Moss-covered Monk

Moss-covered Monk


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A History of Samurai and Zen (21)


A Brahmin, having troubled himself a long while with reference to the
problem of life and of the world, went out to call on Shakya Muni that he
might be instructed by the Master. He got some beautiful flowers to offer
them as a present to the Muni, and proceeded to the place where he was
addressing his disciples and believers. No sooner had he come in sight of
the Master than he read in his mind the struggles going on within him.

"Let go of that," said the Muni to the Brahmin, who was going to offer the
flowers in both his hands. He dropped on the ground the flowers in his right
hand, but still holding those in his left. "Let go of that," demanded the
Master, and the Brahmin dropped the flowers in his left hand rather
reluctantly. "Let go of that, I say," the Muni commanded again; but the
Brahmin, having nothing to let go of, asked: "What shall I let go of,
Reverend Sir? I have nothing in my hands, you know." "Let go of that, you
have neither in your right nor in your left band, but in the middle." Upon
these words of the Muni a light came into the sufferer's mind, and he went
home satisfied and in joy.

"Not to attach to all things is Dhyana," writes an ancient Zenist, "and if you
understand this, going out, staying in, sitting, and lying are in Dhyana."
Therefore allow not your mind to be a recievable for the dust of society, or
the ashes of life, or rags and waste paper of the world. You bear too much
burden upon your shoulders with which you have nothing to do. Learn the
lesson of forgetfulness, and forget all that troubles you, deprives you of
sound sleep, and writes wrinkles on your forehead.

Wang Yang Ming, at the age of seventeen or so, is said to have forgotten
the day 'on which he was to be married to a handsome young lady, daughter
of a man of high position. It was the afternoon of the very day on which
their nuptials had to be held that he went out to take a walk. Without any
definite purpose he went into a temple in the neighborhood, and there he
found a recluse apparently very old with white hair, but young in
countenance like a child. The man was sitting absorbed in meditation.

There was something extremely calm and serene in that old man's look and
bearing that attracted the young scholar's attention. Questioning him as to
his name, age, and birthplace, Wang found that the venerable man had
enjoyed a life so extraordinarily long that he forgot his name and age, but
that he had youthful energy so abundantly that be could talk with a voice
sounding as a large bell. Being asked by Wang the secret of longevity, the
man replied: "There is no secret in it; I merely kept my mind calm and
peaceful." Further, he explained the method of meditation according to
Taoism and Buddhism. Thereupon Wang sat face to face with the old man
and began to practise meditation, utterly forgetful of his bride and nuptial
ceremony. The sun began to cast his slanting rays on the wall of the temple,
and they sat motionless; twilight came over them, and night wrapped them
with her sable shroud, and they sat as still as two marble statues; midnight,
dawn, at last the morning sun rose to find them still in their reverie.
It was at the age of fortyseven that Wang gained a great victory over the
rebel army, and wrote to a friend saying: "It is so easy to gain a victory over
the rebels fortifying themselves among the mountains, yet it is not so with
those rebels living in our mind."

Tsai Kiün Mu (Saikunbo) is said to have had an exceedingly long and
beautiful beard, and when asked by the Emperor, who received him in
audience, whether he should sleep with his beard on the comforters or
beneath them, be could not answer, since he had never known how he did.
Being distracted by this question, he went home and tried to find out how
he had been used to manage his beard in bed. First he put his beard on the
comforters and vainly tried to sleep; then he put it beneath the comforters
and thought it all right. Nevertheless, he was all the more disturbed by it. So
then, putting on the comforters, now putting it beneath them, he tried to
sleep all night long, but in vain. You must therefore forget your mental
beard that annoys you all the time.

Men of longevity never carried troubles to their beds. It is a well known fact
that Zuio (Shiga) enjoyed robust health at the age of over one hundred
years. One day, being asked whether there is any secret of longevity, he
replied affirmatively, and said to the questioner: "Keep your mind and body
pure for two weeks, abstaining from any sort of impurity, then I shall tell
you of the secret." The man did as was prescribed, and came again to be
instructed in the secret. Zuio said: "Now I might tell you, but be cautious to
keep yourself pure another week so as to qualify yourself to learn the
secret." When that week was over the old man said: "Now I might tell you,
but will you be so careful as to keep yourself pure three days more in order
to qualify yourself to receive the secret?" The man did as he was ordered,
and requested the instruction. Thereupon Zuio took the man to his private
room and softly whispered, with his mouth close to the ear of the man:
"Keep the secret I tell you now, even at the cost of your life. It is this don't
be passionate. That is all."

~Kaiten Nukariya