The young abbots Aki and Haru had known each other for a few years as novice monks, and were eager to prove their methods were better than their rival’s.

The old monk Shinpuru was working on many projects and found himself working under the order of both junior abbots.

Master Zjing heard of this and came by to form an opinion.

— — —

“Good evening, monk,” she said. “I’ve never seen you in these gardens before. Would you tell me a word on our newest abbots?”

“Good evening, master,” Shinpuru replied bowing politely. “Both abbots have very little in common but their eagerness and motivation. For this I am grateful, and thanks to their example I found the motivation to start cultivating these two additional plots recently.

“This first plot I set out after Haru’s example. After much work of planning, leveling, ploughing, weeding, I’ve endured criticism for there was no plant to please the monks’ eyes. Now I planted grass on it: it’s perfectly cut and requires minimal maintenance. Nothing will ever get out of control, which is for once relaxing.”

Commented Zjing: “It is indeed a picture of quiet and order, and I will enjoy sitting on fresh grass this spring for my morning meditations. It is a shame you had to endure criticism while working.”

— — —

“This second plot,” added Shinpuru leading her to the opposite of the courtyard, “is more fitting with Aki’s nature. As soon as I got my hands on it, I added big, colourful flower bushes, and have kept changing ever since. Some of the flowers die, but others prosper and grow, even though I kept adding even more plants. Growing in that competitive environment, the offspring are strong and I’m eager to see what this garden can teach me.”

Commented Zjing: “It does look a bit messy but these bright colours mixes most certainly please my eyes. Everywhere I look I can see delighting details in your work. But would you leave this unattended, don’t you fear weed would upset the delicate balance and overtake your garden?”

— — —

Shinpuru thanked Zjing, bowed, and left.

She was still standing before the second garden, wondering what correction or praise the two young abbots deserved.