Thursday, October 29, 2015




There was an old farmer who had worked hard for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. "Such bad luck," they said.

 "Maybe," the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three wild horses. "How wonderful," the neighbors said.

"Maybe," replied the old man.

The following day when the farmer’s son tried to ride one of the untamed horses he was thrown and his leg was broken. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy.

"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.

How non-judgmental the farmer was. Unfortunately, we are used to divide events in our life into "good" or "bad." We judge everything we go through and give it a certain label.

We are basically like the neighbors who visit the farmer in that we don't fully understand the notion of interdependence. In fact, the farmer demonstrates the reality of this life. All is interconnected, there is no good or bad.

Life is a set of different cycles that occur at different stages in our life. However, it's not about the incident that takes places, it's about our perception of it. Like the farmer, we should practice non-judgment, and refrain from labeling events.

"Everything changes"

There once lived a king who was continuously torn between happiness and misery. The smallest things could make upset him one way of another, so happiness easily turned into disappointment.

One day the king sent for a wise man who was reputed for being enlightened. The king said to him, "I want to be like you. Can you bring me something that gives balance in my life? I will pay whatever price you like." The wise man replied, "I may be able to help you, but the price is so great that not even your kingdom would be enough payment for it. Therefore I will give it to you as a gift, if you will honor it." The king gave his assurances, and the wise man left.

A few weeks later the wise man returned, and handed the king a box. The king opened the box, and found a simple gold ring inside. The inscription on the ring read, "Everything changes." "What is the meaning of this?" the king asked. The wise man replied, "Wear this ring always. Whatever happens, before you call it good or bad, touch the ring and read the inscription. That way, you will always be at peace.

Like the king, we are moved by the smallest things. The silliest event, or person, can make us miserable. However, the moment we realize that everything changes, we see life differently. We won't be as attached to the results. Moreover, our reaction will be less intense, and more logical.

"Is that so?"

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a wholesome life. A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. One day the parents discovered the girl was pregnant. She would not confess who the father was, but finally she named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. "Is that so?" was all he would say. When the child was born, the parents brought it to the Hakuin, who now was viewed as an outcast by the village. They demanded that he take care of the child since it was his responsibility. "Is that so?" Hakuin said as he accepted the child.

A year later the girl told her parents the truth that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the market, and not Hakuin. The parents went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, and to get the child back. In yielding the child all Hakuin said was: "Is that so?"

We rarely accept what happens with us but fight it one way or another. Sometimes, we are faced with responsibilities we didn't plan for. Hakuin shows us the importance of accepting responsibilities as part of life. Once we realize that, things will inevitably change.

It doesn't matter what our reputation is, or what others think of us. We are the only ones who truly know ourselves, and the world won't matter as much once we acknowledge our worth.

Monday, October 12, 2015



Mind is the Way

      "However eloquently I may talk about all kinds of things as innumerable as the sands of the Ganges, the mind shows no increase. You may talk ever so much about it, and it is still your mind; you may not at all talk about it, and it is just the same your own mind. Let each of you see into his own mind.”

Those are the words of Mazu Daoyi.

          Mazu Daoyi was a Chinese Zen master who lived from 709 to 788. He is celebrated for initiating Rinzai Zen and championing instant awakening. According to Mazu, seeing into one’s nature meant understanding who you are and what you are, and that realization comes not gradually but suddenly. He declared there was no one way of teaching this truth, and whatever method seemed appropriate at a given moment was the best method.

        According to Mazu, anything was fair in love, in war, and in Zen study. He expressed his Chan not in lofty philosophical terms and foggy wisdom, but in simple, everyday language. He believed there was nothing that could be done to speed up the occurrence of sudden enlightenment, other than use traditional practices to make the psyche as uncomplicated as possible and then wait for the moment to strike.  Interestingly, he did not encourage meditation. Instead, he declared the grasping of truth was the function of everyday mindedness.

          Everyday mindedness is free from intentional action, free from concepts of right-and wrong, free from taking and giving, and free from the finite or the infinite.

          All daily activities—walking, standing, sitting, lying down—response to circumstances as they arise. This is what Mazu referred to as Tao.

          Mazu apparently was the first master who developed tricks for nudging a disciple into the state of "no-thought."  He was an experimenter, and he pioneered a number of methods that were later used by his followers.

        He might ask a novice an unanswerable question and then, while the person struggled for an answer, to shout in his ear hoping to jolt the pupil into a non-dualistic mind state. Another technique was to call out the novice’s name just as that person was leaving the room, a bombshell that seemed to bring the person up short and cause him to suddenly experience his original nature. A similar device was to deliver a student a sharp blow as he pondered a point, using violence to abort reasoning and focus attention completely on reality.

        The scanty records say Mazu's Chan community was an incubator for the greatest thinkers of the eighth century and the setting for some of the finest Chan anecdotes.

        He believed in stories as the perfect Chan teaching device, since they focus the listener to find its meaning in his own inner experience. A sermon may have provided the theoretical basis for an idea, but an anecdote showed the theory in action and made the listener share in a real experience if only vicariously.

        The following two anecdotes are included in the collection of koans called the Wumen Kuan (Japanese, Mumonkan).


          Case 30

          Question: "What is Buddha?" (That is, what is the unworldliness that all seek?)

          Mazu: "Mind is Buddha."

          Case 33

          Question: "What is Buddha?"

          Mazu: "No mind, no Buddha" (That is, unworldliness is in the mind, and for its realization one must realize the mind.)


          Trying to reconcile those seemingly contradictory responses will likely tip your own mind upside down, which is the whole point of shaking it loose.

          Mazu discovered and refined something that seems to have escaped earlier teachers such as Huineng and Huairang, namely, a trigger mechanism for sudden          enlightenment. He originated the use of shouting and blows to precipitate          enlightenment, techniques used in later decades by such masters as Huangbo and Linji, masters who shaped the Rinzai sect.