!"
"Everyone perceives the world differently."
"This story is of very personal interest to me. There are parts of me that place very
little value in my perceptual system's account of the world."
"It's a good story, but I think I'm missing something."
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John Suler, Ph.D. © 1997 All rights reserved.