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When I wrote this I thought of it as a koan, but I know so little about Zen Buddhism that it's a bit presumptuous of me to use that title. Luckily, I can safely claim to have written a parable. This came to me a few years ago, while I was taking undergraduate theology classes at the local Catholic seminary in Detroit. I had to pull off the expressway and write it in the parking lot of Ford's Rouge River Plant.

A famous teacher had a student who was exceedingly faithful and hung on his every word. After many years, the teacher called his student to him and said, "your learning is almost complete. I have only one more thing to tell you, and then your studies will be complete."

He then said, "I am a madman. Everything I have told you is worthless." The student protested, but the teacher refused to say another word. The student left his former teacher in great confusion. He wandered for months, trying to decide whether his teacher was truly mad or not. Finally he sought out another sage who was famed for his wisdom. He came to the sage and said, "is my teacher a madman, or not?" The sage replied, "you are the madman." And the student was enlightened.

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