WHO CARES WHAT YOU THINK?

A young man went to a Zen master. After practicing for a time the student went off on his own with instructions to faithfully send a letter to the master every month, giving an account of his spiritual progress.

In the first month, the student wrote, “I now feel an expansion of consciousness and experience of oneness with the universe.”

The master glanced at the note and threw it away.

Next month this is what the letter said: “I finally discovered the holiness that is present in all things.”

The master seemed vaguely disappointed.

A month later, the disciple enthusiastically explained, “The mystery of the one and the many has been revealed to my wondering gaze.”

The master yawned.

Two months later another letter arrived: “No one is born, no one lives, no one dies, for the self is an illusion.”

The master threw up his hands in despair,  because each letter was asking for a response, “Is this it? Is this it? Is this it?”

After that, a month passed, then two, three, five, and then a whole year. The master thought it was time to remind the disciple of his duty to keep him informed of his spiritual progress. So he sent the student a letter. The disciple wrote back, “Who cares what you think?”

When the master read those words, a great look of satisfaction spread over his face. “Finally, he got it!”

Source: Based on Jack Kornfield, After the Ecstasy, The Laundry:
How the Heart Grows Wise on the Spiritual Path
(Bantam, 2001) page 119

CONSIDER THIS

Of course I care about what you think and I will listen intently to what you have to say and be present to what you have to share, but regardless of your thoughts and your words of advice, I know that many of life journeys I have to take unassisted.  Some paths are meant to be navigated by me and me alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – to wipe your brow and perhaps give you a pat on the back for reaching the end of your quest unscathed, but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

Some paths are meant to be navigated by you and you alone. There will always be friends at the end of that road – companions to wipe your tears and your sweat, fellow seekers to give you a pat and speak a word of encouragement – but the passage itself is a solitary journey.

 

 

SaveSave

Advertisements

UNTIL I AM TIRED OF DYING

On one of the few occasions that the disciple was able to Skype  the master – who for years has been working with refugees in a remote, far-flung, refugee camp under very difficult and dangerous conditions – a conversation ensued and the disciple asked, “How long will you remain there?”

And the master answered, “Until I am tired of dying.”

Source: Adapted by Philip Chircop from a recently heard story.

CONSIDER THIS

“We ought to learn how to die before we die, so that when we die, we won’t die.” 

“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over. In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.”  John 12:24-25 (The Message)

THE EYES TO SEE

A writer arrived at the monastery to write a book about the Master. “People say you are a genius. Are you?” he asked.

“You might say so,” said the Master with a smile.

“And what makes one a genius?” asked the intrepid reporter.

“The ability to see,” said the Master.

The writer was betwixt and between. Scratching his hair with one hand and rubbing his tummy with the other, he muttered, “To see what?”

The Master quietly replied, “The butterfly in a caterpillar, the eagle in an egg, the saint in a selfish person, life in death, unity in separation, the divine in the human and the human in the divine.”

Source: Based on Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom
(Image; Reprint edition, 1988)  page 206

See also Peter  Van Breeman,  The God Who Won’t Let Go (Ave Maria Press, 2001) page 98

CONSIDER THIS

In the Easter letter before his death, Bishop Klaus Hemmerle of Aachen wrote, “I wish each of us Easter eyes, able to perceive in death, life; in guilt, forgiveness; in separation unity; in wounds glory; in the human, God; in God, the human; and in the I, the You.”

 

 

TO BE SAVED

The disciple asked, “Master, what does it mean to be saved?”

And the master answered, “A piece of bread on the plate in front of a starving person is salvation.” 

Source | Philip Chircop sj
Based on a quotation by German Reformed theologian Jürgen Moltmann

CONSIDER THIS

“Salvation is not something that happens only at the end of a person’s life. Salvation happens every time someone with a key uses it to open a door he could lock instead.”  – Barbara Brown Taylor, Leaving Church (HarperOne, 2012) Page 115

WHERE’S YOUR TEMPER?

A Zen student came to Bankei and said: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper — how can I cure it?”

“Show me this temper,” said Bankei, “it sounds fascinating.”

I haven’t got it right now,” said the student, “so I can’t show it to you.”

“Well then” said Bankei, “bring it to me when you have it.”

“But I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” protested the student. “It arises unexpectedly, and I would surely lose it before I got it to you.”

“In that case,” said Bankei, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you — so it must come into you from the outside. I suggest that whenever it gets into you, you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can’t stand it, and runs away.”

Source | Osho, And the Flowers Showered: The Freudian Couch and Zen
Osho Media International, 2012) page 37

The full story can be found in The unborn: the life and teaching of Zen Master Bankei, 1622-1693 by Bankei, Normal Waddell, translator

CONSIDER THIS

Getting angry and losing our temper is a sign of weakness. If we cannot hold our temper, it ends up hurting us more than the one at whom it was directed at. As the Buddha once said: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Think about that!

BELIEVE IT

The seeker said to God: “Tell me, tell me something I can treasure and remember.”
And God said “I love you. I love you. I love you.”

The seeker replied: “Is that all? Tell me something else.”
And God said “Believe it!”

 Source | As heard during a retreat.

CONSIDER THIS

What would it mean for you if you were convinced that God loves you unconditionally?

LAUGHING AT YOURSELF

There was nothing pompously about the Master. Wild, hilarious laughter prevailed each time he spoke, to the dismay of those who were solemn about their spirituality, and themselves.

Said one disillusioned visitor, “The man’s a clown!”

“No, no,” said a disciple. “You’ve missed the point: a clown gets you to laugh at him, a Master gets you to laugh at yourself.”

Source | Anthony de Mello, One Minute Nonsense,
(Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, 1992Chapter 35

Published in the USA as Awakening: Conversations with the Masters,
(Image, 2003) Chapter 35

CONSIDER THIS

“If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself and if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.” |  Susan Sparks, an ex-lawyer turned comedian and Baptist minister

“We can never truly learn to laugh at ourselves until we learn to accept the things about ourselves that are either impossible or impractical to be changed.” | Jeanne Robertson, humorists