July 11, 2019

“Approximately thirteen hundred years ago, in the Tang Dynasty, a practitioner called Mazu Daoyi meditated each day, trying to attain enlightenment. His teacher, the enlightened Master Nan- Yue Hui- Rang, recognized Mazu’s capacity as a dharma vessel and therefore wanted to help him achieve a breakthrough by pointing out instructions. One day, he went to the place where Mazu meditated and asked him, ‘Practitioner, what do you seek by meditating?’ Mazu replied, ‘To become the Buddha.’ Nan-Yue then found a piece of brick outside Mazu’s hut and started grinding it against a rock. Puzzled, Mazu asked, ‘Why are you grinding?’ Nan-Yue said, â’To make a mirror.’ Mazu questioned him, ‘How can grinding a brick make a mirror?!’ Nan-Yue then said, ‘Since grinding a brick cannot make a mirror how could sitting all day make a Buddha?’ Nan- Yue then went on to instruct him: ‘Are you practicing seated Zen or seated Buddha? If practicing seated Zen, Zen is neither sitting nor lying down; if practicing seated Buddha, Buddha is without fixed form. For the dharma is without abiding, there shall be neither accepting nor rejecting. If you try to be seated Buddha, you are killing the Buddha; if you are obsessed with the form of sitting, you have not attained the understanding.’ For Mazu, having heard Nan-Yue’s teaching, it was as if the heavenly elixir had filled his body through the top of his head.” I strive to be diligent in my practice. Am I trying too hard?