chicken or the egg?


-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.

-The Dhammapada

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?


6 responses »

  1. Hi,

    Is it a koan? Well, if it wasn’t before – it sure is now!

    At the end you ask “What can we do to improve the nature of chickens, and all other beings while we’re at it?” – the answer to that one is easy….. nothing at all.

    Chickens have perfect chicken (Buddha) nature aready.

    Another good reason not to eat them.

    All the best mate,


  2. Yes, I agree. It just seems that the nature of chickens is to find themselves stuffed into tiny cages waiting to be consumed.
    I’ve managed to cut down on the amount of flesh I eat, but still do it… It’s a tough one!

  3. Here’s another possibility for you to consider:

    “The heart is the creator, not the mind. Before you physically manifested this world, you envisioned it. In that vision, you let love lead, and here you are.

    “The part of you that treads your earth is quite right in assuming the world is real. But beyond that, my dears, it exists only as a vision in your hearts. Notice I did not say in your minds–but in your hearts.

    “The moment you recognize the infinite power you possess, you will embrace it all again with love and reconnect with the act of creation that originally brought your world into being.

    “You will have come to that perfect moment when you love yourself perfectly. You will recognize the universe you have created. You will find the holy place within which is your connection to Home. Then, though you may still stumble over the illusions of separation and limitation, the requirements of your culture, you will never again be captured by them.

    “Until that time, walk sweetly with yourself.
    Find every possible reason to love who you are. …

    “Remember it is you who have come here
    to explore your own forgetting,
    to reactivate the power of love,
    to heal your world
    and set it spinning its lovely music
    through the rest of its timeless service
    until it, too, returns to Light.”
    ~ Emmanuel’s Book II: THE CHOICE FOR LOVE, compiled by Pat Rodegast & Judith Stanton

    It takes a great deal of faith to be human, does it not? :~) Mom

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