THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

THE WORLD MIRRORS THE HEART

Su Dongpo prided himself on his wit and liked to debate Master Foyin. One day, over tea, he challenged the master. “Foyin, people think you are an enlightened monk, but to me you just look like a big, stinking pile of worthless dung sitting on your pillow all day long.”

Su Dongpo leaned backward and crossed his arms slyly.

Master Foyin placed his hands in prayer position, “My dear Dongpo, but to me you look like a Buddha.”

Su Dongpo grinned and bid Master Foyin farewell.

When Su Dongpo got home, he was wearing a triumphant smile. His sister asked him what happened.

“Today I outsmarted Master Foyin,”Su Dongpo replied, then recounted the events to her.

“Oh no, brother! I’m sorry to tell you this, but you lost badly,” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you realize that the world mirrors the heart? Master Foyin sees you as a Buddha because he is a Buddha. You see him as a pile of dung. What does that make you?”

Su Dongpo turned beet red. Then, all of a sudden, he became enlightened.

Source: There are many versions of this traditional story, each with their own unique take on the tale. This is the version as told by Qigong master, Jihui (Robert) Peng, in The Master Key: Qigong Secrets for Vitality, Love and Wisdom. (Sounds True, 2014) pages 223-224

CONSIDER THIS

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” —C.G. Jung

“If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part yourself. What isn’t part of ourselves doesn’t disturb us.” Hermann Hesse

“We discover in ourselves what others hide from us and we recognize in others what we hide from ourselves.” —Vauvenargues

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SINGLE HEARTEDNESS

A young but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Zen Master:

“If I work very hard and diligent how long will it take for me to find Zen.”

The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years.”

The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast – How long then ?”

Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”

“But, if I really, really work at it. How long then ?” asked the student.

“Thirty years,” replied the Master.

“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”

Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”

Source: As quoted in Saskia Shakin
More Than Words Can Say: The Making of Inspired Speakers
Ovation Publishers (November 2008)

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Here’s a shorter version of the same story

Student: How long will it take me to learn enlightenment?
Master: Five years.

Student: What if I try real hard?
Master: Ten years.

Source:  Melannie Svoboda
In Steadfast Love: Letters on the Spiritual Life
(Twenty-Third Publications, 2007) page 66

CONSIDER THIS

It is not about working harder, but rather about stepping back and gentle focus.  Stop trying  so hard and instead allow things to happen unto you.

When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skill.
If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous.
If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets –
He is out of his mind!
His skill has not changed. But the prize divides him.
He cares. He thinks more of winning than of shooting—
And the need to win drains him of power.

(Chuang Tzu : 19:4, p. 158)

LISTENING TO BOTH SIDES

The disciple asked the master: “What should a decent and respectful human being do to understand the real-world situation? What makes a human being out-of-touch with reality?”

After a few moments of quiet stillness the master answered: “Always listen wholeheartedly to both sides and you will be enlightened; listen to only one side and you will be left in the dark.”

Source | Unknown.
This rendition is as adapted and retold by Philip Chircop sj.

CONSIDER THIS

I am told that the Chinese symbol for “listening” is made of two main characters, one depicting the ears and the other depicting the heart. To really listen one must not only use both ears but also the heart!  To really listen one be fully present, wholeheartedly, offering undivided attention to the other.

What do you hear when you listen to the one you love or to the one you consider to be your enemy? Are you engaged in active listening?

VIGILANCE

Is there anything I can do to make myself Enlightened?

As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.

Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?

To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.

Anthony de Mello sj, One Minute Wisdom
(Image, 1988) page 11

PONDER AND CONSIDER

  • Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. | Matthew 25:13
  • Are you awake or asleep … distracted or centred and focused?
  • What spiritual exercises do you engage on a daily basis to keep yourself mindful, he artful, alert and attentive?