Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Puzzle of Enlightenment

 On our journey to the monastery you come upon a junction with three roads leading out, the left road, the middle road and the right road. There is a monk standing at the junction, who will truthfully answer any yes or no question, if he can do so without contradicting himself; otherwise he will immediately sit and meditate for eternity. The monk will only answer one question per traveler. 

 What question shall you ask of the monk to find out which road is the monastery road? 

Hint: A monk saw a turtle in the monastery garden and asked his mentor, “All beings cover their bones with flesh and skin, so why does this being cover its flesh and skin with bones?”. The mentor took off one of his sandals and covered the turtle with it.

We found this Riddle at : https://dl.dropbox.com/u/4458028/enlightenment_puzzle.png


  1. My question to the monk could be:
    "The road in the middle can't bring me to the monastery, have I to take the road on my left to reach it?"

    A) If the left road is the right one: he will answer "YES" (and I'll take it);
    B) If the middle road is the right one: he will answer "NO" (he can answer with "yes or not" because my statement and the answer to my question are both negatives - the statement is false and the answer have to be "no");
    C) If the right road is the correct one: he will sit... he can't answer because he need to explain what is wrong and what is true!

    A) Yes--> left road;
    B) No--> middle road;
    C) Sit--> right road.

    1. For the right path he could say no meaning that your entire statement is false

  2. There is no yes/no question you can ask without Monky contradicting himself. The answer is in the hint.

    The hint is a Koan: a paradoxical anecdote or riddle without a solution, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.

    That question makes no sense. It is a Mu. The monk is thinking too much.

    So let us look at the puzzle again, remembering the lessons in the koan. Let us not over think. Let us be enlightened.

    We can ask a yes/no question, but are not bound to ask a question in that manner. The only hard rule is 'The monk will only answer one question per traveler.'

    We must also remember the 'answer is often in the question.' In this case the final 6 words of the puzzle...which road is the monastery road?

    Therefore, you ask the Monk this question: Which road is the monastery road?

    Moshie The Mook.