Just two words

Dear Seekers!

Welcome to Know Your SELF.
What I have for you today is another revealing Zen story. The question is  – What does it reveal?

Well, It reveals ample of secrets that we will talk about once you’ve read it. Just for you to know – It is one of the funniest and most famous Zen stories across the world.

Enjoy the reading!


There once was a monastery that was very strict. Following a vow of silence, no one was allowed to speak at all. But there was one exception to this rule. Every ten years, the monks were permitted to speak just two words. After spending his first ten years at the monastery, one monk went to the head monk. “It has been ten years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?”

“Bed… hard…” said the monk.

“I see,” replied the head monk. 

Ten years later, the monk returned to the head monk’s office. “It has been ten more years,” said the head monk. “What are the two words you would like to speak?” 

“Food… stinks…” said the monk. 

“I see,” replied the head monk. 

Yet another ten years passed and the monk once again met with the head monk who asked, “What are your two words now, after these ten years?” 

“I… quit!” said the monk. 

“Well, I can see why,” replied the head monk. “All you ever do is complain.”


The mind that wants to quit will eventually quit. The reason could be anything. Reasons are immaterial and are part of cheap rationalizations.
The real reason is that you want to quit so you quit; as simple as that. You did not want to quit – so you did not quit.

Ask the following questions before you begin a task –

  • Do I want to achieve this no matter what?
  • On what conditions I am going to quit?
  • Have I prepared for the adverse situations that might happen during the course?
  • Why am I doing this? 

This contemplation done before-hand will equip you better for the job that you undertake. Prepare before you start. Understand and remember the purpose and keep yourself awake at all times.

Let’s get to the story now –

This is a funny yet very meaningful story. You should ideally laugh after reading this story 🙂

The mind keeps complaining even if it is of a Monk. Mind does not pay heed to the monk. Mind is a Monkey and it spells longer than a Monk. A decade is too long a time to train the Mind but it does not want to be trained. It wants to quit and it does not want to be tamed. Mind is the obstacle that the Seekers will have to cross on the path to Self-Discovery. Be aware of your Mind. Look at its games, its tactics, its ways of deceiving you and its excuses. Mind need not be conquered but it needs to be Understood. Understanding of the Truth dissipates away the mind. On understanding the Real Truth, the Mind becomes a devotee of the Truth and achieves its true purpose.

The story also highlights the importance of Silence on the path to Enlightenment. Silence is very important on this path. The story tells us that monks were allowed to talk only two words per decade. This rule is to emphasize the importance of Silence over chatter. This rule also means you do not keep talking to yourself or within your mind. It suggests to be silent within and outside and to practice the teachings silently. Silence is a great friend and tool to know about your SELF. Learn and practice the importance of Silence. Silence can only be understood in Silence!

Piece of Contemplation –

How many words do you speak every day?
How many words do you speak to yourself (Self-Talk – the chatter that goes on in your mind unceasingly) every day?
If you were the monk in the story – would you be able to maintain your silence for 10 years?

Think and thank about it… 🙂

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About mohitvalecha

Mohit is an optimistic day-dreamer and romancer who gave up his 11 year old software profession experience to build his dream in Creative Writing. He writes blogs, articles, reviews, children stories, fiction and non-fiction spirituality books to promote reading and provide a meaning to people’s lives. If he is not reading or writing, you would find him making mock, cock and all other kinds of tails or playing with his charming son Krishna. His life is a love triangle with three corners being Devi, Krishna and his Guru, Sirshree. Mohit’s passion is Meditation, Heal and Help people and play “Bhi ta!” (Another form of Hide-&-Seek) with Krishna.
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