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Friday, 12 January 2018

398 – Bingting Comes for Fire

                After completing his training with Luohan Chichen, Fayan Wenyi became a teacher in his own right.
                A student named Hsuanze came to the temple and took part in the daily life of the monastery but never made use of the opportunity for private interviews with the teacher which is a standard tool used to hone the understanding of Zen students. One day, Fayan asked Hsuanze why he had not sought to take part in these interviews.
                “When studying with my previous teacher,” Hsuanze explained, “it was my good fortune to have my mind’s eye opened somewhat, and I believe I’ve acquired some insight into this matter of Zen.”
                “Is that so,” Fayan said. “So, tell me about this insight.”
                “When I asked my Master who the Buddha was, he told me, ‘Bingting comes for fire.’”
                “That’s a fine reply,” Fayan said with admiration. “However, I’m afraid that you might have misunderstood what your master was saying. Tell me, in your own words, what do you think he meant?”
                “Well,” the student replied, “Bingting is the god of fire, and so, of course, his nature is fire. It’s clearly ridiculous to suggest that one whose nature is fire should have to come for fire. In the same way, the nature of human beings is Buddha-nature; so it’s just as ridiculous for one whose nature is already Buddha-awareness to ask another who the Buddha was.”
                “Uh-huh!” said Fayan, nodding his head. “It’s as I expected. You didn’t understand.”
                “I didn’t?” the student said with surprise. “In that case, please instruct me. What would you say?”
                “Very well, ask me your question.”
                “All right: Who is the Buddha?”
                “Bingting comes for fire,” Fayan replied.

Friday, 29 December 2017

397 – Bankei Yotaku

                A priest from a rival sect once challenged Bankei Yotaku saying, “The founder of our sect had such powers that if an attendant held up a sheet of paper on one side of the river, he could write the name of the Buddha in the air on the other side of the river, and it would appear on the paper.  What do you think of that?”

                “Not much.  Stage magicians are capable of much more spectacular feats,” Bankei scoffed.  “But that isn’t the way of Zen.”

                “No?  What ‘feats’ are you capable of?”

                “When I’m hungry, I eat; when I’m thirsty, I drink; when tired, I sleep.”

Friday, 22 December 2017

396 – A Daoist Tale

                There was a man who had a small boat in which he would go out onto the lake alone. As it happened, he was in the boat meditating one evening with his eyes closed when another boat suddenly struck him. He thought, angrily,  “What a careless fellow!” He intended to say something sharp to the irresponsible boatman, but when he opened his eyes, he found the other boat was empty, only drifting on the waters, and his anger immediately dissipated.