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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