April 13, 2011

Most of the time, we are occupied by our own judgment. We define the person we see and circumstances we encountered. We live in our own definition. Sad but true. Master Miao Tsan in his new book tells a Koan (story) to let us know why we are who we are and why a flexible mind is the key. “A flexible mind is more adept at absorbing and digesting new concepts, regardless of whether their impact is positive or negative. If the mind is already filled with concepts and beliefs, the habitual tendencies of the mind will attempt to filter and discriminate any new idea that is presented and will trigger reactions as the mind attempts to bridge the old and the new. Take the following koan: A student paid a visit to an enlightened Zen master and asked, ‘What does the Mind look like?’ The master replied, ‘If I told you the truth, you would not believe me.’ The student said, ‘Master, of course I would believe you.’ So the master said, ‘The Pure Mind is like a giant beast with three heads, many arms and legs, and extreme ugliness.’ The student was very surprised by that response because, according to his understanding of the sutra, the Mind should be formless, all-pervasive in the universe and able to manifest all existence. So, he said to the master, ‘What you said is the wrong answer!’ The master replied, ‘As I tried to warn you, if I told you the truth, you would not believe me. Beating the drum in front of your face, you still do not see. The question you ought to ask is why you cannot recognize the present reality.’ There is a Zen phrase, ‘missing what is in plain sight.’ The Zen master tried to give the student a hint of reality based on his direct experiential knowledge of the truth. The master showed him the truth by cutting off his thought so that he could finally turn the mind inward. Unfortunately, the student’s grip on delusion was strong, and he continued to indulge in the falsehood of imagination. An individual who is filled with opinionated thoughts will experience great difficulty illuminating his own nature in order to recognize the truth.”

Fa Hwa