the human race has one really effective weapon

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“That’s not the way to cross the stream.”

water_walk_scoreOne of John Cage’s favorite quotes, as related by Kay Larson in Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism, and the Inner Life of Artists:

Two monks came to a stream. One was Hindu, the other Zen. The Indian began to cross the stream by walking on the surface of the water. The Japanese [monk] became excited and called to him to come back.

‘What’s the matter,’ the Indian said.

The Zen monk said, ‘That’s not the way to cross the stream. Follow me.’

He led him to a place where the water was shallow and they waded across.

I did a quick search for this parable online, but couldn’t find it replicated anywhere else. It’s possible Cage made it up up from stories he was familiar with, but if you know of another source, please leave a comment.