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What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg?

Posted on Jul 01 , 2011 in Blog & Newsletter

The chicken of course.  You didn’t know that?  Whew!!  :)

The Dharma Chicks have begun to lay.  PZC recently purchased 10 hybrid pullets.  Pullets are young hens ready to begin laying.  Our pullets are a cross between Rhode Island Reds and the high-strung White Leggins; both breeds are excellent layers.  We had found one egg yesterday and another this morning.  This has generated a great deal of excitement at the Center.  Each find has been followed by “Whoop!  Whoop! Whoop!”  by delighted Sangha members.

What determines the size of the egg is the chicken’s age.  The older the hen, the larger the eggs.  Pullet eggs are small but will increase in size as the chickens get older. The chicks that were purchased two months ago, also of the same hybrid breed, are doing well.  They have been integrated into the flock  and the chicks and their big sisters peacefully share the same coop.

Our Garden Master, David Barstis, has been collecting grubs from the Zen Garden for the chickens.  In turn we have been cleaning out the coop at regular intervals and putting the spent hay in the big compost pile outside the garden. This will breakdown into soil that will fertilize our organic garden.  Scott Beck, another Sangha member, has been mowing the lawn and depositing the grass clippings which are then dried and used for bedding for the chicks.  Chong Yew, our Kitchen Master, has been saving vegetable scraps and stale bread for the hens.

The chicken gate is opened in the afternoon to give the chickens the opportunity to free range.  This saves some on purchased food, makes healthier and better tasting eggs and the chickens love the freedom.  One chickens was cheerfully standing on a rock and picking leaves from a bush.  Others were neck-high in the tall weeds near the fence.  As the sun gets low in the sky, the chickens begin to move closer and closer to the chicken yard.  Once the sun is down, the chickens will walk into the yard, climb the ramp and enter the coop.  The chickens have returned home to roost.

-Diana Starr Daniels, PZC Resident

4 Comments → “ What Came First, the Chicken or the Egg? ”


  1. Monte C. Haun jr

    1 year ago

    I could tell you which most likely came first, but I don’t think that will really answer the question.


  2. Claire Gunn

    1 year ago

    As we see that things are dependent on the condition of continual change, we see that there is a permanent state of impermanence, an appearance of the process of arising and cessation, emergence and decay, cause and result of composite phenomena. Things do not come from somewhere and they do not go anywhere, in this way there is no first cause or final result. Just the appearance of things in a moment of time when we observe it and designate a definition to it, but in fact all experience is a continuum of changing moments of dependently appearing phenomena. If the chicken came first, it would have arisen without the cause of egg and therefore would have to have arisen without a cause at all and be independent phenomena that would always have existed. This is the same with the egg; it would not have had the cause of chicken to have arisen from and so would have to have been ever present and unchanging as the egg. If they arose simultaneously, they would not have time to be each other’s cause and result. They would exist independently with no causal relationship. Therefore we can say that the condition of the appearance of chicken and egg, as well as the concept of linear classification or time, is merely a snapshot of a moment of observation of a continually changing set of conditions or happenings that only appears as one thing, but actually has no core continuous substance to it. We confuse individual entities in a continuum for one thing. Therefore no real moment of chicken and no real moment of egg in order to assert which came first, neither came first. In fact the chicken, as well as the egg is a collection. Where is the chicken to point to as a cause? It is only a collection of its many parts that make the appearance of its physical body, and it is dependent on our perception of it to appear. Therefore no real chicken exists, only the appearance of the composite phenomena that make up what we can refer to as chicken. It is the same for egg, and every other phenomenon that appears. Their true nature is appearance –emptiness inseparable and transcends conceptual fabrications


    • jeff

      1 year ago

      Hi Claire, Thank you for your comment and sharing your insight about this question. In our Zen style, we often say explanation is not so good and we learn to respond to questions like this often without the use of words and speech. This is a classic Zen question that has stumped many students, thank you again for your comment!


  3. bob knab

    2 years ago

    an old zen saying –

    if the egg came first how did it get hatched ?

    the chicken hatched it -