Originally posted by ivanhoe
There is an old story told of a young monk who goes to his superior with two questions:
Can I smoke a cigarette while I am praying ?
To which the answer is NO. But he then asks the further question:
Can I pray while I am smoking a cigarette ?
To which the answer has to be YES.
Without encouraging you to smoke, I hope you see the difference.
Both questions are asking permission for different things. The context of the questions also change the meaning of the questions.
"Can I smoke a cigarette while I am praying ?"
This presumes that the young monk is doing his prayers. He may have a designated place and time for prayer. The life of the monk is usually regimented. The superior answers "no" because the young monk is supposed to by applying himself to prayer at that time, and he may be in a place were smoking is not permitted. There are many logical reasons that may be applied.
"Can I pray while I am smoking a cigarette ?"
This presumes there is a time a place were one is permitted to smoke. The young monk gets a few breaks and he can go outside and smoke. The question is then, is it okay to pray while smoking? The obvious answer is you can pray anytime and anywhere. So the superior answers "yes".
There could be many ways of giving a "no" to the first question, and a "yes" to the second. They are asking for two different things.