The traveler didn't answer. He said only, "Go to the stream and fetch a bucket of water."
The student did as instructed.
"Now grab a cup of water from the bucket and take a sip."
The student again did as instructed. The water was cool and provided refreshment. "Aah, so this is reality."
"No," replied the traveler.
The student looked perplexed.
"Where did the water come from?"
"The bucket?" responded the student.
"You are closer to the truth," replied the traveler. "The bucket of water offers a better picture of reality but it is incomplete and stagnant."
"Aah, so the stream represents reality," said the student excitedly.
"Closer," said the traveler, "but if you were to go back to the stream it would be different because a stream is always flowing."
"Just as reality is constantly flowing and changing," replied the student in a knowing tone.
"No," said the traveler. "Your understanding of reality is still incomplete."
"Because the stream comes from the snows on the mountain and flows into a river. And from the river the water flows into a larger ocean only to evaporate and turn back into rain and snow. So it is with reality. We may sip freely from various fountains of reality but we must always remember that ours is really an incomplete –and, likely, stagnant–picture."
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