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#2080 - Saturday, March 12,
2005 - Editor: Gloria
"Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."
Found at the website
from Daily Dharma by Anipachen
What is the
undercurrent which vivifies the
mind, enables it to do all this work? It is the
Self. So that is the real source of your activity.
Simply be aware of it during your work and do
not forget it. Contemplate in the background of
your mind even whilst working. To do that, do
not hurry, take your own time. Keep the
remembrance of your real nature alive, even
while working, and avoid haste which causes
you to forget. Be deliberate. Practice
meditation to still the mind and cause it to
become aware of its true relationship to the
Self which supports it. Do not imagine it is
you who are doing the work. Think that it is
the underlying current which is doing it.
Identify yourself with the current. If you
work unhurriedly, recollectedly, your work
or service need not be a hindrance.
- Sri Ramana Maharshi
from Along the Way by Sshomi
Companionship with the holy
one of them. Though you're rock or marble,
you'll become a jewel when you reach the
man of heart.
From 'The Direct Path' by Andrew Harvey
The Paradox of the Journey
All major mystical traditions have recognized that there is a paradox at
the heart of the journey of return to Origin.
Put simply, this is that we are already what we seek, and that
are looking for on the Path with such an intensity of striving and passion
and discipline is already within and around us at all moments. The
journey and all its different ordeals are all emanations of the One Spirit
that is manifesting everything in all dimensions; every rung of the
ladder we climb toward final awareness is made of the divine stuff of
awareness itself; Divine Consciousness is at once creating and
manifesting all things and acting in and as all things in various states of
self-disguise throughout all the different levels and dimensions of the
universe. The great Hindu mystic Kabir put this paradox with characteristic
simplicity when he said:
Look at you, you madman, Screaming you are thirsty
And are dying in a desert
When all around you there is nothing but water!
And the Sufi poet Rumi reminds us:
You wander from room to room
Hunting for the diamond necklace
That is already around your neck!
from Allspirit Inspiration by Gill Eardley
Between the pillars of spirit and matter the mind has put up a swing.
There swings the bound soul and all the worlds with not even the slightest rest.
The sun and moon also swing, and there is no end to it.
The soul swings through millions of births like the endless circling of sun and moon.
Billions of ages have passed with no sigh of relief.
The earth and sky swing,
Wind and water swing,
Taking a body, God Himself swings.
From 'Teachings of the Hindu Mystics', © 2001 by Andrew Harvey
Here's your Daily Poem from the Poetry Chaikhana --
|I find you,
Lord, in all Things and in all
By Rainer Maria
Translated by Stephen Mitchell
I find you,
Lord, in all Things and in all
Thought for the Day:
The only valid motivation is love --
THE RECORD OF THE LIFE AND TEACHINGS OF WU-MING
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
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
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
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
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
After pausing a moment to consider the question, Wu-ming looked up and, grinning as only he is
capable, said, "Yes."
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