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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

367 – Kans, the Uncle of Krishna

                Krishna and his brother, Balarama, spent many years in hiding because their lives were threatened by his Uncle Kans, who had usurped the throne of their father. Kans had been warned that Krishna was destined to bring about his downfall, and so he sought for a way to destroy the young man. He arranged a wrestling tournament and invited all the youths of the land to compete. Krishna and Balarama joined the contestants, and as they entered the stadium everyone who saw Krishna saw only what their own natures permitted them to see. The women saw a young man of surpassing beauty. The men saw a noble lord. The other contestants saw a mighty wrestler. And Kans saw Mara, the god of death.

Monday, 16 October 2017

366 – A Tale of the Sixth Patriarch

                Huineng is now recognized as the Sixth Patriarch of the Chan – or Zen – tradition in China.
                The story is told that when he was a young boy, he heard the Diamond Sutra being recited, and—solely on the basis of hearing a single line —he became enlightened. He asked about the sutra and was directed to the monastery of the Fifth Patriarch, Hongren. Hongren recognized the depth of this young layman’s understanding, but he also realized that if he showed the boy any favoritism, it would result in jealousy among the other monks, so he put him to work in the kitchen pounding rice.
                When Hongren decided it was time to retire, he called his chief students together and told them each to write a verse which displayed their understanding of Zen. The author of the verse which demonstrated the clearest understanding would be declared Hongren’s successor.
                The head monk, Shenxiu, posted his verse outside the meditation hall:

The body is like the Bodhi-tree,
the mind the stand of a mirror bright.
Take care to keep it clean
and don’t let dust or dirt alight!

                The other monks were so impressed by this verse that no others were posted, and it was assumed Hongren would chose Shenxiu. However, the next morning a second verse was placed beside that of the head monk.

The body is not a tree,
The mind not a mirror bright.
Since from the beginning not a thing exists,
where can dirt and dust alight?

                This verse had been composed by Huineng, and, on the basis of it, Hongren declared the boy to be the Sixth Patriarch.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

365 – From Anthony de Mello’s "One Minute Wisdom"

                To a group of disciples whose hearts were set on a pilgrimage the Master said, “Take this bitter gourd along. Make sure you dip it into all the holy rivers and bring it into all the holy shrines.”
                When the disciples returned, the bitter gourd was cooked and served as sacramental food.
                   “Strange,” said the Master slyly after he had tasted it. “The holy water and the shrines have failed to sweeten it.”

Thursday, 12 October 2017

364 – Nyoe and Seigun

                As Seigun entered a temple with Nyoe, he noticed a sparrow making droppings on an image of the Buddha. He asked, “Has the sparrow Buddha Nature or not?”
                Nyoe answered, “Yes.”
                “Then why does it make droppings on the head of the Buddha?”
                “Does it make droppings on the head of a hawk?” Nyoe answered.