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Zen Koan #18: A Parable – Buddhist Teaching on the Heart of Compassion

Zen Koan #18: A Parable - Buddhist Teaching on the Heart of Compassion Zen Meditation should just be a part of life. Zen people verbalize about viciousness for the reason that when you arouse, the maps that hold your notions are suddenly gone. Our intention in receiving the precepts is not just to bring awareness to behavior, as one might expect, but also to explore, as the thirteenth-century Zen master Dogen Zenji suggests, who we think we are. This is why there are various levels in Zen Buddhism. However, during the vacation, their minds will scatter and their concentration will dissipate.

This is crucial to how Zen Meditation helps us, for the reason that everything we do is colored by our state of mind. For instance, if we feel good, then things seem interesting, and we want to learn; we’re intrigued. If someone needs a demon, a demon will appear; if they need the Buddha, then the Buddha will appear; if someone needs Zen practice, then Zen methods appear. Soon the snores may become hypnotic and repetitive, actually pleasant sounding. You have to hold it just right—not too tight, not too loose.

When it comes to practice, however, it is arduous for us to apply the same principle. Those who tend to talk non-stop generally have difficulty with practice, and also make it difficult for others to practice.

Zen Koan: “A Parable” Parable

Buddha told a parable in 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!

Buddhist Insight on The Heart of Compassion

In Zen Buddhism, the offering ends with the practitioners asking the deities to forgive them for any mistakes in the performance of the procedural, such as improperly reciting the words of the text. With a heart of compassion, a mother should contemplate carefully whether she should continue to be a working mother of a homemaker giving all the fondness and care for the well-being of her child. The American author Marc Ian Barasch writes in Searching for the Heart of Compassion,

At its root meaning of “to suffer with,” compassion challenges our tendency to flinch away from life’s too-tender parts. I know this much: when I acknowledge my own pain, I am much less squeamish about drawing nearer to yours. I see to acquire my compassion piecemeal, hurt by hurt. After a bad sprain and time spent on crutches, I became more sympathetic to the locomotion-impaired – the lame and the wheelchair bound, those who hobbled on canes and walkers.

Perhaps Thomas Aquinas was not far off when he claimed. “No one becomes compassionate unless he suffers.” I take this less as a mandate fro medieval masochism than an indecorous call to embrace our own authentic experience. If we’re not at home with the depth of our feelings, we’re likely to skirt the deep feelings of others.

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Zen Koan #17: Parable of Stingy in Teaching – Buddhist Teaching on Compassion

Zen Koan #17: Parable of Stingy in Teaching - Buddhist Teaching on Compassion The potential for Buddhahood is already within your own nature. However, for the reason that the Dharma body of the Buddha has no self, all sentient beings are identical to this body. Bearing witness has to be done by first entering the state of not knowing. However, as soon as you reach this stage, leave it behind. This uncanny fact—radical individuality within the context of shared understanding—seems to be an indelible feature of Zen.

No matter where they ambulate, they step into shit. When you first set out to practice, you will definitely have a goal in mind. However, today the sitting went very poorly. Don’t pay attention to any phenomenon that occurs to the body; if you are concerned with it, problems will arise. Your mind is at rest within activity. To him it would be ideal if they would just do their job and not have to eat. In the end, you will not have achieved a concentrated mind but an attached mind. There is no affirming, no hope of gaining something back, no probing for gratitude, and certainly no probing for control, influence, or potency.

Precisely for the reason that we want to acquire the Buddha’s insight and merits, we are unable to perceive Buddha nature. The most important thing in practice is to be natural and spontaneous.

Zen Koan: “Stingy in Teaching” Parable

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 begining, Kusuda lost his chance to test the master, so reluctantly he asked if he might receive instruction.

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

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

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

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 yet 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 of life and death.

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

Buddhist Insight on Compassion Ends Separation

One of the fundamental points of the spiritual journey is to endure along the path. After the Buddha was enlightened, he was walking down the road in a very happy state. His compassion terminated the separation. Therefore, you take the attitude that you are willing to dedicate yourself to others. You’re still working with the breath, all these states come, and you try to hold them. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World,

The universe is full of beings, those you know and those who will be forever strangers. The world is made up of those you care for, those who you are indifferent to, and those you fear or dislike. With those you love and care for, your compassion is often unhesitating; you real out to console, support, and encourage without reservation. With those who are strangers, your response may vary. … You listen again to the anguish of the person you resent and find that your history of struggle with him is released, as the hardness of your heart begins to soften. Suddenly you are present in a new way – free of prejudice and fear. It is as if your heart has expanded, revealing all of life in one organism.

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Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood – Buddhist Teaching on Reality

Zen Koan #16: Parable of Not Far from Buddhahood - Buddhist Teaching on Reality The realization of a Zen koan includes a somatic (non-verbal) constituent with variable levels of cognition, and occasionally the understanding includes some emotional aspects. Although the realization includes one or more of these three constituents, no single one of the three is essential to the experience of insight. That’s the kind of role model who embodies the warrior commitment.

Making time for friendship to develop—persevering with the challenges that relationship inevitably brings—respects the value that community plays on our path. These two lines are speaking of the limitlessness of space. But if we fail to optically discern that a merely conventional, superficial purification is very much homogeneous to groping in the dark without the erudition of the import of ease, our spiritual horizon will draw itself within narrow limits like a snail retiring within the shell, and we may lose our pristine, intrinsic, spontaneous liberation and tranquility, which belong to the mind by its own constitution. As opposed to the pure fruition, approach where it is said that primordially here is nothing to purify. We may put ourselves under a nonessential yoke, moving only within a prescribed circle.

There is a paradox here: a universal orientation and an appropriation of the essence of our particular Zen traditions. As perception is free from conception, it is unconfused.

Zen Koan: “Not Far from Buddhahood” Parable

A university student while visiting Gasan asked him: “Have you ever read the Christian Bible?”

“No, read it to me,” said Gasan.

The student opened the Bible and read from St. Matthew: “And why take ye thought for rainment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not, neither do they spin, and yet I say unto you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these… Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”

Gasan said: “Whoever uttered those words I consider an enlightened man.”

The student continued reading: “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.”

Gasan remarked: “That is excellent. Whoever said that is not far from Buddhahood.”

Buddhist Insight on Reality, Practice, and Path

In Zen Buddhism, if one is to do well, it must be done in the minute particulars. It’s true about jobs too; there is not the perfect job. That is how one should think about reality. The flower engagement has no form in practice and path. This set of strategies, if it’s too strong, you can rather cool it out a little by raising energy when you feel yourself being too sleepy or dull, or by working with mercy when the anger is too strong to just witness. The American Buddhist author Claude Whitmyer writes in Mindfulness and Meaningful Work,

All of us are apprenticed to the same teacher that the religious institutions originally worked with: reality. Reality-insight says get a sense of immediate politics and history, get control of your own time; master the twenty four hours. Do it well, without self-pity. It is as hard to get the children herded into the car pool and down the road to the bus as it is to chant sutras in the Buddha-hall on a cold morning. One move is not better than the other, each can be quite boring, and they both have the virtuous quality of repetition. Repetition and ritual and their good results come in many forms. Changing the filter, wiping noses, going to meetings, picking up around the house, washing dishes, checking the dipstick – don’t let yourself think these are distracting you from your more serious pursuits. Such a round of chores is not a set of difficulties we hope to escape from so that we may do our ‘practice’ which will put us on a ‘path’ – it is our path.

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Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother – Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment

Zen Koan #15: Parable of Shoun & His Mother - Buddhist Teaching on the Present Moment Zen’s influence over the culture has spread in part for the reason that Japan’s rulers commenced to patronize Zen hundreds of years ago. Zen was thus adopted by the highest classes, and through them, its principles commenced to shape a range of Japanese arts, divesting away the ostensibly frivolous and engendering meaning with impressively austere metaphors or flicks of the brush.

You have left behind the sense of small self and have entered the state of great self. The reality is that anyone truly involved in one of the practices will at least realize there isn’t any special state of mind. Sapience is a very consequential quality to possess. Sapience is very limpidly spelt out in the edifications of the Buddha, in the Noble Eightfold Path. Right understanding refers to our construal of fundamental truths about life and the world around us. We should endeavor to understand two laws; the Four Noble Truths and the law of cause and effect—karma. This is very rudimental and fundamental to Zen Buddhism.

The temporality of momentariness is thereby understood to reside in its very passing away, in its actual and ineradicable finitude. However, it can be experienced for the reason that if your practice reaches a certain depth.

Zen Koan: “Shoun & His Mother” Parable

Shoun became a teacher of Soto Zen. When he was still a student his father passed away, leaving him to care for his old mother.

Whenever Shoun went to a meditation hall he always took his mother with him. Since she accompanied him, when he visited monasteries he could not live with the monks. So he would built a little house and care for her there. He would copy sutras, Buddhist verses, and in this manner receive a few coins for food.

When Shoun bought fish for his mother, the people would scoff at him, fo a monk is not supposed to eat fish. But Shoun did not mind. His mother, however, was hurt to see others laugh at her son. Finally she told Shoun: “I think I will become a nun. I can be vegetarian too.” She did, and they studied together.

Shoun was fond of music and was a master of the harp, which his mother also played. On full-moon nights they used to play together. One night a young lady passed by their house and heard music. Deeply touched, she invited Shoun to visit her the next evening and play. He accepted the invitation. A few days later he met the young lady on the street and thanked her for her hospitality. Others laughed at him. He had visited the house of a woman of the streets.

One day Shoun left for a distant temple to deliver a lecture. A few months afterwards he returned home to find his mother dead. Friends had not known where to reach him, so the funeral was in progress.

Shoun walked up and hit the coffin with his staff. “Mother, your son has returned,” he said.

“I am glad to see you have returned, son,” he answered for his mother.

“Yes, I am glad too,” Shoun responded. Then he announced to the people about him: “The funeral ceremony is over. You may bury the body.”

When Shoun was old he knew his end was approaching. He asked his disciples to gather around him in the morning, telling them he was going to pass on at noon. Burning incense before the picture of his mother and his old teacher, he wrote a poem:

For fifty-six years I lived as best I could,
Making my way in this world.
Now the rain has ended, the clouds are clearing,
The blue sky has a full moon.

His disciples gathered around him, reciting sutra, and Shoun passed on during the invocation.

Buddhist Insight on The Value of Present Moment

The true elimination of suffering is only concerned with yourself in this present moment. Compassion produces happiness for those who suffer. This is because their nature is uncompounded by the present moment. To work with these forces, along with naming them and being aware of them, you really have to let yourself touch them with your heart. In Zen Buddhism, Remedy violations of every aspect of these and try to confess them. One further point must be addressed. This is the time for parents to practice compassionate joy and value the present moment. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman and American vipassana teacher Jack Kornfield write in Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart,

The present moment is the most profound and challenging teacher we will ever meet in our lives. It is a compassionate teacher, it extends to us no judgment, no censure, no measurement of success and failure. The present moment is a mirror, in its reflection we learn how to see. Learning how to look into this mirror without deluding ourselves is the source of all wisdom. In this mirror we see what contributes to the confusion and discord in our lives and what contributes to harmony and understanding. We see the relationship between pain and its cause on a moment-to-moment level, we see the bond between love and its source. We see what it is that connects us and what it is that alienates us.

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Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road – Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality

Zen Koan #14: Parable of Muddy Road - Buddhist Teaching on Living with Reality Renunciation is not a spiritual destination, nor a heroic experience dependent upon great striving and will. Repudiation is a practice of kindness and compassion undertaken in the midst of the small details and intense experiences of our lives. You’re not endeavoring to document your cognizance. You are endeavoring to practice it. You climb until you are completely exhausted, and suddenly you find yourself on the top of the mountain.

Meditation is only one part of the path to enlightenment. If you use a gentle flame, the rice will be perfect and easy to digest, whereas with a high flame, it will burn before it is done.

This deep mutuality is the essence of the Zen process. It’s been wonderful training for a stubborn person like me, softening me considerably over the years, and expanding my horizons. Nevertheless, you have no cull. Bodies melt into waves. As long as you stay in a state of one mind, nothing can bother, tempt, or excite you. It is only then that you realize that even this one is not ultimate. Likewise, you should not hold on to any experiences that may come up. We don’t have an inordinate quantity of ambitions. We must look after ourselves. In addition, where there is an object there must be a subject, namely, the self.

Zen Koan: “Muddy Road” Parable

Tanzan and Ekido were once traveling together down a muddy road. A heavy rain was still falling.

Coming around a bend, they met a lovely girl in a silk kimono and sash, unable to cross the intersection.

“Come on, girl” said Tanzan at once. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her over the mud.

Ekido did not speak again until that night when they reached a lodging temple. Then he no longer could restrain himself. “We monks don’t go near females,” he told Tanzan, “especially not young and lovely ones. It is dangerous. Why did you do that?”

“I left the girl there,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

Buddhist Insight on A Way to Live with Reality

In Zen Buddhism, everyone ought to try to live without doing harm to any one either in word or in act. The wounded bird by right belongs to the one who saved its life. That is the way to live. The most hazardous, but also the most interesting, is the category where you embellish it without sensing the reality. Life is like an empty bubble, or like a furrow drawn on the water, which immediately disappears again. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

The Buddha taught enlightenment. He did not teach that we will never be depressed. he taught us not to be defeated by it. He did not teach us how to avoid suffering. He taught is to meet affliction and live nobly, so that suffering in not necessarily multiplied. There is suffering enough in the world. He did not put himself above us. he was a man who never claimed divinity. He showed a way to live with reality, with all its alternations and with all the emotions and internal changes that result from them, and to see that this is our path.

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Zen Koan #13: Parable of A Buddha – Buddhist Teaching on True Love and Commitment

Zen Koan #13: Parable of A Buddha - Buddhist Teaching on True Love and Commitment Zen is simply to be consummately alive. Of course, Zen is withal a form of Zen Buddhism, but this is authentically just another way of saying identically tantamount. Zen Buddhism is the way of religious liberation, which finds its inceptions in the experience of enlightenment. It traces its history back to Shakyamuni Buddha, who lived in India twenty-five centuries ago and realized the truth of his life after a long and arduous quest. The method is another way of grasping onto thoughts, but it is a way that allows us to eventually overcome grasping.

The precedent two lines referred to Zen as being illimitable by time. Religion is whatever the individual takes to be his ultimate concern. A kind of cognizance, and for many the world behind Zen arts as well, seemed a divergent perspective from the Western and is one that has appealed to Westerners. That magnetization led to the sprouting of Zen centers in most major countries outside Asia and to a “Zen” cultural influence that has gone far beyond its formal practice, affecting art, architecture, music, poetry, novels, and even brand denominations.

This is another way of describing the totality of space. The previous thought is continually at war with the following thought.

Zen Koan: “A Buddha” Parable

In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha’s precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o’clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. Whenever he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept.

One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is suppposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.

“Hello, brother,” Tanzan greeted him. “Won’t you have a drink?”

“I never drink!” exclaimed Unsho solemnly.

“One who does not drink is not even human,” said Tanzan.

“Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!” exclaimed Unsho in anger. “Then if I am not human, what am I?”

“A Buddha,” answered Tanzan.

Buddhist Insight on True Love and Long-Term Commitment

The Buddha taught the pathway to happiness through body, through speech, through the heart, through the mind—altogether. These remain the guide through life to what is beyond life through long-term commitment, of millions of the human race. Think of the underprivileged person you have ever met, and then before acting asks if or how this act will be of benefit to that person. It is as is said here and elsewhere. Returning good for good is exceptional. That is true love. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Teachings On Love,

True love includes the sense of responsibility, accepting the other person as he is, with all his strengths and weaknesses. If we like only the best things in the person, that is not love. We have to accept his weakness and bring our patience, understanding, and energy to help him transform. The expression “long-term commitment” helps us to understand the word love. In the context of true love, commitment can only be long-term. “I want to love you. I want to help you. I want to care for you. I want you to be happy. I want to work for happiness. But just for a few days.” Does this make sense? We are afraid to make a commitment. We want freedom. But we have to make a long-term commitment to love our son deeply and help him through the journey of life as long as we are alive. We can’t just say, “I don’t love you anymore.” When we have a good friend, we also make a long-term commitment. We need her. How much more so with someone who wants to share our life, our soul, our body. The phrase “long-term commitment” cannot express the depth of love, but we have to say something so that people understand.

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Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman – Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity

Zen Koan #12: Parable of Happy Chinaman - Buddhist Teaching on Human Dignity A mind of equanimity is a mind without distinctions; in other words, there is no rest and no activity. Some people think that Zen advertises moral indifference, that Zen practitioners in general are free to ignore ethical principles. Discombobulating is the raw material of sapience. The problem of being prey to someone else’s power is reinforced, of course, by one’s own infantile desire to be taken care of. There is nothing outside of your mind.

Progress is measured in terms of time, but when faith and mind are not separate, these distinctions are abolished. However, if nothing is real or lasting, what is the point of coming to retreat and practicing Zen? The point is that during the course of practice, you may come to realize that everything around you, as well as whatever you seek out of life, is illusory. Just as fish cannot live without water, compassion cannot develop without agelessness. For the practice of Zen, you must pass the barrier set up by the ancient masters of Zen.

To attain to marvelous enlightenment, you must completely extinguish all the delusive thoughts of the ordinary mind. We run into trouble only when we close down and couldn’t care less—when we’re too cynical or depressed or full of doubt even to bother.

Zen Koan: “Happy Chinaman” Parable

Anyone walking about Chinatowns in America with observe statues of a stout fellow carrying a linen sack. Chinese merchants call him Happy Chinaman or Laughing Buddha.

This Hotei lived in the T’ang dynasty. He had no desire to call himself a Zen master or to gather many disciples about him. Instead he walked the streets with a big sack into which he would put gifts of candy, fruit, or doughnuts. These he would give to children who gathered around him in play. He established a kindergarten of the streets.

Whenever he met a Zen devotee he would extend his hand and say: “Give me one penny.” And if anyone asked him to return to a temple to teach others, again he would reply: “Give me one penny.”

Once he was about his play-work another Zen master happened along and inquired: “What is the significance of Zen?”

Hotei immediately plopped his sack down on the ground in silent answer.

“Then,” asked the other, “what is the actualization of Zen?”

At once the Happy Chinaman swung the sack over his shoulder and continued on his way.

Buddhist Insight on Human Dignity

Buddhism does not support passivity in the face of violence and evil. Beings by karma are bound to the individual human dignity. That blankness is connected with mindfulness. All of these parts are the path and bring a certain joy, certain strength to our practice. You have to relate to your country, its politics, its culture. It came to life after several hundred years of philosophical development. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

Enlightenment means to experience with complete clarity the fact of dukkha – the travail of being born, working, relating to others, growing up, growing old and so on – is part and parcel of human dignity; that all attempts to run away from it are undignified and that this applies just as much to spirituality, psychologically or socially sophisticated forms of escapism as it does to worldly or primitive ones. People are not made happy by an endless supply of pleasures. many rich people are miserable. People are happy when they live noble lives. Misery is not created by lack of pleasure, but by resentment, bitterness, and the degradation of character. Rich people do not generally accumulate their wealth in order to have pleasures. They accumulate wealth because they think this will make them respectable. In this way they hope to set their minds at rest. Of course, in reality quite the opposite often results. The means by which wealth is accumulated often involves action which leaves a stain of guilt that the person never manages to live down.

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Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai – Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength

Zen Koan #11: Parable of Story of Shunkai - Buddhist Teaching on Inner Strength Your first impulse toward spirituality might put you into some particular spiritual scene; but if you work with that impulse, then the impulse gradually dies down and at some stage becomes tedious, monotonous. This is a useful message. Everything is absolute in the sense that there is no separation between you and others, between past and future. In reality, all realms lie within us. The one conveyance is the Buddha Way. She mentally conceived of an expeditious method: Afore she genuinely indicted anything down, she would first skim through the entire test to weed out the answers she did not understand. To be in bondage to your thoughts means to be influenced and carried away by various conditions in your surroundings.

Love can’t be exclusive. It is boundless, empty, open, and free. Spiritual friendship is too. One of them was rejoicing that his term was ending for the reason that the next day someone would be replacing him. Therefore, this interpretation does not hold here. At the tip of a fine strand of hair all the Buddha of the three times and the ten directions are turning the Dharma wheel. When you approach the practice with any expectations, you will not be able to sit well. Neither extreme is salutary.

Zen Koan: “Story of Shunkai” Parable

The exquisite Shunkai whose other name was Suzu was compelled to marry against her wishes when she was quite young. Later, after this marriage had ended, she attended the university, where she studied philosophy.

To see Shunkai was to fall in love with her. Moreover, wherever she went, she herself fell in love with others. Love was with her at the university, and afterwards when philosophy did not satisfy her and she visited the temple to learn about Zen, the Zen students fell in love with her. Shunkai’s whole life was saturated with love.

At last in Kyoto she became a real student of Zen. Her brothers in the sub-temple of Kennin praised her sincerity. One of them proved to be a congenial spirit and assisted her in the mastery of Zen.

The abbot of Kennin, Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was severe. He kept the precepts himself and expected the priests to do so. In modern Japan whatever zeal these priests have lost for Buddhism they seemed to have gained for having wives. Mokurai used to take a broom and chase the women away when he found them in any of his temples, but the more wives he swept out, the more seemed to come back.

In this particular temple the wife of the head priest had become jealous of Shunkai’s earnestness and beauty. Hearing the students praise her serious Zen made this wife squirm and itch. Finally she spread a rumor about that Shunkai and the young man who was her friend. As a consequence he was expelled and Shunkai was removed from the temple.

“I may have made the mistake of love,” thought Shunkai, “but the priest’s wife shall not remain in the temple either if my friend is to be treated so unjustly.”

Shunkai the same night with a can of kerosene set fire to the five-hundred-year-old temple and burned it to the ground. In the morning she found herself in the hands of the police.

A young lawyer became interested in her and endeavoured to make her sentance lighter. “Do not help me.” she told him. “I might decide to do something else which will only imprison me again.”

At last a sentance of seven years was completed, and Shunkai was released from the prison, where the sixty-year-old warden also had become enamored of her.

But now everyone looked upon her as a “jailbird”. No one would associate with her. Even the Zen people, who are supposed to believe in enlightenment in this life and with this body, shunned her. Zen, Shunkai found, was one thing and the followers of Zen quite another. Her relatives would have nothing to do with her. She grew sick, poor, and weak.

She met a Shinshu priest who taught her the name of the Buddha of Love, and in this Shunkai found some solace and peace of mind. She passed away when she was still exquisitely beautiful and hardly thirty years old.

She wrote her own story in a futile endeavour to support herself and some of it she told to a women writer. So it reached the Japanese people. Those who rejected Shunkai, those who slandered and hated her, now read of her life with tears of remorse.

Buddhist Insight on Inner Strength

In Zen Buddhism, there’s something in us, in our nature, which compels us to discover. By that, the meditation will gain the advantage of freshness and grow in inner strength. The opposite of generosity is parsimony, holding back—having a poverty mentality. Mere appearance without assertion and denial does not produce attachment. Hence their inability to see the truth. The American Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chodron writes in Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change,

You build inner strength through embracing the totality of your experience, both the delightful parts and the difficult parts. Embracing the totality of your experience is one definition of having loving-kindness for yourself. Loving-kindness for yourself does not mean making sure you’re feeling good all the time – trying to set up your life so that you’re comfortable every moment. Rather, it means setting up your life so that you have time for meditation and self-reflection, for kindhearted, compassionate, self-honesty. In this way you become more attuned to seeing when you’re biting the hook, when you’re getting caught in the undertow of emotions, when you’re grasping and when you’re letting go. This is the way you become a true friend to yourself just as you are, with both your laziness and your bravery. There is no step more important than this.

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Zen Koan #10: Parable of The Last Poem of Hoshin – Buddhist Teaching on Suffering and Growth

Zen Koan #10: Parable of The Last Poem of Hoshin - Buddhist Teaching on Suffering and Growth Unacknowledged emotions gradually manifested as pain, on an emotional and sometimes physical level. Turning towards them, and accepting them fully, helped to resolve them. What facilities does one get in Nirvana? Looking directly at our thoughts without further elaboration, we find that thought is like a cloud that dissolves into the sky. This source, or Buddha nature, is the ebullient manifestation of great liberation and great sapience.

Repeatedly, we would point out that what we were doing now was fun, and that to be in the present moment had its own value. If you can do this even for a split second, you will transcend the state of emptiness. This training of forbearing conscious endeavor must have exerted an impact on her poetic voice in which any kind of reaction to the happenings in the objective world is curbed, and in which vigorous personal feelings and poetic conceptions are restrained.

All these contrivances of Zen Meditation can avail to reduce the meddling and interference of the mind; in other words, they can avail to reduce the activities of one’s subjectivity. However, should you treat the method in the same way as a wandering thought—putting it down as soon as it appears? No.

Zen Koan: “The Last Poem of Hoshin” Parable

The Zen Master Hoshin lived in China many years. Then he returned to the northeastern part of Japan, where he taught his disciples. When he was getting very old, he told them a story he had heard in China. This is the story.

One year on the twenty-fifth of December, Tokufu, who was very old, said to his disciples: “I am not going to be alive next year so you fellows should treat me well this year.”

The pupils thought he was joking, but since he was a great-hearted teacher each of them in turn treated him to a feast on succeeding days of the departing year.

On the eve of the new year, Tokufu concluded: “You have been good to me. I shall leave tomorrow afternoon when the snow has stopped.”

The disciples laughed, thinking he was aging and talking nonsense since the night was clear and without snow. But at midnight snow began to fall, and the next day they did not find their teacher about. They went to the meditation hall. There he had passed on.

Hoshin, who related this story, told his disciples: “It is not necessary for a Zen master to predict his passing, but if he really wishes to do so, he can.”

“Can you?” someone asked.

“Yes,” answered Hoshin. “I will show you what I can do seven days from now.”

None of the disciples believed him, and most of them had even forgotten the conversation when Hoshin called them together.

“Seven days ago,” he remarked, “I said I was going to leave you. It is customary to write a farewell poem, but I am neither a poet or a calligrapher. Let one of you inscribe my last words.”

His followers thought he was joking, but one of them started to write.

“Are you ready?” Hoshin asked.

“Yes sir,” replied the writer.

Then Hoshin dictated:

I came from brillancy
And return to brillancy.
What is this?

This line was one line short of the customary four, so the disciple said: “Master, we are one line short.”

Hoshin, with the roar of a conquering lion, shouted “Kaa!” and was gone.

Buddhist Insight on Suffering and Growth

Beings are distracted, as if they were in a dream. That is the essence of suffering and growth—spiritually and emotionally. Therefore, with the beloved mind of enlightenment, even if you burn only one incense stick and offer the fragrance to the holy objects and so on, the merit you will gather will be gigantic. Therefore, it is useless to do harm, and certainly, it is proper to bear it. You will find that gradually and almost unnoticed, your attitude begins to change. The British Zen Buddhist author and psychotherapist David Brazier writes in The Feeling Buddha,

Every one of us has our story, and in that story there is suffering. Suffering is terrible, but a story without suffering is dull. The word ‘spirit’ has something to do with the way we encounter adversity. A spiritual life should be a spirited one. The planet on which we live is beautiful, a kind of paradise. Yet, in the midst of the most amazing blessings, grief falls like an unexpected hail storm on a summer day, or like a winter of unexpected severity. Nor is it just the moment of injury that hurts. The pain goes on. The mother who loses a child may mourn for he rest of her life. The losses and separations that we all encourage mark us and make us. Nobody is truly mature who has not suffered.

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Zen Koan #9: Parable of The Moon Cannot Be Stolen – Buddhist Teaching on Letting Go

Zen Koan #9: Parable of The Moon Cannot Be Stolen - Buddhist Teaching on Letting Go The ethical guidelines of the Zen Buddhist tradition invite us to live a life of doting commiseration through restraint and cultivation. We communicate with the world through our bodies, verbalization and minds, and so we are inspirited to explore the intentions and forces that guide our words, actions and pyretic conceptions, and culls, appreciating the puissance they hold to impact on our world in each moment.

The ethical guidelines, undertaken as a Zen Meditation practice, invite us to explore the inchoation of our actions, verbalization, and thought. Shakyamuni Buddha himself devoted forty-odd years to teaching and saving sentient beings. You may be a highly intelligent person who works very hard and has good karmic roots. The second line explains what prevents us. You may think that by putting down the method and relaxing for a while, you are re-charging your energy.

Is there an equivalent to the “Pope” in Buddhism? No mind, or Zen, is a state of non-arising and non-perishing. In working with difficulties—desire, anger, restlessness, doubt, fear which are the Zen traditional hindrances which arise in Zen Meditation—how can one work with them, how can one make one’s spiritual practice so that these become workable?

Zen Koan: “The Moon Cannot Be Stolen” Parable

Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryoken sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow,” he mused, “I wish I could have given him this beautiful moon.”

Buddhist Insight on Letting Go

The great majority of people today allow others to do their thinking for them. Your life would become a lot more alive and precious for you. Against such a misleading statement, one must enter an emphatic protest. Otherwise, there will be mutual cursing and other ramifications. More often than not, the infection is transmitted to progeny as well. Yet the rewards of letting go are infinitely more. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

We believe that it is difficult to let go but, in truth, it is much more difficult and painful to hold and protect. Reflect upon anything in your lives that you grasp hold of – an opinion, a historical resentment, an ambition, or an unfulfilled fantasy. Sense the tightness, fear, and defensiveness that surrounds the grasping. It is a painful, anxious experience of unhappiness. We do not let go in order to make ourselves impoverished or bereft. We let go in order to discover happiness and peace. As Krishnamurti once said, “There is a great happiness in not wanting, in not being something, in not going somewhere.”

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