The Pond in Dragon Pool

The Pond

In one of the oldest Japanese temples, there is a small pond. It is irregular in shape, but admired by visitors—especially foreign visitors—for the subtle aesthetic effect of the design.
At the end of one such enthusiastic foreign visit, the head monk remarked confidentially in Japanese to a foreigner whom he knew well, “This pond is not old, though it has been allowed to become old-looking. As a young monk, I was one of those who dug it. Six of us began together in the middle of the space, and we simply dug outward from the centre. Of course, the stronger monks got further out than the weaker ones. After a few days, the old head monk came to see it. He said, ‘Stop! Now bank up the sides with the big stones, and leave it. See that the moss is allowed to grow over the stones.’
“As I look at it now, I do find it attractive. But when it’s so admired, I feel tempted to tell them how it got made, and ask them this: Who should get the credit for the design: the strong monks, the weak monks, the old head monk, or something else?

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