The Story of the Ten Buddhist Monks
You know the quaint story of the ten monks travelling together from one Master to another, in search of the enlightenment they had failed to obtain? Crossing a river in flood, they were seperated by the swift current, and when they reached the other shore, they reassembled and one counted the others to make sure that all were safely accross. Alas, he was only able to count nine brothers.
Each in turn counted the others, and each could only count nine. As they were weeping and bewailing their drowned brother, a passing traveller on his way to the nearest town, asked what their trouble was and, having counted them, assured them that all ten were present. But each counted again, and the traveller being unable to persuade them, left and went on his way.
Let us continue the story:
Then one monk went to the river-side in order to wash his tear-stained face. As he leant over a rock above a clear pool he started back and, rushing to his nine fellow-monks, he announced that he had found their poor drowned brother at the bottom of a pool. So each in turn went over to the rock in question and, leaning over, looked into the depths of the pool.
When all had seen their poor drowned brother, whom, owing to the depth of the pool, they could not reach, they celebrated a funeral service in his memory.
The passing traveller, returning from the town, asked them what they were doing and, when he was told, pointed out to them, and assured them, that since each had celebrated his own decease, and since all had celebrated the decease of each, one and all they were well and truly dead. On learning this each monk was instantly awakened, and ten fully enlightened monks returned to their monastary to the intense delight of their grandmotherly old Master.
["The Tenth Man" by Wei Wu Wei (Terrence Gray); Hong Kong University Press, 1966.]