The 15-Rock Puzzle

Ryoanji Temple is another Zen temple in Kyoto that has a famous raked pebble “garden” with 15 carefully placed rocks, all supposedly visible from the one side but placed so that only 14 are visible at one time. There is seating along just the one side for viewing and meditation while the other three sides are walled. Tradition indicates that only by enlightenment is one able to view the fifteenth boulder.

15-Rock Pebble Garden

We sat with the rest of the crowd, meditated, counted and re-counted the rocks but still only counted 14. It slowly became apparent that the “missing” rock would have to be hiding behind one of the larger rocks on display. We meditated a while longer. This time while meditating, I got further enlightened and figured out the only place the other rock could be hiding was on the other side of the big rock at the far right end of the garden because this rock would be the only rock we would be able to peek behind; but, we needed to move in order to do so. Therefore emboldened, we got up and walked to the end of the viewing deck, peeked behind the rock, and voila! There it was—rock #15. It sure felt good to be a participant of enlightenment.


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