Sunday, July 12, 2009

May be

Once upon the time there was an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune.

“Maybe,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

My Thoughts: Accept whatever comes into your life, whether you expected or not. Live every moment. Buddha says "Accept the PAIN". Why should one accept the pain? Because you cannot avoid it. The only thing you can avoid is suffering from pain. Do not allow external world's happenings affect you.

The Other Side

One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier. Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, "Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river"?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, "My son, you are on the other side".

My Thoughts: According to Buddhism, crossing a river is compared to attaining Nirvana. Nirvana is a state of realizing "I" and attaining a spiritual satisfaction of knowing the SELF. To cross the river, a raft called "Dharma" is used. For a person who had attained Nirvana has no purpose to return back to the other side of the river; i.e., the side which ties you with paternal relations, materialistic world, etc. The wise man was reminding/indicating to the young Buddhist that after attaining Nirvana, returning back to home is unnecessary.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The First Principle

When one goes to Obaku temple in Kyoto he sees carved over the gate the words "The First Principle." The letters are unusually large, and those who appreciate calligraphy always admire them as being a masterpiece. They were drawn by Kosen two hundred years ago.

When the master drew them he did so on paper, from which workmen made the larger carving in wood. As Kosen sketched the letters a bold pupil was with him who had made several gallons of ink for the calligraphy and who never failed to criticize his master's work.

"That is not good," he told Kosen after the first effort.

"How is that one?"

"Poor. Worse than before," pronounced the pupil.

Kosen patiently wrote one sheet after another until eighty-four First Principles had been accumulated, still without the approval of the pupil.

Then, when the young man stepped outside for a few moments, Kosen thought: "Now is my chance to escape his keen eye," and he wrote hurriedly, with a mind free from distraction. "The First Principle."

"A masterpiece," pronounced the pupil.

My Thoughts: When a person is bound towards external world, he will be distracted by various happenings around him which includes criticism. When a person is bound towards his internal world, its his it brings out all his capabilities with his own touch/style.

Great Waves

In the early days of the Meiji era there lived a well-known wrestler called O-nami, Great Waves.

O-nami was immensly strong and knew the art of wresting. In his private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public was so bashful that his own pupils threw him.

O-nami felt he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering teacher, was stopping in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see him and told him of his great trouble.

"Great Waves is your name," the teacher advised, "so stay in this temple tonight. Imagine that you are those billows. You are no longer a wrestler who is afraid. You are those huge waves sweeping everything before them, swallowing all in their path. Do this and you will be the greatest wrestler in the land."

The teacher retired. O-nami sat in meditation trying to imagine himself as waves. He thought of many different things. Then gradualy he turned more and more to the feeling of waves. As the night advanced the waves became larger and larger. They swept away the flowers in their vases. Even the Buddha in the shrine was inundated. Before dawn the temple was nothing but the ebb and flow of an immense sea.

In the morning the teacher found O-nami meditating, a faint smile on his face. He patted the wrestler's shoulder. "Now nothing can disturb you," he said. "You are those waves. You will sweep everything before you."

The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.

My Thoughts: The wrestler O-Nami was disturbed by multiple thoughts which had brought him fear of defeat within him which made him to fail in his public bouts. Defeating an opponent requires more inner strength than the strength of body. This can be compared to our normal life. In our life, we need to come across critical situations which requires a lot of internal strength to make it a win-win situation. Only the internal strength make you take the right decision at the right time. Most of them nowadays go against law or dharma when they face critical situations. This is due to the loss of internal strength. At this state FEAR will conquer you. The fear of loosing something will make our mind do unlawful deeds. All negative thoughts will break your inner strength.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Sound of One Hand

The master of Kennin temple was Mokurai, Silent Thunder. He had a little protégé named Toyo who was only twelve years old. Toyo saw the older disciples visit the master's room each morning and evening to receive instruction in sanzen or personal guidence in which they were given koans to stop mind-wandering.

Toyo wished to do sanzen also.

"Wait a while," said Mokurai. "You are too young."

But the child insisted, so the teacher finally consented.

In the evening little Toyo went at the proper time to the threshold of Mokurai's sanzen room. He struck the gong to announce his presence, bowed respectfully three times outside the door, and went to sit before the master in respectful silence.

"You can hear the sound of two hands when they clap together," said Mokurai. "Now show me the sound of one hand."

Toyo bowed and went to his room to consider this problem. From his window he could hear the music of the geishas. "Ah, I have it!" he proclaimed.

The next evening, when his teacher asked him to illustrate the sound of one hand, Toyo began to play the music of the geishas.

"No, no," said Mokurai. "That will never do. That is not the sound of one hand. You've not got it at all."

Thinking that such music might interrupt, Toyo moved his abode to a quiet place. He meditated again. "What can the sound of one hand be?" He happened to hear some water dripping. "I have it," imagined Toyo.

When he next appeared before his teacher, he imitated dripping water.

"What is that?" asked Mokurai. "That is the sound of dripping water, but not the sound of one hand. Try again."

In vain Toyo meditated to hear the sound of one hand. He heard the sighing of the wind. But the sound was rejected.

He heard the cry of an owl. This was also refused.

The sound of one hand was not the locusts.

For more than ten times Toyo visited Mokurai with different sounds. All were wrong. For almost a year he pondered what the sound of one hand might be.

At last Toyo entered true meditation and transcended all sounds. "I could collect no more," he explained later, "so I reached the soundless sound."

Toyo had realized the sound of one hand.

My Thoughts: You cannot produce sound from one hand. Which means, what is left without sound is silence. The thoughtless mind in called silent mind. The WISDOM (Gnan in Hindi) or TRUTH (Sathya is Hindi)can be realized though the silent mind. Silence is the powerful language though which Wisdom/Truth can be explained/realized. Zen monks insists to make your mind a thoughtless one as through this silence they can teach what zen is, to their disciple. You call a 'sound' when you are able to listen to something. If that is so, if you are able to listen to silence (soundlessness) then you can call the silence as soundless sound. 'Listen to the Silence' is what been thought to Toyo.

A Parable

Buddha told a parable in a sutra:

A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

My Thoughts: The traveler must be a zen monk. He wanted to escape from Tiger but not from death. It is his duty to save his own life. But everyone needs to face death if it comes...need not be afraid of it. The man has done all that he can do to escape from Tiger. Now he only needs to enjoy whatever moment he has got.

In life we are always encountered by problems. We need to do all that can be done from end to overcome it and must be ready to face anything after that. "Live Every Moment!"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Stingy in Teaching

A young physician in Tokyo named Kusuda met a college friend who had been studying Zen. The young doctor asked him what Zen was.

"I cannot tell you what it is," the friend replied, "but one thing is certain. If you understand Zen, you will not be afraid to die."

"That's fine," said Kusuda. "I will try it. Where can I find a teacher?"

"Go to the master Nan-in," the friend told him.

So Kusuda went to call on Nan-in. He carried a dagger nine and a half inches long to determine whether or not the teacher was afraid to die.

When Nan-in saw Kusuda he exclaimed: "Hello, friend. How are you? We haven't seen each other for a long time!"

This perplexed Kusuda, who replied: "We have never met before."

"That's right," answered Nan-in. "I mistook you for another physician who is receiving instruction here."

With such a beginning, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive Zen instruction.

Nan-in said: "Zen is not a difficult task. If you are a physician, treat you patients with kindness. That is Zen."

Kusuda visited Nan-in three times. Each time Nan-in told him the same thing. "A physician should not waste time around here. Go home and take care of you patients."

It was not yet clear to Kusuda how such teaching could remove the fear of death. So on his fourth visit he complained: "My friend told me when one learns Zen one loses the fear of death. Each time I come here all you tell me is to take care of my patients. I know that much. If that is your so-called Zen, I am not going to visit you any more."

Nan-in smiled and patted the doctor. "I have been too strict with you. Let me give you a koan." He presented Kusuda with Joshu's Mu to work over, which is the first mind enlightening problem in the book called The Gateless Gate.

Kusuda pondered this problem of Mu (No-Thing) for two years. At length he thought he had reached certainty of mind. But his teacher commented: "You are not in yet."

Kusuda continued in concentration for another year and a half. His mind became placid. Problems dissolved. No-Thing became the truth. He served his patients well and, without even knowing it, he was free from concern over life and death.

Then when he visited Nan-in, his old teacher just smiled.

My Thoughts: When Kusuda asked about Zen, his friend replied "I cannot tell you what it is". This is right. TRUTH cannot be communicated through language. Language can only communicate thoughts not the true feelings. Zen is a practice of getting relieved from thoughts and understand "MU" ie., to understand the meaning or state of "No-Thing". Zen monks say that everything are made on 'nothing'. The most unrevealed secret in this world is to understand nothing. In order to understand Zen you will need to get rid of thoughts. The funny thing is that you can only explain your thoughts through language. How do you explain 'thoughtlessness' state through your language. There exists such a language which is nothing but 'Silence'. Zen can only be understood through practice. All that Zen master teaches may look funny or very simple until to realize what they ACTUALLY meant. Please read "Just Two Words" to understand what I said so far.