Quantum Enlightenment and the Watched Pot
Sōgi bows before Ikkyū.
“Master Dōken rebuked me this morning,” he says.
“What did you do this time?” replies Ikkyū.
“Nothing. I merely asked why the bird sings in its gilded cage.”
Ikkyū sighs. “What was the Master doing?”
Sōgi reflects for a moment. “At the time he seemed rather agitated at a pot of water.”
“What did he say to you?”
“He cursed the stove. Then he cursed my gilded bird. I explained that the cage was gilded, not the bird, but that upset him further. Then he asked did I not know a watched pot never boils?
“Master Ikkyū, I am unfamiliar with this wisdom. What is its meaning?”
Ikkyū laughs. “Young Sōgi, that is not wisdom. It is mere frustration with the perceived perversity of the material universe.”
“But … Master Dōken is the embodiment of enlightenment.”
“Master Dōken isn’t enlightened until after he’s had his coffee. Before then he’s just a grumpy old man.”
Later, Sōgi again approaches Ikkyū. “Master, I have been thinking on your lesson this morning.”
“It wasn’t a lesson. I just explained why Master Dōken was upset.”
“Indeed. So, the other day Master Haisen was reflecting on the quantum nature of enlightenment.”
“Here we go…” Ikkyū mutters under his breath.
“He holds that all we perceive is merely the expression of one potentiality. There are infinite possibilities, he says. Infinite universes. ‘Infinity awaits our notice,’ he says. Nothing becomes real until it is observed.”
“Yes,” says Ikkyū. “That sounds like something Master Haisen would say. In this continuum, anyway. Who knows what he might say if a raindrop fell on the fly instead of the honeybee.”
“I believe his insight must mean Master Dōken is wrong,” says Sōgi.
“Wrong? How so?”
“If Master Haisen is correct, it means a pot never boils until it is watched.”