-What came first, the chicken or the egg?
Perhaps the world’s best known koan. Could it be considered a koan? Marcus? Barry?? Anyone??? Regardless, for a while now, I’d thought for sure I’d figured out the answer. Or, at least until today, when I realize I’d been approaching it from the wrong point of view; mainly, a physical one.
Accepting Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, then it only makes sense that the egg came first. What ever laid the egg would have been one evolutionary step from being a chicken.
If we look at Adam and Eve, there’s no talk of egg, sperm, uterus, womb, or anything. The Creator scooped up a lump of clay with conspicuously human-like hands, and made Adam on the spot. Could we venture to believe that if this were the origin of our species that The Creator would have treated chickens any differently? From this point of view, it’s arguable that the chicken came first, but personally I’d bet the farm, or at least the chicken coop on Darwin. (Sorry, God. We can settle this later…)
At work this week, we’ve been having lots of long breaks while middle school students stay home to prepare for their exams. Today, I brought the Dhammapada with me to fill the time. The book is 110 very small pages, but I’ve yet to get to page 17 even after a few months. Practicing “not getting too far ahead of myself”, I’ve just been rereading the first four chapters every time I pick up the book. Every time, it is still like reading it for the first time, so I know it still needs to sink in. Or maybe it’s because chapter 5 is titled “The Fool” and I’m afraid it will be too personal! For what ever reason, when I opened the book today, instead of flipping over to page 17, I once again began at page 1…
Mind is the forerunner of all actions.
All deeds are led by mind, created by mind.
I’d been thinking of writing about my thoughts on the chicken and the egg for the past couple days, more for a little comic relief than anything, and if I had, it would have been a much shorter post. Although it wasn’t what I had in mind (or my conscious mind, anyway…) when I solicited the Dhammapada for knowledge this evening, it suddenly ocured to me the level on which the question is asked is totally irrelevant. Yes, I realized before that it was totally irrelevant anyway, I just hadn’t realized why. The opening words of the Dhammapada suddenly told me it wasn’t a matter of the chicken or the egg, it was the chicken’s mind. Whether the egg came first, or vise versa, the question really ought to be, “What came first, the chicken or chicken nature?”
As much as I’d like to leave it at that, my mind is left with one last question; What can we do to improve the nature of chickens, and all other beings while we’re at it?