Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality:


Click here to go to the next issue

Highlights Home Page | Receive the Nondual Highlights each day

#1455 June 8, 2003  Editor: Gloria

On another occasion a monk asked Wu-ming, "The Third Patriarch said, "The Great Way is without difficulty, just cease having preferences." How can you then delight in eating cucumbers, yet refuse to even take one bit of a carrot?" Wu-ming said, "I love cucumbers; I hate carrots!" The monk lurched back as though struck by a thunderbolt. Then laughing and sobbing and dancing about he exclaimed, "Liking cucumbers and hating carrots is without difficulty, just cease preferring the Great Way!"


"There is nothing to practice. To know yourself, be yourself.  To be yourself, stop imagining yourself to be this or that.  Just be.  Let your true nature emerge.  Don't disturb your mind with seeking."
~Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (from ANetofJewels)    

Catherine ~ SufiMystic  

Sunday Morning  
I was in the kitchen getting ready to prepare Sunday dinner when I heard a
knocking on the side door.  On opening it I saw this great big leather clad
figure standing there with a motor bike helmet on his head.  It was almost
impossible to see his face because of his red and grey beard and it took me a full
minute to realise that this was my brother from Ireland whom I have not seen for
a few years.

His partner was with him and they were on their way to the highlands but they
had made the detour to see me.  We caught up on each others news as quickly
as we could and they told me that they were heading off to France next week for
a three week holiday and following that they are going to Spain in their
camper for the Autumn months ... to chase the sun as they put it, and then they
will winter in Italy.

They have a beautiful house near Dublin which is situated right beside a
beach and they never seem to spend any of their time there at all.  I asked them
about this and they said that they like travelling and rarely spend any time in
their lovely home.

I thought about this after they left and wondered about why they are so
restless when they have heaven right there on their own doorstep.  Having pondered
on this conundrum I turned to go into my computer room and my eye fell on all
the printed matter which is waiting to be filed. 

Here is this cosy little room I have all the wise words, the poetry and the
teachings from wherever they originated in this world of ours.  There's India,
China, Israel, America and many other countries all here waiting for me and to
me they are all one but each and every single one of them is as important as
the other.

I have the world at my fingertips with the computer and friend's wise words
and thinking's to read and ponder on when I want.  Outside is my garden with
its shady corner waiting for me to sit and relax while I gaze over the pond in
the valley and onwards to the hills and the wonderful sky above. 
This is my world and it is all I need.  I am indeed blessed.

~ ~ ~

My Aunt Peg  
Across the sprawl
of Dublin's not so fair city in the fifties
lived my Aunt Peg and her family.

Their house was on the wrong side we were told
although where we lived on the other side was no great shakes.

When we visited my Aunt Peg always seemed to be sitting in her large torn
armchair as she laughed and squawked with mirth while her battling babes either
suckled or fought for scraps of bread thinly spread with marg. or dripping. 
Ten children there were and Uncle Jerry was always lost to all in his euphoria
as his ancient gramophone blared beethoven from his corner beside the miserable
little fire. 

In that hectic, clamouring and overcrowded room there was never any harsh
yelling of voices, nor fists raised in anger, but all around was happy, laughing,
and warm all enveloping Love.

We, of course were different. 
Marched like marionettes to and from church in pristine white socks, frilly
dresses, and brothers with caps set just so on their brylcreamed and flattened

Like farmer Browns cows we were paraded nose to tail and many stopped to
admire and praise this perfect family as in our finery we were force marched on
our very unhappy and miserable way.

Many times we were told
how common and wild Aunt Peg's lot were
but many, many, times I found myself wishing that I lived with them.

And now at last I am... 

Laughing and happy and not caring if the beds are made or the floor is clean.

Not needing anything because I have it all.  Knowing that all I have to do is
keep my heart open allowing Love from the universe to flow in and out like a
warming, healing and loving caress.  A deep breath of love that every single
human and animal on this planet is sharing with me right now. 

Above, below, and around is Love, and I am a part of it...
I am it and it is All and All that Is.
And now I know at last my search is over
I have found what always was always there  
and that is ALL .... it is Love 
The Love of All for All


Zen Oleary ~ SufiMystic

Beach Mind

My mind is spitting out
fragments this morning,
undigested bits of memory
that bob to the surface
in the hollows of sleep,

I wiggle my toes
in wet beach sand,
watch the bubbles rise
from the breaths of
small creatures
exhaling in mud and
crushed shell fragments. 
My eyes hatch images
from the past,
tiny crabs that scurry in circles
going nowhere,
bearded barnacles that cling to rocks
with a ferocity that
fingers could not loosen.
I stood with the gulls, one-legged,
in sentinel position,
watched the waves
write the sand,
each turn erasing
and beginning again,
breathed in the salted air,
felt the feathers on my head
heavy with ocean dew. 

In my mind I became a gull, web footed, 
one of that raucous gang of scavengers
who soar with ease,
ambush smaller birds for food,
attack each other,
crack clamshells from great heights,
and  strut about with outlaw pride. 

Yet, standing one-footed on the sand
in the greyness of morning with
the sun yolk sliding up the horizon,
I felt my gullness to be a gift,
a pathway to other worlds,
to those who hum along
the sea sand divide,
all the small watery creatures
who wiggle to earth’s heartbeat. 

If I could turn off
the spigot of thought,
I could shed my bones and
dance with the ghost crab in this,
my ancestral home and remember
the old rhythms and sounds. 

Sometimes, for blessed minutes
here and there,
on different mornings,
I do just that.

Zen Oleary
June 7, 2003

Al Larus ~ NDS    


Rooster crying come time, stay time, lost time this time dance  through the yellow of a sunshine field.   Ravens call above the moors, the row of pearls ties to the oars a fortune seekers dream the thread of suffering life ship, life slip  across this sea of love.   Coo clue, deja vu, cosmic laws wayside child of days gone by singing wai wai wai, waibeecaaaause.  

Jan Sultan ~ SufiMystic  


Compiled by Master Tung-Wang
Abbott of Han-hsin monastery in the
Thirteenth year of the Earth Dragon period (898)

My dear friend, the most reverend master Tung-Wang,

Old and ill, I lay here knowing that writing this note will be my last act upon this earth and that by the time you read it I will be gone from this life.

Though we have not seen each other in the many years since we studied together under our most venerable Master, I have often thought of you, his most worthy successor. Monks from throughout China say that you are a true lion of the Buddha Dharma; one whose eye is a shooting star, whose hands snatch lightning, and whose voice booms like thunder. It is said that your every action shakes heaven and earth and causes the elephants and dragons of delusion to scatter helplessly. I am told that your monastery is unrivaled in severity, and that under your exacting guidance hundreds of monks pursue their training with utmost zeal and vigor. I've also heard that in the enlightened successor department your luck has not been so good. Which brings me to the point of this letter.

I ask that you now draw your attention to the young man to whom this note is attached. As he stands before you, no doubt smiling stupidly as he stuffs himself with pickled cucumbers, you may be wondering if he is as complete a fool as he appears, and if so, what prompted me to send him to you. In answer to the first question, I assure you that Wu-Ming's foolishness is far more complete than mere appearance would lead you to believe. As for the second question, I can only say that despite so benumbed a condition, or perhaps because of it, still more likely, despite of and because of it, Wu-Ming seems to unwittingly and accidentally serve the function of a great Bodhisattva. Perhaps he can be of service to you.

Allow him sixteen hours of sleep daily and provide him with lots of pickled cucumbers and Wu-Ming will always be happy. Expect nothing of him and you will be happy.



After Chin-mang's funeral, the supporters of his temple arranged for Wu-Ming's journey to Han-hsin monastery, where I resided, then, as now, as Abbott. A monk found Wu-ming at the monastery gate and seeing a note bearing my name pinned to his robe, led him to my quarters.

Customarily, when first presenting himself to the Abbott, a newly arrived monk will prostrate himself three times and ask respectfully to be accepted as a student. And so I was taken somewhat by surprise when Wu-ming walked into the room, took a pickled cucumber from the jar under his arm, stuffed it whole into his mouth, and happily munching away, broke into the toothless imbecilic grin that would one day become legendary. Taking a casual glance around the room, he smacked his lips loudly and said, "What's for lunch?"

After reading dear old Chin Mang's note, I called in the head monk and asked that he show my new student to the monk's quarters. When they had gone I reflected on chin-mang's words. Han-hsin was indeed a most severe place of training: winters were bitterly cold and in summer the sun blazed. The monks slept no more than three hours each night and ate one simple meal each day. For the remainder of the day they worked hard around the monastery and practiced hard in the meditation hall. But, alas, Chin-mang had heard correctly, Among all my disciples there was none whom I felt confident to be a worthy vessel to receive the untransmittable transmitted Dharma. I was beginning to despair that I would one day, bereft of even one successor, fail to fulfill my obligation of seeing my teacher's Dharma-linage continued.

The monks could hardly be faulted for complacency or indolence. Their sincere aspiration and disciplined effort were admirable indeed, and many had attained great clarity of wisdom. But they were preoccupied with their capacity for harsh discipline and proud of their insight. They squabbled with one another for positions of prestige and power and vied amongst themselves for recognition. Jealousy, rivalry and ambition seemed to hang like a dark cloud over Han-shin monastery, sucking even the most wise and sincere into its obscuring haze. Holding Chin-mang's note before me, I hoped and prayed that this Wu-ming, this "accidental Bodhisattva" might be the yeast my recipe seemed so much in need of.

To my astonished pleasure, Wu-ming took to life at Han-shin like a duck to water. At my request, he was assigned a job in the kitchen pickling vegetables. This he pursued tirelessly, and with a cheerful earnestness he gathered and mixed ingredients, lifted heavy barrels, drew and carried water, and, of course, freely sampled his workmanship. He was delighted!

When the monks assembled in the meditation hall, they would invariably find Wu-ming seated in utter stillness, apparently in deep and profound samadhi. No one even guessed that the only thing profound about Wu-ming's meditation was the profound unlikelihood that he might find the meditation posture, legs folded into the lotus position, back erect and centered, to be so wonderfully conducive to the long hours of sleep he so enjoyed.

Day after day and month after month, as the monks struggled to meet the physical and spiritual demands of monastery life, Wu-ming, with a grin and a whistle, sailed through it all effortlessly. Even though, if the truth be told, Wu-ming's Zen practice was without the slightest merit, by way of outward appearance he was judged by all to be a monk of great accomplishment and perfect discipline. Of course . I could have dispelled this misconception easily enough, but I sensed that Wu-ming's unique brand of magic was taking effect and I was not about to throw away this most absurdly skillful of means.

By turns the monks were jealous, perplexed, hostile, humbled and inspired by what they presumed to be Wu-ming's great attainment. Of course it never occurred to Wu-ming that his or anyone else's behavior required such judgments, for they are the workings of a far more sophisticated nature than his own mind was capable. Indeed, everything about him was so obvious and simple that others thought him unfathomably subtle.

Wu-ming's inscrutable presence had a tremendously unsettling effect on the lives of the monks, and undercut the web of rationalizations that so often accompanies such upset. His utter obviousness rendered him unintelligible and immune to the social pretensions of others. Attempts of flattery and invectives alike were met with the same uncomprehending grin, a grin the monks felt to be the very cutting edge of the sword of Perfect Wisdom. Finding no relief or diversion in such interchange, they were forced to seek out the source and resolution of their anguish each within his own mind. More importantly, and absurdly, Wu-ming caused to arise in the monks the unconquerable determination to fully penetrate the teaching "The Great Way is without difficulty" which they felt he embodied.

Though in the course of my lifetime I have encountered many of the most venerable progenitors of the Tathagata's teaching, never have I met one so skilled at awakening others to their intrinsic Buddhahood as this wonderful fool Wu-ming. His spiritual non-sequiturs were as sparks, lighting the flame of illuminating wisdom in the minds of many who engaged him in dialogue.

Once a monk approached Wu-ming and asked in all earnestness, "In the whole universe, what is it that is most wonderful?" Without hesitation Wu-ming stuck a cucumber before the monks face and exclaimed, "There is nothing more wonderful than this!" At that the monk crashed through the dualism of subject and object, "The whole universe is pickled cucumber; a pickled cucumber is the whole universe!" Wu-ming simply chuckled and said, "Stop talking nonsense. A cucumber is a cucumber; the whole universe is the whole universe. What could be more obvious?" The monk, penetrating the perfect phenomenal manifestation of Absolute Truth, clapped his hands and laughed, saying, "Throughout infinite space, everything is deliciously sour!"

On another occasion a monk asked Wu-ming, "The Third Patriarch said, "The Great Way is without difficulty, just cease having preferences." How can you then delight in eating cucumbers, yet refuse to even take one bit of a carrot?" Wu-ming said, "I love cucumbers; I hate carrots!" The monk lurched back as though struck by a thunderbolt. Then laughing and sobbing and dancing about he exclaimed, "Liking cucumbers and hating carrots is without difficulty, just cease preferring the Great Way!"

Within three years of his arrival, the stories of the "Great Bodhisattva of Han-hsin monastery" had made their way throughout the provinces of China. Knowing of Wu-ming's fame I was not entirely surprised when a messenger from the Emperor appeared summoning Wu-ming to the Imperial Palace immediately.

From throughout the Empire exponents of the Three Teachings of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism were being called to the Capitol, there the Emperor would proclaim one to be the true religion to be practiced and preached in all lands under his rule. The idea of such competition for Imperial favor is not to my approval and the likelihood that a religious persecution might follow troubled me greatly. But an order from the Emperor is not to be ignored, so Wu-ming and I set out the next day.

Inside the Great Hall were gathered the more than one hundred priests and scholars who were to debate one another. They were surrounded by the most powerful lords in all China, along with innumerable advisors, of the Son of Heaven. All at once trumpets blared, cymbals crashed, and clouds of incense billowed up everywhere. The Emperor, borne on by a retinue of guards, was carried to the throne. After due formalities were observed the Emperor signaled for the debate to begin.

Several hours passed as one after another priests and scholars came forward presenting their doctrines and responding to questions. Through it all Wu-ming sat obliviously content as he stuffed himself with his favorite food. When his supply was finished, he happily crossed his legs, straightened his back and closed his eyes. But the noise and commotion were too great and, unable to sleep, he grew more restless and irritable by the minute. As I clasped him firmly by the back of the neck in an effort to restrain him, the Emperor gestured to Wu-ming to approach the Throne.

When Wu-ming had come before him, the Emperor said, "Throughout the land you are praised as a Bodhisattva whose mind is like the Great Void itself, yet you have not had a word to offer this assembly. Therefore I say to you now, teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow." Wu-ming said nothing. After a few moments the Emperor, with a note of impatience, spoke again, "Perhaps you do not hear well so I shall repeat myself! Teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow!" Still Wu-ming said nothing, and silence rippled through the crowd as all strained forward to witness this monk who dared behave so bold a fashion in the Emperor's presence.

Wu-ming heard nothing the Emperor said, nor did he notice the tension that vibrated through the hall. All that concerned him was his wish to find a nice quiet place where he could sleep undisturbed. The Emperor spoke again, his voice shaking with fury, his face flushed with anger: "You have been summoned to this council to speak on behalf of the Buddhist teaching. Your disrespect will not be tolerated much longer. I shall ask one more time, and should you fail to answer, I assure you the consequence shall be most grave. Teach me the True Way that all under heaven must follow!" Without a word Wu-ming turned and, as all looked on in dumbfounded silence, he made his way down the aisle and out the door. There was a hush of stunned disbelief before the crowd erupted into an uproar of confusion. Some were applauding Wu-ming's brilliant demonstration of religious insight, while others rushed about in an indignant rage, hurling threats and abuses at the doorway he had just passed through. Not knowing whether to praise Wu-ming or to have him beheaded, the Emperor turned to his advisors, but they were none the wiser. Finally, looking out at the frantic anarchy to which his grand debate had been reduced, the Emperor must surely have realized that no matter what Wu-ming's intentions might have been, there was now only one way to avoid the debate becoming a most serious embarrassment.

"The great sage of Han-hsin monastery has skillfully demonstrated that the great Tao cannot be confined by doctrines, but is best expounded through harmonious action. Let us profit by the wisdom he has so compassionately shared, and each endeavor to make our every step one that unites heaven and earth in accord with the profound and subtle Tao."

Having thus spoken the Son of Heaven concluded the Great Debate.

I immediately ran out to find Wu-ming, but he had disappeared in the crowded streets of the capitol.

Ten years have since passed, and I have seen nothing of him. However, on occasion a wandering monk will stop at Han-hsin with some bit of news. I am told that Wu-ming has been wandering about the countryside this past decade, trying unsuccessfully to find his way home. Because of his fame he is greeted and cared for in all quarters with generous kindness; however, those wishing to help him on his journey usually find that they have been helped on their own.

One young monk told of an encounter in which Wu-ming asked him, "Can you tell me where my home is?" Confused as to the spirit of the question. The monk replied, "Is the home you speak of to be found in the relative world of time and place, or do you mean the Original Home of all pervading Buddha nature?"

After pausing a moment to consider the question, Wu-ming looked up and, grinning as only he is capable, said, "Yes."

top of page

Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: