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#3991 - Monday, August 23, 2010 - Editor: Gloria Lee
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Best Answer to a Question Yet,
By the Universe as Jeff Foster and friend.
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Some Zen Parables
Disciple (to Swamiji) "Swamiji, If this life is an Illusion then Nothing can harm me?"
Swamiji replies: "Yes that is correct."
Disciple: "Then If I harm a Dog he won't bite me?"
Swamiji: "Wrong, The Illusion dog will give you an Illusion of a bite!"
~ ~ ~
Right and Wrong
Author Unknown, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki & Paul Reps, (1968)
When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.
Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him. "You are wise brothers," he told them. "You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave."
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished."
~ ~ ~
Thoroughly Cooked Pastry
A Zen parable
Three scholars on the way to a civil service examination stopped to buy refreshments from a woman who sold pastries. One scholar was calm and quiet while the other two argued over literature. The woman asked where they were going, and the latter two told her. "You two won't pass the exam," she said, "but the other man will."
The results turned out just as the woman predicted, and the two who failed went back to find the woman and ask her if she knew some mystical art to predict the outcome. "No," she said, "all I know is that when a pastry is thoroughly cooked it sits there quietly, but before it's finished it keeps making noises."
~ ~ ~
There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, 'Where are you going?" and the first man replies, I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others."
Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching
~ ~ ~
Immersed in a Sea of Zen Masters
Adaptation from Zen Practice by Will Joel Friedman, Ph.D.
A young seeker and devotee of the Zen Buddhist tradition goes on retreat after retreat, and engages in Zazen or sitting meditation spiritual practice. The Zen master moves almost imperceptivity through the Dojo carrying a hardwood stick. With any frown, sigh, grunt, anxious movement or divided attention or consciousness, the stick swiftly and deftly strikes the aspirant with the pure intent of awakening to present moment attention and honoring ahimsa or non-harming. The practicer, in classic Zen tradition, turns to the Master, bows with folded hands and quietly whispers, "Thank you, Master." This pattern continues for the entire session of three to four hours. The Zen master is helping the devotee come awake.
The story doesn't end here, so here's the rest of the story. After weeks, months, years or decades possibly, a fundamental shift in the one engaged in Zazen meditation slowly occurs. There sometimes comes the day when the inner silence of Presence, the still peace of equanimity and Being itSelf is embodied in the authentic liberated self. This presence is palpable. After some number of extended sessions without any false physical movement, second-guessing or inauthentic behavior, and no use or need to use the stick, the Zen master approaches this one at the conclusion of the mediation time while readying to leave. Quite inconspicuously and almost unnoticeably, the Zen master bows to the aspirant who deeply bows back. Then very quietly the Zen master whispers in this one's ear, "You are welcome to continue Zazen in your own space and you are welcome to come share Zazen here." Again bows are exchanged.
In departing it slowly dawns upon this one that this is graduation day. All dross has been surrendered and all that remains is the Self. This is That and That is This. Each of our Zen masters and teachers, almost without exception, is our nearest, hardest and most challenging people in our lives, and they will remain difficult for us until absolutely nothing sticks in our craw. There are no "how's", methods, techniques, practices or formulas to liberation. Realized Sage Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma or Ammachi) says that Love is her only method, and it manifests as patience, fierceness and compassion to meet the situation presented. Spiritual teacher Ram Dass notes, "All methods are traps," in his book Journey of Awakening.
The Zen Parables website was found thanks to Dave Croce, an alert list reader.
and more Alan Larus photos
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