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About This Blog

Friday, 20 April 2018

405 – Confucius Visits Lao Tzu

                According to the historian Sima Qian, Confucius visited Lao Tzu when he was keeper of the Royal Archives in Wangcheng and posed a question regarding the ritual ceremonies associated with the monarchs of old.
                Lao-Tzu is reported to have told him: “These ancient kings you admire so have been dead a long while not. Their flesh is gone, and their bones are dust; only their words remain. The wise among them were paraded in chariots when times were good and crept away quietly when times were bad. It is said that merchants will hide their wealth so their stores appear empty, and that, similarly, the wise act dull so as not to call attention to themselves. My advice to you is to dispense with your pride and ambition; they will avail you nothing. That is all I have to say.”
                Later, Confucius told his disciples that meeting Lao-Tzu was like encountering a dragon.

Friday, 6 April 2018

404 – From Joan Sutherland’s “Acequias”

                A teacher said to a student, “You must be full of this realization not only in meditation, but also in daily life. It’s like filling a sieve with water.”

                After the student thought about this for some time, the teacher gave her a sieve and a cup and they went to the nearby seashore, where they stood on a rock with the waves breaking around them.

               “Show me how you fill the sieve with water,” the teacher said to the student. She bent down and scooped the water into the sieve with the cup. It was barely visible in the bottom of the sieve before it
was gone.

                “How would you do it?” she asked.

                The teacher took the sieve from her hand and threw it far out into the sea, where it floated for a moment and then sank. “Now it’s full of water,” the teacher said.

Friday, 23 March 2018

403 – Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

                Tradition has it that the practice of Zen was brought to China by the Indian, Bodhidharma—considered the first Patriarch of Zen. When he decided to return to India, he called his chief disciples together and asked each of them to give him their understanding of his teaching in order to determine which would receive the mantle of his authority. 
                The first to reply was a monk named Dao Fu, who said, “Reality is beyond yes and no, beyond all duality.”
                Bodhidharma told him, “You have my skin.”
                The second to speak was a nun, Zong Chi.  “To my mind, truth is like the vision Ananda had of the Buddha-lands, glimpsed once and forever.”
                Bodhidharma told her, “You have my flesh.”
                Next came Dao Yu: “All things are empty.  The elements of fire, air, earth, and water are empty.  Form, sensation, perception, ideation, and consciousness—all of these also are empty.”
                Bodhidharma told him, “You have my bones.”
                Finally, there was only Huike.  When Bodhidharma turned to him, Huike bowed and remained silent.
                “Ah,” Bodhidharma exclaimed in admiration.  “You have my marrow.”

Friday, 9 March 2018

402 – Bankei

                The great master Bankei was giving a public lecture on Zen when a priest from a rival sect began to heckle him: “What you are saying makes no sense! I cannot understand a word you are saying!”
                “Ah,” Bankei said apologetically. “I am sorry. Please come forward.”
                The heckler strode forward with a swagger.
                “Please come just a little closer,” Bankei requested.
                The heckler did so.
                “On this side, please,” Bankei said. “My hearing is not so good on that side.
                Again the heckler complied.
                “How well you understand me after all!” Bankei remarked.