When the fifth patriarch of Zen, Hung-jen, was asked why he had chosen Hui-neng as his successor out of the five hundred monks in his monastery, he replied: "Four hundred and ninety-nine of my disciples understood Buddhism very well, and only Hui-neng had no understanding of it whatsoever. He is not a man to be measured by any ordinary standard. Hence, the robe of authentic transmission was given to him."
Those four hundred and ninety-nine disciples of Hung-jen were all scholars. For years they had studied all the scriptures. And he had chosen a man who has no understanding whatsoever. Nobody even was aware that he existed there.
When Hui-neng had come to the Master, the Master had asking one thing: "Do you really want to know? Do you? Do you want to know about truth, or do you want to know truth itself?" and Hui-neng said, "What will I do by knowing about the truth? Give me the real thing." And the Master said, "Then go to the kitchen and clean the rice for the mess-and never come again to me. Whenever the right moment has come I will call you."
Twelve years passed, and Hui-neng was still working in the kitchen, at the back. People did not even know about him. Nobody knew his name. Who bothers to think about the man who works in the kitchen from the morning till late in the night? The monastery was not aware. There were great scholars, famous people, celebrities in the ashram: all over China their names were known. Who bothered about Hui-neng?
Twelve years passed, and then one day the Master declared, "My time has come and I will be leaving this world, so I have to choose a disciple as my successor. Anybody who thinks himself ready, capable of becoming my successor, should write four lines in front of my door to show his understanding."
The greatest scholars went there in the night and wrote four lines, beautiful lines, the very essence of the second principle. He wrote: "The mind is like a mirror. Dust gathers on it. Clean the dust, and you know what is." Perfectly true, absolutely okay. What more can there be?
The whole monastery was agog. People were discussing, debating whether the Master would choose this man as the successor or not. And everybody was trying to improve upon it, but nobody could find anything wrong with it. There was nothing wrong... What is wrong in a plastic flower?
Then a group of monks were discussing it, and they passed Hui-neng, who was doing his work in the kitchen. He heard it-they were talking about this beautiful lines, the essence of all scriptures-and he laughed. For twelve years nobody had ever seen him laughing. He laughed. The monks looked at him and said, "Why are you laughing?" And he said, "It is all nonsense. It is not true." They could not believe their ears. This man, the rice cleaner... Nobody had ever seen him even meditating.
Then the monks said to Hui-neng, "For twelve years nobody has seen you reading a scripture, studying, sitting by the Master, inquiring about anything-can you improve upon it?" Hui-neng said, "I can, but there is one problem. I cannot write. I knew twelve years ago, I use to write a little bit, but I have forgotten."
This happens; this unlearning happens. Unlearning is the process of becoming enlightened. Because you have learned wrong ways, and those wrong ways are the barriers, they have to be unlearned. You are born enlightened, and then you are forced into unenlightenment.
Then Hui-neng said, "I cannot write. I have completely forgotten. If you can write, I can say something; you go and write it." Then he said, "The mind is not a mirror at all. Where can the dust gather? One who knows it know it."
When his words were written on the door of the Master, the Master became very angry. Listen carefully, the Master said, "Bring this Hui-neng immediately, and I am going to beat him." The scholars were very happy; they said, "That's how it should be. Bring that fellow."
Hui-neng was brought, and the Master took him inside and told him, "So you have got it! Now you escape from this monastery. This is my robe; you are my successor. But if I tell it to these people, they will kill you. It will be too much against their egos to accept a rice cleaner as the head of the monastery. You must escape. That's why I was angry. Excuse me. I had to be. Escape from this monastery and go as far as possible."
Hui-neng escaped. Within two or three days people got the idea that something had happened. Hui-neng was missing, and the Master's robe was missing. They started to search for him. The greatest scholar, who had written the first lines, went in the search. Hui-neng was caught in a forest, and when caught he said, "You can take this robe. I am not interested in this robe at all; this is absolutely unnecessary. I was happy cleaning rice. Now I am trying to escape and hide for no reason. You take this robe."
He dropped the robe on the ground, and the scholar tried to pick it up, but it was to heavy. He could not pick it up. He fell on the ground perspiring, and said to Hui-neng, "Excuse me. I had come for the robe, but the robe is not ready to come with me. I am incapable. And I know that I am incapable because all that I know are words and words and words. Excuse me... and teach me something."
Hui-neng said, "Teaching is your problem; you have taught yourself too much. Now unteach, unlearn. Now drop all that you know. Knowledge is your barrier in knowing."
That's why the Master said, "...and only Hui-neng had no understanding of it whatsoever."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on July 3, 2012 at 12:30 AM||comments (0)|
There was a Hindu saint in Africa. He had come to India for a pilgrimage to the Himalayas, particularly to a holy temple, one of the most difficult places to reach. Many people simply never came back - small pathways, and just to the side were valleys ten thousand feet deep, and the mountains were covered in eternal snow. Just a little slip of the foot, and you are gone.
The Hindu saint was tired, carrying very little luggage - because to carry much luggage at those heights becomes more and more difficult. Just ahead of him, he saw a girl not more than ten years old carrying a little boy, very fat, on her shoulders. She was perspiring, breathing heavely, and when the saint passed by her, he said, "My daughter, you most be tired. You are carrying so much weight."
The girl became angry, and she said, "You are carrying weight. This is not weight, this is my younger brother."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on June 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM||comments (0)|
A student was caught stealing and his fellows asked master Bankei to expel him from the community. The master ignored the request, but the student stole again. The others drew up a petition demanding his expulsion, stating that otherwise they would all leave. Bankei called them together and said, "You are wise, my friends. You know right from wrong. You can go somewhere else to study, but this poor fellow - who will teach him if I do not? I must keep him as my student even if the rest of you leave." The student who had stolen was overcome with tears and never stole again."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on May 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM||comments (0)|
Early one morning, young Babu went running to his master in the ashram.
“Master, master come quickly, Govindamurti has finally become enlightened.” Babu paused to catch his breath. “I’ve just come from the river, Govindamurti was on the other side. I beckoned him to me. He simply walked across the surface of the water to me. Govindamurti can now walk on water!”
Babu’s master remained seated and unmoved. His eyes glared at Babu with mocking joviality.
“Master, it is true,” protested Babu. “Govindamurti is enlightened. I saw him with my own eyes walk on water.”
The Master beckoned with his finger for Babu to sit before him. Silence followed.
An hour went by. In the presence and aura of the Master, Babu’s thoughts settled. He lapsed into deep meditation. Another hour elapsed. The silence was eventually shattered by a mosquito buzzing around Babu’s face.
The Master finally spoke. “Babu, is the mosquito enlightened?” “Of course not, master.”
“Yet even a mosquito can walk on water, can it not?” “Yes, but…”
“So you think that enlightenment is raising yourself to the talents of a mosquito do you?”
Babu was humbled. “No, master.”
“Enlightenment is dropping all notion of body consciousness and becoming the mosquito. Not imitating the mosquito, is it not?”
Babu nodded “Yes, master.”
“When you beckoned Govindamurti to come to you, how do you know it was not your power that prompted him to walk across the surface of the water?”
Babu looked perplexed and did not answer.
“Babu, the path to enlightenment is fraught with dangers. You will develop various powers and view many visions. All these powers and visions are impermanent, hence illusory. Know that enlightenment is even beyond sidhi powers.”
At that instant, the mosquito suddenly bit Babu on the face. Impulsively Babu slapped and killed the mosquito. The Master vanished and Babu was instantly enlightened.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on September 20, 2010 at 9:40 PM||comments (0)|
Someone came to Bokuju (Zen master).
Bokuju's master was very famous, very well known, a very great man, so someone asked Bokuju, "Are you really following your master?" Bokuju said, "Yes, I am following him."
But the man who asked the question was disturbed because it was well know all over the country that Bokuju was not following his master at all. So the man said, "Are you tryingto deceive me? Everyone knows and you are aware that you are not following your master at all, and still you say that you are following. What do you mean?"
Bokuju said, "I am following my master - because my master never followed his master. This is what I learned from him. He was himself!"
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on July 24, 2010 at 8:25 AM||comments (0)|
In bullfighting there is a term called “querencia”. The querencia is the spot in the ring to which the bull returns. Each bull has a different querencia, but as the bullfight continues, and the animal becomes more threatened, it returns more and more often to his spot.
As he returns to his querencia, he becomes more predictable. And so, in the end, the matador is able to kill the bull because instead of trying something new, the bull returns to what is familiar. His comfort zone.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on August 2, 2009 at 6:49 PM||comments (0)|
The master Bankei's talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras not indulged inscholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from hisheart to the hearts of his listeners.
His large audience angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to have a debate with Bankei.
"Hey, Zen teacher!" he called out. "Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Canyou make me obey you?"
"Come up beside me and I will show you," said Bankei.
Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.
Bankei smiled. "Come over to my left side."
The priest obeyed.
"No," said Bankei, "we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here."
The priest proudly stepped over to the right.
"You see," observed Bankei, "you are obeying me and I think you are avery gentle person. Now sit down and listen."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on August 1, 2009 at 8:16 PM||comments (0)|
Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: "I suppose you left your wodden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."
Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on August 1, 2009 at 7:27 PM||comments (0)|
Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.
Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dressplain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wroteher a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.
Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to thegroup, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who hadwritten to her, she said: "If you really love me so much, come and embraceme now."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on August 1, 2009 at 7:25 PM||comments (0)|
Gudo was the emperor's teacher of his time. Nevertheless, he used totravel alone as a wandering mendicant. Once when he was on his way toEdo, the cultural and political center of the shogunate, he approached alittle village named Takenaka. It was evening and a heavy rain wasfalling. Gudo was thoroughly wet. His straw sandals were in pieces. Ata farmhouse near the village he noticed four or five pairs of sandals inthe window and decided to buy some dry ones.
The woman who offered him the sandals, seeing how wet he was, invitedhim in to remain for the night in her home. Gudo accepted, thanking her.He entered and recited a sutra before the family shrine. He was thenintroduced to the women's mother, and to her children. Observing that theentire family was depressed, Gudo asked what was wrong.
"My husband is a gambler and a drunkard," the housewife told him. "When hehappens to win he drinks and becomes abusive. When he loses he borrows moneyfrom others. Sometimes when he becomes thoroughly drunk he does not come homeat all. What can I do?"
"I will help him," said Gudo. "Here is some money. Get me a gallon offine wine and something good to eat. Then you may retire. I will meditatebefore the shrine."
When the man of the house returned about midnight, quite drunk, he bellowed:"Hey, wife, I am home. Have you something for me to eat?"
"I have something for you," said Gudo. "I happened to be caught in therain and your wife kindly asked me to remain here for the night. In returnI have bought some wine and fish, so you might as well have them."
The man was delighted. He drank the wine at once and laid himself downon the floor. Gudo sat in meditation beside him.
In the morning when the husband awoke he had forgotten about theprevious night. "Who are you? Where do you come from?" he asked Gudo, whowas still meditating.
"I am Gudo of Kyoto and I am going on to Edo," replied the Zen master.
The man was utterly ashamed. He apologized profusely to the teacher ofhis emperor.
Gudo smiled. "Everything in this life is impermanent," he explained."Life is very brief. If you keep on gambling and drinking, you will haveno time left to accomplish anything else, and you will cause your familyto suffer too."
The perception of the husband awoke as if from a dream. "You areright," he declared. "How can I ever repay you for this wonderfulteaching! Let me see you off and carry your things a little way."
"If you wish," assented Gudo.
The two started out. After they had gone three miles Gudo told him toreturn. "Just another five miles," he begged Gudo. They continued on.
"You may return now," suggested Gudo.
"After another ten miles," the man replied.
"Return now," said Gudo, when the ten miles had been passed.
"I am going to follow you all the rest of my life," declared the man.
Modern Zen teachings in Japan spring from the lineage of a famous masterwho was the successor of Gudo. His name was Mu-nan, the man who never turnedback.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on May 26, 2009 at 3:02 PM||comments (0)|
There once was a wise sage who wandered the countryside.One day, as he passed near a village, he was approached by a woman whotold him of a sick child nearby. She beseeched him to help this child.
So the sage came to the village, and a crowd gathered around him, forsuch a man was a rare sight. One woman brought the sick child to him,and he said a prayer over her.
"Do you really think your prayer will help her, when medicine has failed?" yelled a man from the crowd.
"You know nothing of such things! You are a stupid fool!" said the sage to the man.
The man became very angry with these words and his face grew hot andred. He was about to say something, or perhaps strike out, when thesage walked over to him and said: "If one word has such power as tomake you so angry and hot, may not another have the power to heal?"
And thus, the sage healed two people that day.
|Posted by Blanca Hager on May 14, 2009 at 10:01 AM||comments (0)|
"The thought manifests as the word,
The word manifests as the deed,
The deed develops into habit,
Habit hardens into character.
So watch the thought and its ways with care
And let it spring from love
Born out of concern for all beings...
As the shadow follows the body,
As we think, so we become."
Saying of the Buddha
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on March 17, 2009 at 4:24 PM||comments (1)|
There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for
many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his
neighbors came to visit.
"Such bad luck," they said sympathetically.
"We'll see," the farmer replied.
The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses.
"How wonderful," the neighbors exclaimed.
"We'll see," replied the old man.
The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.
"We'll see," answered the farmer.
The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son's leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.
"We'll see" said the farmer.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on January 31, 2009 at 5:46 PM||comments (0)|
The old monk sat by the side of the road. With his eyes closed, his
legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap, he sat. In deep
meditation, he sat.
Suddenly his Zazen was interrupted by the harsh and demanding voice of a samurai warrior. "Old man! Teach me about heaven and hell!"
At first, as though he had not heard, there was no perceptible response from the monk. But gradually he began to open his eyes, the faintest hint of a smile playing around the corners of his mouth as the samurai stood there, waiting impatiently, growing more and more agitated with each passing second.
"You wish to know the secrets of heaven and hell?" replied the monk at last. "You who are so unkempt. You whose hands and feet are covered with dirt. You whose hair is uncombed, whose breath is foul, whose sword is all rusty and neglected. You who are ugly and whose mother dresses you funny. You would ask me of heaven and hell?"
The samurai uttered a vile curse. He drew his sword and raised it high above his head. His face turned to crimson and the veins on his neck stood out in bold relief as he prepared to sever the monk's head from its shoulders.
"That is hell," said the old monk gently, just as the sword began its descent. In that fraction of a second, the samurai was overcome with amazement, awe, compassion and love for this gentle being who had dared to risk his very life to give him such a teaching. He stopped his sword in mid-flight and his eyes filled with grateful tears.
"And at," said the monk, "is heaven."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on January 11, 2009 at 7:56 PM||comments (2)|
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on January 7, 2009 at 10:45 AM||comments (0)|
A priest was in charge of the garden within a famous Zen temple. He had
been given the job because he loved the flowers, shrubs, and trees.
Next to the temple there was another, smaller temple where there lived
a very old Zen master.
One day, when the priest was expecting some special guests, he took extra care in tending to the garden. He pulled the weeds, trimmed the shrubs, combed the moss, and spent a long time meticulously raking up and carefully arranging all the dry autumn leaves. As he worked, the old master watched him with interest from across the wall that separated the temples.
When he had finished, the priest stood back to admire his work. "Isn't it beautiful?" he called out to the old master. "Yes," replied the old man, "but there is something missing. Help me over this wall and I'll put it right for you."
The priest lifted the old fellow over and set him down. Slowly, the master walked to the tree near the center of the garden, grabbed it by the trunk, and shook it. Leaves showered down all over the garden. "There!" said the old man, "you can put me back now."
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on November 21, 2008 at 10:52 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on September 8, 2008 at 9:38 PM||comments (0)|
Suiwo, the disciple of Hakuin, was a good teacher. During one summer seclusion period, a pupil came to him from a southern island of Japan.
Suiwo gave him the problem: "Hear the sound of one hand."
The pupil remained three years but could not pass the test. One night he came in tears to Suiwo. "I must return south in shame and embarrassment," he said, "for I cannot solve my problem."
"Wait one week more and meditate constantly," advised Suiwo. Still no enlightenment came to the pupil. "Try for another week," said Suiwo. The pupil obeyed, but in vain.
"Still another week." Yet this was of no avail. In despair the student begged to be released, but Suiwo requested another meditation of five days. They were without result. Then he said: "Meditate for three days longer, then if you fail to attain enlightenment, you had better kill yourself."
On the second day the pupil was enlightened.
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on August 24, 2008 at 11:36 AM||comments (0)|
|Posted by Guillermo Gomez on July 22, 2008 at 9:22 PM||comments (0)|