Thus spake the master of charcoal: "Charcoal does not show itself, therefore is apparent."


The Tao consists of many, yet the many consist of the Tao.

There is lump in the Tao, thus the Tao of lump.
There is briquette in the Tao, thus the Tao of briquette.
There is extruded coconut in the Tao, thus the Tao of extruded coconut.

They are all of charcoal and charcoal is all of them, thus the Tao is all.


A novice approached the master and asked, "All charcoal is bought from the peasant in the village. Can we not make our own charcoal? Surely, such charcoal would be filled with the spirit of the Tao?"

The master replied, "Without taking a step outdoors you know the whole world; Without taking a look out the window you know the colour of the sky. Is this not so?"

The novice nodded his head, and the master continued, "The more you experience, the less you know. A master wanders without knowing, sees without looking, accomplishes without acting. Therefore a master builds fire without making his own charcoal."

The novice told the master that he was confused, to which the master replied, "Your confusion will lead you to the Tao. Come with me and find the Way. By holding to the ancient Tao you will come to know the primordial beginning."

Thus began a journey down the path.


A mischievous heron lives in the East, appearing only at night to place curious objects in the charcoal made by the peasants.

A master is amused by their presence and discards the objects. A novice questions their presence and saves the objects. A fool whines of their presence and ceases to burn charcoal.

Thus it is that fools are without the Tao.


The master observed a novice discarding charcoal and approached him to question him, "Why do you discard this charcoal?"

The novice replied that it was wet and that he was told by other novices that a fierce dragon spewing flame would rise from the wet charcoal and destroy everything around it if the charcoal was kept.

"Enormous branches do not grow from bansai, only from the mighty giants." stated the master. "Lava does not belch from a child's pile of sand on the beach, only from a towering volcano."

"Thus the dragon will not arise from your small pile of wet charcoal."

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