The Clay Pot

A friend, Bill Wisher, related a Zen story he read somewhere, he can’t recall, more than 30 years ago:

A Zen master with a clay pot on a table before him asked several students: “What is this?” Some said it was a clay pot; others said that it was a man-made artifact; others said it was a table supporting a pot. A lively debate ensued. The Zen master shook his head and laughed.  Then a student approached the table and threw the pot to the ground where it cracked into many pieces. An audible silence enveloped the room until the student asked: “What is it now?”

[To this story I added:]

The silence returned as some students were shocked, others embarrassed by the aggressive arrogance of the student. The Zen master and the student then broke the silence with laughter, for they knew that it is what it is whatever it is.