Today’s Zen biking proverb

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and I’m pinning it super-hard writing catalog copy for a bunch of bike companies. I just ran across this bit of wisdom:

A Zen teacher saw five of his students returning from the market, riding their bicycles. When they arrived at the monastery and had dismounted, the teacher asked the students, “Why are you riding your bicycles?”

The first student replied, “The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!” The teacher praised the first student. “You are a smart boy! When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over like I do.”

The second student replied, “I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path!” The teacher commended the second student, “Your eyes are open, and you see the world.”

The third student replied, “When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant nam myoho renge kyo.” The teacher gave his praise to the third student, “Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel.”

The fourth student replied, “Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all sentient beings.” The teacher was pleased and said to the fourth student, “You are riding on the golden path of non-harming.”

The fifth student replied, “I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle.” The teacher sat at the feet of the fifth student and said, “I am your student.”

Why are you riding your bicycles?

12 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Of all the things worthy of noting in MMBS, only one page of my copy has the page folded over; page 134.

    I am Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s student.

    I hope that is in MMBSII too.

  2. roger says:

    yep, sometimes we get too caught up with competition and improving ourselves that we forget the pure joy of just riding around with your bike 🙂

  3. brett says:

    Yo Lee – Did you ever see the movie titled “I Heart Huckabees”? There is a scene in which they discuss “pure being”. This is why I ride singletrack… this is why I ski powder…

    There are short moments when you forget everything. You forget you are on the bike, that you have problems in your life off your bike, that you have to work, that you are human…

    You become one with the turn, one with the bike, the ski, the world, you ARE simply being. Lost in the moment, “in the zone”, whatever you want to call it, it is truly sublime and badass all at the same time. “Pure being”… I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. leelikesbikes says:


    From MMBSi :

    Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes the feeling of flow in his groundbreaking book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience: “. . . Concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or to worry about problems. Self-consciousness disappears, and the sense of time becomes distorted.
    An activity that produces such experiences is so gratifying that people are willing to do it for its own sake, with little concern for what they will get out of it, even when it is difficult, or dangerous.”

  5. Chris says:

    Yeah, I didn’t type it out as I was hoping that everyone has a copy, and if not, to get one so they know what I’m talking about.

    So I take it it is not in MMBSii?

    It seems to be what Brett was describing too.

  6. leelikesbikes says:

    The sixth student replied, “I am practicing my Attack Position and dialing in my cornering technique so I can pin it — braaap!!!” The teacher was stoked and said, “Sweet! let’s rip!”

  7. Adrian says:

    Because it would be crazy to carry it!!

    No, but ‘c’ for serious, I ride it for the pure enjoyment of riding it.


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