A wandering monk was walking down the road when he met a Zen master. The monk bowed three times, knelt, and then rose. “Excellent,” said the master, and the two became student and roshi.
Some years later the monk found himself wandering again in search of a master. A master met the monk along the path and the monk bowed three times, knelt, and then rose. “Wrong,” said the master.
In ancient times life was uncertain and misfortune always a step away. Wandering along the path one had to be awake and ready for a sudden rainstorm in the middle of a sunny afternoon.
Buddha held a flower. Mahakashyapa smiled. Excellent!
Only a fool smiles at every flower.
In The Great Chain of Causation as taught by Buddha, each moment is a result and a cause in the destiny stream, and so each moment is pivotal to one’s quality of life.
There is no point to be gained, and perhaps dangerous to be had, by meeting this moment with last moment’s response.
There is no point to be gained, and perhaps dangerous to be had, by meeting this moment with a future response.
Politicians, warlords, and statesmen, would do well to study Zen.
To study Zen means to live beyond all formal learning. No scriptural canon will suffice. Zen has a long hoary history and canon, yet the teachings of Buddha himself tell us that Zen is a transmission beyond that which is fixed or written. This is sometimes expressed in quotes such as: “Drop it;” “If you see the Buddha coming down the road, kill him;” or “Burn the Buddha.” All of this because the value to be had in a universe empty of independence but filled with a relationship can only sustain truth and reality from moment to moment.
Every moment is genuine and to live in harmony with one’s destiny stream is to accord each meeting of every moment a genuine response. Like Buddha’s flower and Mahakashyapa’s smile, one can only respond and then drop it – do not obstruct, and move along the path.
“Master,” said the wandering monk, “this is how I met my last roshi.”
“Do I look like your last roshi?”
“Was it along this road?”
“Drop it!” the master shouted.
The monk was immediately enlightened. He sat down in the middle of the road. Removing one shoe he balanced the shoe on his head.
“Excellent,” said the master, and the two became student and roshi.
What nonsense this is!