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The missing stone
One of the great monuments in the city of Kyoto is a Zen garden consisting of an area of sand and fifteen rocks.
The original garden had sixteen rocks. The story goes that as soon as the gardener had finished his work, he called the emperor to see it.
‘Magnificent,’ said the emperor. ‘It is the loveliest garden in Japan. And this is the most beautiful rock in the garden.’
The gardener immediately removed the rock that the emperor had so admired and threw it away.
‘Now the garden is perfect,’ he said to the emperor. ‘There is nothing in particular that stands out, and it can be seen now in all its harmony. A garden, like life, needs to be seen in its totality. If we linger over the beauty of one detail, the rest will seem ugly.’