Atop Wudan In the year 109, Master Po took me to the cliffs edge.
“The first lesson in Zen, is about mortality,” he said.
“When you reach my level of power, you know exactly when you will die.” He produced a handful of pink apple blossoms from his robe and threw them into the wind - they floated upon the breeze, scattering into the valley two miles below.
“Retrieve every last blossom. And when you have picked up the very last one, you will know that I have passed to the next life.”
I bowed and shed a tear. Then began my walk down the mountain. I found the first blossom two weeks later. Laying in a rock pool, bright pink contrasting violent blue.
I lived in the wilderness, hunting wolves with handmade weapons, and spent every waking hour searching for the blossoms.
I had no desire to hasten his passing, yet I understood to always obey. After 21 years, I had found 99 of the 100 blossoms. I had walked over 3000 miles through wilderness.
The mountain winds had blown them far and wide. I spent a another 60 years, looking for the final piece. I would meditate at night to keep frustration at bay and spend my days shifting through dirt, climbing trees and swimming lakes - knowing the blossom could be anywhere.
The final blossom eluded me. I dreamt of it. I hallucinated. I saw it permanently in my mind, but could never find it. And then... 81 years after first descending from the mountain, I came across a large flat rock.
Upon it was the perfect imprint of an apple blossom. The piece must have landed here many years ago, and the blistering sun had all but obliterated it - leaving nothing but the perfect print on hard stone.
I was furious.
So many years wasted. Elements endured. And it’s now clear, I could never complete the task. I returned to Wudan with 99 blossoms to find Po meditating.
I knelt before him and began to cry through frustration. “I have failed. I did not move quickly enough for the sun. I will never have all of the blossoms.”
He smiled and replied. “Then I will never die.”
Such is the way of Wudan.