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Collection of Zen Stories Part 5
and Other Stories

Zen Story 151

When Alexander the Great died, died like a beggar. And he recognized the fact, he had to recognize it, because twice he was told by two great mystics. One was Diogenes, a Greek mystic who lived like Mahavira, but in utter ecstasy, always in a dance, always in celebration.

When Alexander had gone to see him he felt jealous of him. He said that "You are the first man I am feeling jealous of."

Diogenes said, "That is strange, because I have nothing! I am just a beggar and you are one of the greatest kings. You have almost conquered the whole world; soon you will be the greatest conqueror ever. And I have got nothing, no possessions. How you can be jealous of me?"

Alexander said, "Still I feel jealous of you because I may have the whole kingdom of the world, but I don't see any joy in my life. My life is barren, empty, like a desert, no greenery. Not even a single flower has opened up within my being, and I can see in you flowers and flowers. Your heart is in a dance, your each breath is a song. If next time God is kind enough to give me another opportunity, I would like to be born not as Alexander but Diogenes."

Diogenes said, "Then why wait for the next time? You can be Diogenes this very moment!"

But Alexander said, "Right now it is not possible, it is not practical. I am on the conquest of the world. First I have to finish that, then only can I think about it."

Diogenes said. "Remember my words: you will not be able to finish it you will be finished before it. Nobody ever finishes life's work. Life is too short and our ambitions are so big, so many. Our desires are infinite , impossible to fulfill them. And each desire goes on begetting new desires, so don't think that you will be able to fulfill your desires and then you can become a Diogenes. One becomes a Diogenes as a jump; it is a quantum leap."

Thanking him, Alexander went on his conquest. And he has met another mystic in India. His name he remembers in his memoirs as Dandamesh; it must be a Greek form of some Indian name. He wanted Dandamesh to go with him. Dandamesh laughed and refused.

Alexander became angry. He said, pulling out his sword that "If you don't come with me I will cut your head!"

And Dandamesh said, "Please cut it. In fact, I have cut it long before, and when it will fall on the earth you will see falling it on the earth and I will also see falling it on the earth. You are as separate from my head as I am separate from my head. I am a witness to it."

Again Alexander says, "I felt jealous of this man who is not afraid of death at all."

And he died on the way back home; he did not reach home. Diogenes 'prophecy was fulfilled. Just twenty-four hours' journey more and he would have reached. He told to his physicians, "I am ready to give whatsoever you want, but save me for twenty-four hours."

They said, "We cannot save you even for twenty-four seconds. Your life is finished."

He said, "I had promised my mother that I will come back."

The physicians said, "A man who is mortal should not give promises, because tomorrow is never certain."

He died. His last wish was that "My hands should be left hanging out of the coffin."

"Why?" the people asked him. "This is not conventional!"

He said, "Conventional or not conventional, I want everybody to know that I am dying empty handed."



Zen Story 152

It happened in China: When Bodhidharma went to China, a man came to him. He said, "I have followed your teachings: I meditate and then I feel compassion for the whole universe -- not only for men, but for animals, for rocks and rivers also. But there is one problem: I cannot feel compassion for my neighbor. No -- it is impossible! So you please tell me: can I exclude my neighbor from my compassion? I include the whole existence, known, unknown, but can I exclude my neighbor? -- because it is very difficult, impossible. I cannot feel compassion for him."

Bodhidharma said, "Then forget about meditation, because if compassion excludes anybody then it is no more there."

Compassion is all-inclusive -- intrinsically all-inclusive. So if you cannot feel compassion for your neighbor~ then forget all about meditation -- because it has nothing to do with somebody in particular. It has something to do with your inner state. Be compassion! unconditionally, undirected, unaddressed. Then you become a healing force into this world of misery.

Jesus says: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" -- again and again. And he also says: "Love thy enemy as thyself." And if you analyze both the sentences together, you will come to find that the neighbor and the enemy are almost always the same person. "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and "Love thy enemy as thyself." What does he mean? '

He simply means: don't have any barriers for your compassion, for your love. As you love yourself, love the whole existence -- because in the ultimate analysis the whole existence is yourself. It is you -- reflected in many mirrors. It is you -- it is not separate from you. Your neighbor is just a form of you; your enemy is also a form of you.

Whatsoever you come across, you come across yourself. You may not recognize because you are not very alert; you may not be able to see yourself in the other, but then something is wrong with your vision, something is wrong with your eyes.



Zen Story 153

Mahakashyapa became the first patriarch of the Zen tradition. After him there have been six others. Again and again from master to disciple the flame has been transferred in silence. The sixth was a woman, and Bodhidharma was her disciple. Those were the golden days , when a woman, particularly in the East, was not thought to be inferior to man. She could become the master. She transferred her understanding to Bodhidharma and told him, "Your work is to pass over the Himalayas and go to China."

It is a difficult task, first, to go by foot across the Himalayas. It took three years for poor Bodhidharma to reach China. And then the greatest barrier was that he knew nothing of Chinese , it would be difficult even if you knew Chinese , but he managed. He was surrounded slowly, slowly by people who were really thirsty.

All that was happening was that he would sit silently facing the wall. He sat for nine years continuously, and those who wanted to sit would come and sit around him. Just sitting around him without any language, without any communication, some energy started moving. Something started happening to people. Their lifestyles changed, their lives became a grace and a beauty.

After fourteen years Bodhidharma left China and went back to disappear into the Himalayas. He was too old now. You cannot find a better place to disappear than the Himalayas , utter silence, eternal snows which have never melted, thousands of places where nobody has ever reached.

Before leaving he called four of his disciples and told them, "I am leaving, my time has come. This body cannot contain me anymore. Soon my consciousness will open its wings and will be gone. Before it happens, I want to reach to the Himalayas. I have called you four; one of you is going to be my successor. So this is a great test. I am asking the same question to all four. Who is my successor will depend on your answers."

Bodhidharma asked, "What is the essence of my coming from India to China?"

The first man said, "You have come to spread the great experience of Gautam Buddha."

Bodhidharma said, "You are right, but barely. You are just my skin. Sit down."

He looked to the next disciple, who said,"Your coming to China means bringing the very revolution in the innermost being from unconsciousness to consciousness."

Bodhidharma said,"A little better, but still not satisfactory. Sit down."

He looked at the third disciple, and the third disciple said,"You have come to spread that which cannot be said."

Bodhidharma said,"You are far better than the other two. But even saying this much, that nothing can be said about it, you have said something. Just sit down. The first one has my skin, the second one has my bones, you have my flesh."

He looked at the fourth one who had only tears of gratitude and joy and just collapsed at the feet of Bodhidharma without saying a word.

Bodhidharma told him,"You have my very marrow, you are my chosen disciple. What others could not say with their words you have said with your tears. What others could not say with great significant statements, you have stated by your gratitude."



Zen Story 154

I am reminded of a great mystic, Nagarjuna. He used to live naked, and even kings and queens used to touch his feet. He was absolutely a beggar -- he had not even a begging bowl. So while he was visiting the capital the queen presented him with a golden begging bowl studded with diamonds. With tears she asked him not to reject it.

Nagarjuna said, "I will not reject it, I will not hurt your feelings, but it will be very difficult for me to keep it for long -- a naked man, and I have to sleep also. Anybody can steal it. I sleep under the sky, I sleep under a tree ... It is not going to be with me for long."

But the queen said, "It does not matter, I will prepare another better than this. Now it is a question of my prestige. So if it is lost, whenever I see you again you will get another."

Nagarjuna said, "I have no objection."

A thief was hearing all this and said, "My god. A golden bowl worth millions of rupees, studded with diamonds, and this naked man ... it is absolutely unsuitable, it does not fit." So he followed Nagarjuna thinking, "Let this fellow go to sleep ..." Nagarjuna was staying in ruins outside the town where doors were missing, where walls had fallen -- and this thief was hiding behind a wall.

Nagarjuna was watching -- "Somebody is following me. Obviously he cannot be following me to these ruins. He must be following for the begging bowl." Then he saw the thief hiding behind a wall. He threw the begging bowl outside the window and told the man, "Take it. I will not force you to become a thief, I give it to you as a gift."

Do you see how the buddhas behave? "I will not force you to become a thief because that will be my crime, not your crime. I give it to you as a gift. Just take it and run away." The man could not run away, could not believe it. He was almost frozen. He had never seen such a man, who can throw a thing worth millions of rupees just as if it is nothing, and he is saving him from being a thief. He is giving it to him as he would give a friend a gift.

Something triggered in the thief's heart. He said, "Can I come inside and touch your feet and sit by your side just for a few minutes? I have never seen such a man like you."

Nagarjuna said to him, "That was exactly the purpose of throwing the bowl, to bring you in. Come in, sit down."

He followed everything. He asked Nagarjuna, "How could you manage to throw such a precious thing? I am a thief, to be honest. I cannot be dishonest to a man like you. And you have been so compassionate that you don't want me to be a thief, but that is my profession."

Nagarjuna said, "There is no harm, you continue to be a thief. Just remember one thing, that you are a buddha."

He said, "My god, I am a thief and you are telling me to remember that I am a buddha!"

Nagarjuna said, "This is enough. You just try, and I am going to stay for two weeks. You can come anytime, day or night, to give me the result, what happens."

After the third day he was there with the begging bowl, asking Nagarjuna, "Please take it back; otherwise I will be murdered. Now the whole town knows that I have got it. I have been hiding it here and there but it can be protected only by a queen or a king."

Nagarjuna said, "You leave it here, it is not important. What is important is, what happened to the discipline I had given to you?"

He said, "You have given me a tremendous discipline. I first thought, 'It is so easy just to remember that I am a buddha.' But you are very clever, because when I went to steal something, just the remembrance that 'I am a buddha' and I would get frozen, my hands would not move to take anything. For three days I have not stolen a single thing. This is unprecedented in my life. And I don't think that again I will be able to steal. This is a dangerous thing you have said to me, because the moment I find an opportunity to steal something, the remembrance that I am a buddha ... I simply relax, I escape -- it is not right for a buddha. I cannot let you down or let the buddha down."

Nagarjuna said, "That is your problem. But take this begging bowl because somebody will take it, and it does not matter who takes it."

He said, "Forget all about it. Just as you remember, I also remember: I am a buddha."

The very remembrance of who you are is going to transform your whole life. You cannot do anything against your consciousness. You have been doing it because you have been unaware. The only secret is to achieve a recognition that inside you there is a witnessing self. The name of the witnessing self is the buddha. In every act, in every word, just remember your inner being -- its blissfulness, its silence, its grandeur, its eternity - and you cannot be the same man.

This is called the transmission of the lamp. It happens in the intimacy of the master and the disciple. Nothing is said but something is understood. The very energy of the master, the very presence simply penetrates you and awakens you, brings you out of your dreams and your sleep. That is the meaning of the word 'Buddha ': one who is awake.



Zen Story 155



Zen Story 156

A great philosopher of those days, Maulingaputta, came to Buddha. In India in those days it was a very common tradition that teachers would go to other teachers to discuss matters and whoever was defeated would become the disciple of the victorious one.

Maulingaputta had defeated hundreds of teachers and he had come to Gautam Buddha now with five hundred followers to challenge him. This challenge was not antagonistic; this challenge was absolutely in search for truth.

Maulingaputta said with deep respectfulness,"I want to challenge you to have a debate with me."

Buddha said,"There is no problem... but that will not decide anything. You have been discussing with hundreds of teachers and you have been victorious, not because you have the truth but because you are more logical, more argumentative, more sophisticated than the others. It does not mean that you have the truth; it simply means you are better educated , you have done your homework better than the others, you are clever, more intelligent and have a sharper logical capacity. But that does not mean you have the truth."

"Do you want to inquire about the truth or just to have a debate? because with these hundreds of debates, what has happened? You have gathered hundreds of followers and you don't have the truth yourself. Now you have taken responsibility for hundreds of followers. Do you understand what you are doing?"

Those days were of tremendous honesty. Maulingaputta said,"You are right. I don't know as an experience what truth is, but I can argue about anything. I have been trained in argumentation." He was a sophist. Sophists can argue either for or against, it doesn't matter.

Buddha said to Maulingaputta,"If you are really a man in search of truth, then sit down by my side for two years as if you are not - no questions, no communications - and after two years I will remind you that the day has come; now you can challenge me."

At this moment Mahakashyapa, who had been there for thirty years with Buddha, suddenly burst out laughing. The whole gathering of ten thousand monks could not believe it: this man had never spoken a word to anybody, not even to Buddha. He had never come even to touch his feet. He remained sitting far away under his tree. He had monopolized the tree and nobody else could sit there. What had happened that he suddenly started laughing so loudly? Maulingaputta said, "What is the matter?"

Buddha said,"You can ask him yourself."

Mahakashyapa said,"The matter is simple. This man, Gautam Buddha, is cheating you. He cheated me; he told me also to remain silent for two years. Now thirty years have passed, and the question does not arise. My silence has deepened. Now I know who I am. I know the very height of my consciousness. Not that I have found any answer - there is no question and no answer, just a pure clear silence."

"So if you want to ask him, we will all enjoy. You can ask, but this is the time to ask. Don't wait for two years. That's why I laughed: again he is back to his tricks. There are many here who came with the same desire" - Sariputra and Moggalyan and other great philosophers of that time had come with the same desire to discuss - "but this barrier of two years' silence is very dangerous. If you want to ask anything now, right now is the time. That's why I laughed."

Maulingaputta had brought a beautiful lotus flower as a gift for Gautam Buddha. Buddha called Mahakashyapa and gave the lotus flower to him. This is called in the Zen tradition "the first transmission." Nothing has been said, but everything has been heard. Mahakashyapa's silence and his childlike laughter were enough to prove he had found it. The giving of the lotus flower to Mahakashyapa is a certificate.

Being with a master your personality is going to drop just as dead leaves drop. All knowledge that you have borrowed will disappear. You will be as innocent as a child. In this innocence there is no need to say anything.

That's what happened to Maulingaputta. After two years he completely forgot about the time. Those two years were of such silence.... For a few days he counted, then he dropped the idea of counting. For a few days thoughts passed through his mind, but how long can they...? If you are not interested in them, if you are just a mirror, they come like clouds and go away, without leaving any trace behind. After two years he was pure innocence – no question, no answer, no debate, no challenge. Those were all parts of the personality that had melted down in those two years living in the energy field of a buddha.

Buddha himself told Maulingaputta, "Have you forgotten? Today two years are complete. Now if you want to challenge me, if you want to ask any question and discuss anything, I am ready."

Maulingaputta touched Buddha's feet and said, "Mahakashyapa was right. I am no more; who is there to challenge you? I am no more; who is going to ask the question, and who is going to listen to the answer? These two years passed so soon. It seems as if just the other day I had come here. You have done a miracle."

Buddha said, "I have not done anything. Just being in my presence, slowly, slowly your heart starts being in a kind of synchronicity with the master's heart. By and by you melt down in the warmth and love of the master. This has been my experience - that at least two years is the time necessary to complete the process. Forgive me for keeping you waiting for two years, but there is no other way of reaching from heart to heart, from being to being."



Zen Story 157



Zen Story 158

The Chinese emperor Wu came to receive Bodhidharma; his fame had reached before him. But the emperor could not understand the ways of Zen.

The emperor Wu had come from far away, from his capital to the border of China, to receive Bodhidharma. He was shocked at what he saw, because Bodhidharma was carrying one shoe on his head and one shoe was on his foot.

The emperor was a very sophisticated man; he had a great court of very cultured people. This kind of behavior... but just because of his sophistication and culture he could not say anything about it. He was not yet even introduced. He avoided seeing the shoe sitting on Bodhidharma's head.

The emperor asked - because he was the man who had made thousands of Buddha statues in China, had brought one thousand scholars from India to translate in combination with Chinese scholars all the Buddhist scriptures into Chinese. He had done much and converted the whole country into a land of Buddha. Obviously the monks used to say to him,"You have accumulated too much virtue. All these virtuous acts... immense is going to be your reward in the other world." So he asked Bodhidharma, "I have done all these things; what is going to be my reward?"

Bodhidharma said, "You idiot! You will fall directly into hell. You are asking for a reward? The very idea of reward is of greed. The very idea of achieving something is not a reflection of your wisdom."

The emperor was shocked, his court was shocked – but how to get away now? This man is not the right man to bring into the country. Still he asked another question, did not take any note of the insulting language that Bodhidharma had used. He said, "Your Holiness..." and he could not complete his sentence.

Bodhidharma said, "There is nothing holy, nothing unholy. All is empty, just pure nothingness. These divisions of the mind, the sacred and the profane, the holy and the unholy, the saint and the sinner, do not exist as you enter into deeper meditations. All divisions disappear. So don't call me 'your holiness'; I have left behind that kind of childish language of being holy, of being unholy. Be straightforward."

The king said, "My mind continuously remains cluttered with thoughts. I have been reading the Buddhist scriptures, and they all say that unless you are thoughtless and yet perfectly aware you will not find the truth."

Bodhidharma said unexpectedly - he was a very unexpected man, you could not have predicted his behavior - he said, "If that is the problem, come early in the morning. I am not entering China, I am going to live outside in this small temple. You can come early in the morning, at three o'clock. But come alone – no courtiers, no guards, no arms. Just come alone, and I will put all your thoughts aside from your mind. I will bring silence to your mind."

The emperor was very much afraid. This man seems to be almost insane. The whole night he could not sleep, was hanging between whether to go or not to go, alone and that man is so mad, keeping one shoe on his head, calling me 'idiot,' and he has a big staff and he has told me not to bring any arms. He can do anything: he may hit me, he may throw a rock" - he thought all kinds of things.

But by the time of going he felt a great pull: "Whatever he said, however he behaved, he has a tremendous presence and a great magnetic pull. I will risk it."

He went to the temple, and Bodhidharma was waiting for him. Bodhidharma said, "It is a very simple matter. You just sit here and I am sitting in front of you. You see my staff - if I feel that some thought is stubborn and is not leaving you, I will hit your head. Your work is only to watch your thoughts without any judgment. Just be a witness."

The emperor thought, "Perhaps I have taken a wrong step. This man can hit any moment, because my mind is full of thoughts. But let us try, now that I have come. It will look very cowardly to go away." So he sat before Bodhidharma, just watching his thoughts.

The watching of the thoughts implies no judgment, no appreciation, no identification. Just watch as you watch the crowd passing on the road, or you watch the clouds moving in the sky - with no judgment. Your mind is only a screen. A few clouds are moving; you simply watch. You are the watcher, and everything else in the world is the watched.

As the morning sun was rising the whole aura of the emperor changed. Just within two hours there was no thought left. Witnessing is such a fire, the only fire that can bring you to your truth, that can burn all your falsity, all your phoniness. Bodhidharma saw the changing face, a new grace arising. He shook the emperor and asked him, "Is there any thought anymore?"

The emperor fell at his feet and told him, "You certainly did it! I pray you, don't leave China. All those scholars and monks and priests are simply parrots. They go on talking about witnessing and watching, but you have given me the experience. Without teaching me about witnessing you have simply made me a witness. I don't need anything anymore."

The moment you find your witness, you have found your ultimate eternal being. That is your purest consciousness. That makes you a Buddha, and it is everybody's potential.



Zen Story 159

The term Zen is derived from the Japanese pronunciation of the Middle Chinese word (chan), an abbreviation of (channa), which is a Chinese transliteration of the Sanskrit word of dhyana ("meditation") Sanskrit transliteration of the Pali word of( Jhana) is the training of the mind, commonly translated as meditation, to withdraw the mind from the automatic responses to sense-impressions, and leading to a "state of perfect equanimity and awareness.



Zen Story 160

Anuruddha was one of the ten principal disciples and a cousin of Gautama Buddha.

Anuruddha was the son of Sukkodana and brother to Mahanama. Since Amitodana was the brother of Suddhodana, king of the Sakyas in Kapilavastu, Anuruddha was cousin to Siddhartha, (Gautama Buddha).

Anuruddha returned to his home town two years after the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, preaching his ideas to the Sakyan kingdom. Together with his 3 cousins Bhaddiya, Ananda, and Devadatta and their barber Upali, became ordained by the Buddha at the Anupiya Mango Grove.

After the Buddha

Anuruddha was present when the Buddha died at Kusinara. He was foremost in consoling the monks and admonishing their future course of action, reminding them of the Buddha's decree to follow the dharma. As the Buddha was reclining and going through the jhanas, Ananda said to Anuruddha: "The Exalted One has attained final Nibbana, Venerable Sir." Anuruddha, having divine vision, stated that the Buddha was absorbed in the state of "cessation," but had not yet died. Anuruddha was consulted by the Mallas of Kusinara regarding the Buddha's last obsequies.

Later, at the First Buddhist Council, he played a notable role and was entrusted with the custody of the Anguttara Nikaya. Anuruddha died at Veluvagama in the Vajji country, in the shade of a bamboo thicket. He was one hundred and fifteen years old at the time of his death.



Zen Story 161

Fusang: The Discovery of America by Chinese Buddhist Monks in the Fifth Century. Columbus did not discover the Americas.

Jian Qiu Huang May 6, 2018

Could a monk in the fifth century be the first non native to discover the Americas?

Christopher Columbus did not discover the Americas. History is indeed the science of perpetuating a myopic euro-centric opinion of past events.

At the lower end of the renown, La Rambla Mall in Barcelona, Spain is an imposing bronze statue of an Italian explorer.

The 197 feet statue depicts a man with an outstretched arm pointing at the ocean towards the Americas.

The Monumento a Colon constructed in 1888 to honour Christopher Columbus remembered annually in the US as the person who discovered America in 1492.

But Columbus never once set foot on North America. He never claimed to land on the continent. He merely stumbled upon the Bahamas, later Hispaniola, the modern day Haiti and colonised the islands. His mission was not to explore but to exploit the new world in search of gold, expand Spanish imperialism, proof that the world was not flat and spread a version of Christianity.

Why then would Spain honour an Italian who turned out to be a criminal in Hispaniola arrested and brought back in chains to Spain?

Perhaps the colonisation of Hispaniola by Columbus did provide the launchpad for Spain to expand its Empire into the Americas and the Spaniards were eternally grateful. Or maybe it was a case of close-enough-was-good-enough during 15th Century Europe when the Fraternity of Christians were looking for a hero to represent their success in the Americas. In addition to the first landing in America thousands of years ago by original explorers.. the ancestors of native America from Asia via the Bering Strait .. there was a motley collection of first arrivals many centuries before Columbus.

Joining this list was Japanese fishermen first landing in Peru, Jews escaping from Roman persecution in the first Century and Saint Brendan, the Irish Monk in sixth Century.

But none of these has generated more significant debate and controversy than the notion that the Chinese arrived in North America in the fifth Century.

Could a Buddhist Monk named, Hui Shen discovered America in the fifth century?

Joseph De Guignes, a French historian, published 'Recherches sur les Navigations des Chinois du Cote de l'Amerique' in 1761, providing evidence that an unknown Buddhist Monk named Hui Shen sailed east from the East coast of China travelling 20,000 li to reach a place called Fusang. 20,000 Li is equivalent to today's distance between Shanghai and California across the Pacific ocean.

In an 18th Century map provided by Guigneas, this place Fusang was located North Coast of California. Further supporting evidence of this journey was found in the records of a 7th Century 'Book of Liang' by Yao Silian describing an existing Bronze Age civilisation in Fusang.

By 1885, a good three years before the statue erected at Barcelona, Edward P. Vining published his book 'An inglorious Columbus: Evidence that Hui Shan and a Party of Buddhist Monks from Afghanistan Discovered America in the fifth Century'. In his eight-hundred-page book, he went further and provided detail evidence of Hui Shen's journey, further re-igniting the debate started in 1761.

There is no shortage of evidence refuting Columbus' purported discovery, yet despite these overwhelming evidence the annals of history still bestow the first-discovery honour on this man. We can see why history as we know it today, is both myopic and euro-centric.

Perhaps it is only written for Western consumption.

I wish my history teacher knew about this, at least I would be spared from this lifetime lie that is still being told in schools.

Credit: Jian Qiu Huang

HARPER'S Magazine



Zen Story 162



[Admin's note: we are presenting one scholarly idea on why Buddhism declined in India. The authors opines that one of the primary reasons of the decline of Buddhism in India was the hostility it had to face from Vedic/Brahmanical fold. The evidences show that Vedic/Brahmanical proponents continuously staged a negative campaign against Buddhism, which helped to create a negative image of Buddhism in the mass. they persecuted Buddhists, killed Buddhist masters as well as its followers. Most importantly, such propaganda helped to create misconceptions about Buddhism in the mass, which resulted in the gradual decline of Buddhism from India].

"The Brahmanical hostility towards Buddhism was one of the causes of the decadence of Buddhism in India. It is quite true that at a later date the Brahmins accepted Buddha as one of the avataras [admins' note: to defame him] but they never showed their friendly attitude towards the followers of the religion of the Buddha. They always showed their hostility towards them. It is known from different records that even from the time of the Buddha the orthodox Hindus showed their bitter hostility towards him and his religion.

The Khuddakanikaya refers to Kasi Bharadvaja's unfriendly behavior towards the Buddha. It also says that Aggi Bharadvaja described the Buddha as an "outcaste." The samyuttanikaya mentions that thee was non in the village of the Brahmins who gave grain of food to the Buddha. There is a reference in the Dighanikaya to Brahmanas Sonadanda's hesitation to salute the Buddha in public. Because he was afraid of humiliation from his own community. The Dhammapadatthakatha describes that Moggalana was killed by heretics or Brahmanical folllowers. King Gautamiputra Satakarni adopted an anti-Buddhist measures. The king always described himself as "unique Bramana" 'eka brahmana.' He not only "crushed the pride of the Ksatriyas" but also "stopped the missing of caste."

Hiuen-tsang in his account writes that a Satavahana king killed Nagarjuna, the philosopher. This Saatavkahana king has been identified with king Gautamiputra Satakarni, the 'eka brahmana' by L. M. Joshi. The Baudhayana Dharmasutra describes that an asura (demon) who had no good terms with the gods introduced asrama called pravrajya (ascetic ordination). L. M. Joshi states that most probably "the gods" here were the priestly orthodox Brahmins, who always regaded themselves a Bhudevas, "gods on earth." They always showed their bitter hostility towards the Buddha and his followers. In the Ayodhyakanda of the Ramayana the Buddha is referred to as an atheist [and also a thief]. Yajnavalkya says that the very sight of a monk with yellow robes, even in dream, is a bad sign and it is better to avoid him in any way. The Bṛhannaradiyapurana describes that a Brahmin commits a principle (or great) sin if he enters the house of a Buddhist even in times of a great danger. The Agnipurana says that Suddhodana's son, in order to become Buddhist, beguiled demons.

The author of the Vayupurana refers to his contempt for Buddhists. He states, "With white teeth, eyes brought under control, head shaved and red clothes, the Sudras will perform religions deeds." The Vishnu purana mentions the Buddha as a great seducer. He is known as Mayamoha. He "appeared in the world to delude the demons, taught the doctrine of ahimaa and Nirvaṇa and made people devoid of Vedic rites and religion. The followers of Mayamoha were finally destroyed by the gods." The Srimad Bhagavat refers to Buddhism as a Upa-dharma. The drama Mrcchakatika describes that "the Buddhist monks were not held in honor in Ujjaini. It mentions that the very sight of the Buddhist monks is inauspicious and should be avoided as far as possible. Ganesopadhyaya, the great logician, refers to Pracanḍas Pasanadas as Buddhist in his book. Udayana's work was Bauddha-Dhikkara. Thus the name suggests his hostile attitude towards Buddhism.

The Caitanyadaya-Nataka (ch.VII) of Karnapura mentions the Buddhists of the South as Pasanda or villains. There are references to the Buddhist as Pasandas in the Caitanya-caritamrta. It records that the Buddhists, the Mlecchas, the Savaras etc. belonged to the same class. Bu-ston [Tibetan historian] writes that the heretics of other schools became happy to examine Dharmakirti's logical words They were fully satisfied. But, even then, they "fastened his treatises to the tail of a dog and drove the animal in order to destroy them." In order to refute the doctrines of Dinnaga, the Buddhist logician, Uddyotakara, the famous philosopher of Brahminical thought, wrote his book.

Buddhism suffered a great decline owing to the hostile activities of some philosophers of Brahmanical thought and preachers of South India. Kumarila Bhatta was regarded as "the fiercest critics of Buddhism." He "was the strongest protagonist of Vedic ritualism, Brahmanical theology and priestly superiority. C. Elliot states: "The revolution in Hinduism which definitely defeated, though it did not annihilate, Buddhism is generally connected with the names of Kumarila Bhatta (c.750) and Sankhara (c. 800..Kumarila is said to have been a Bramanna of Bihar who abjured Buddhism from Hinduism and raged with ardour of a proselyte against his ancient faith. Tradition represents him as instigating king Sudhanvan to exterminate the Buddhists.." The Slokavarttika throws light on his hostile attitude towards Buddhism. In this work he showed the excellences of the Vedic rites and refuted the doctrines of the Buddha. We are told that Kumarila Bhaṭṭa played a prominent role for the extermination of the Buddhists. Sudhanvan, the King of Ujjain, acted according to his advice and he exterminated them. The Samkharadigvijaya of Madhava and the Samkaravijaya of Anandagiri refers to king Sudhanvan's extermination of the Buddhat at the instigation of Kumarila Bhatta.

Hiuen-tsang in his account records that during his visit to Ujjain he saw a kind who was ruling there. He was not a Buddhist. He was a Brahmin and was well versed in heterodox lore. The Mrcchakaṭika describes that the Buddhist monks were harassed by a brother-in-law of the king of Ujjain. It says, "He beat with blows a newly turned mendicant Samvahaka by name, and treated other bhikṣus as bullocks by passing a nose-string through their nose and yoking the to the cart. The Samkaradigvijaya, the Samkaravijaya, Hiuen-tsang's account and the Mrcchakaṭika refers to the harassment of the Buddhist by the Brahmins of Ujjain. These records indicate that the followers of the Buddha faced a stiff opposition from the Brahmins of Ujjain. The Krala-Utpatti, which discusses the history of Kerala, gives an account of Kumarila Bhatta's role for extermination of the Buddhist from Krala..Gopīnatha Kaviraja says, "Kumarila was one of the most potent forces actively employed in bring about this decline."

Samkharacarya or Samkara was a Brahmin of the South. He did a great job for the glorification of the Vedas and Vedantas. He was against Buddhism. He built Srngeri matha on the exact site of a Buddhist monastery. His biographies refer to his campaigns against the Buddhist and his important role for the extermination of the Buddhists from Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. Owing to his anti-Buddhist activities, Buddhist fell on its evil days. "The Buddhist monasteries began to tremble and the monks began to disperse pell-mell." ...But we get an idea of Samkara's anti-Buddhist activities from a passage in the Brahmasutra-Samkara-Bhasya.

Here Samkara states, "Buddha was an enemy of the people and taught contradictory and confusing things. From the above discussion we conclude that due to bitter hostilities and fierce campaigns of Kumarila Bhatta and Samkara, Buddhism disappeared from many parts of India. The Baudann Stone inscription refers to one Varmasiva who told with great pride that he destroyed an image of the Buddha in the south before his arrival in Bodamayuta in Pancala in the first half of 12th century Ad.

A Chalukya inscription says that Virapurusa, who was a feudatory chief, showed his hostility towards the religion of the Buddha. It was due to him, Buddhism did not proper. He installed Siva-linga on a throne. We know from a record that a Vangala army not only destroyed but burned down a part of the famous monastery of Somapura and one monk called Kurunasrimitra died during this raid. Thus the Brahminical hostility was one of the major causes for the decline of Buddhism in India. As a result we see that Brahminism revived. Gradually, it prospered in may parts of India under the patronage of Uddyotakara, Kumarila, Samkara, Udayana and Vacaspati Misra, the protagonists of Vedism and Bramanic philosophy."

~Excerpted from 'Rise and Decline of Buddhism in India" by Kanai Lal Hazra.

Source: Buddhism is not a branch of Hinduism.

Comment: My guess on the topic is after being prosperous for many centuries, Buddhists were no longer willing to fight and kill to maintain their well being. That's when poorer barbarians will take advantage of Buddhists' complacency. If you look at Roman Empire after achieving great victories and prosperity, they too be come victim to their complacency, Other more hungry barbarians easily came , destroyed and looted their prosperity . Same thing happened to the Hindus in India, the more brutal Mongol invaders came in and ruled them for many centuries before the Muslim came in next. Glad that Buddhists didn't mount a brutal counter attack just to gain control of India again. There are better places for Buddhism to proper; in China, Japan. Korea and now the West. Great religion like Buddhism will never die, they just keep moving on to the next generation of new people



Zen Story 163


[Admins' note: We are presenting a well researched opinion on why Buddhism declined in India. The author states that one of the most potent factors for the decline of Buddhism in ancient India was due to the Vedic/Brahmanical Royal persecution. Buddhist masters/teachers were harassed and murdered. Many monks/nuns were killed and many thousands of Buddhist monuments destroyed or usurped. When we began this campaign, "Buddhism is not a Branch of Hinduism," many readers accused us of disrupting the harmony between Buddhism and Hinduism. However, this is another misconception that we would like to remove. The fact is that Buddhism suffered a lot and declined in ancient India due to Vedic/Brahmanical persecutions. Another point is that If Buddhism was a branch of Hinduism, why would Vedic/Brahmanical Kings and patrons persecute Buddhists? ]


"Royal persecution of Buddhism in India was responsible for the decay of Buddhism in the country. But, according to some scholars, the persecution of the Buddhists by some Brahmanical rulers was the most potent factor which contributed to bring the decline of Buddhism in India.

We are told that Pusyamitra Sunga (c. 187-151 BC), the Bramana ruler, persecuted the Buddhist in a very violent way. Taranatha refers to Pusyamitra as a cruel persecutor of Buddhism. Several Chinese and Japanese historians mention Pusyamitra's name at the head of the list of persecutors. The Puranas state that Brhadratha, the last Maurya Emperor of the Magadha kingdom, was murdered by his commander-in-chief of the forces, Senapati Pusmitra, who captured the throne of Magadha and founded the Sunga dynasty, which ruled for a period of one hundred and twelve years (c. 187-75 BC)..according to Divyavadana and Taranatha, Pusyamitra was a fierce enemy of Buddhism. The former source says that he destroyed stupas, burnt many monasteries from Madhyadesa to Jalandhara in Punjab, and killed many learned monks. He even made an attempt to destroy Kukkutarama, the famous monastery at Pataliputra, but he could not do any harm. But some scholars remark that "he justified his position as head of the Brahmanic reaction by destroying Buddhist monasteries on the one hand and, on the other, he restored the sacrificial ceremonies of the Brahminic faith with the help of some of his contemporary Bramana leders. The performance of two horse sacrifices by Pusyamitra after his wars with Vidarbhaanda the Yavanas possibly indicates that Pusyamitra was a Brahminic in the truest sense of the term.

Hiuen-tsang refers to a king named Vikramaditya. He describes that this king harassed Vasubandhu's teacher Manoratha, a Buddhist philosopher. The king felt so much when he knew that Manoratha gave one lac gold coins to a barber who shaved his head and face. He then arranged a meeting and asked 100 heretical scholars to meet Manoratha in a discussion. He then told them that "if the Buddhist monks failed to prevail, 'they shall be exterminated." "Manoratha defeated 99 heretical scholars, his opponents, but at the time of his discussion with the last opponent the king and several non-Buddhist people shouted in a loud voice and did not allow Manoratha to continue his meeting with his opponent. On seeting it, Manoratha felt sorry and sent a letter to Vasubandhu, his pupil. He wrote that “in the multitude of partisans where is no justice" and he died soon. The Chinese pilgrim describes further that king "Vikramaditya lost his kingdom and was succeeded by a king who showed respect to man of eminence." When the new king ascended the throne, Vasubandhu defeated all heretical teachers. According to scholars, King Vikramadiyta was Skandagupta who assumed the titles of Kramaditya and Vikramaditya.

Another cruel persecutor of Buddhism was Mihirakula (Mihiragula), a tyrant Turuska. According to Taranatha and Buston, he was Turuska who occupied the throne of Kashmir. He was a great enemy of Buddhism, Kalhana, the famous historian of Kashmir and the author of the Rajatarangini, says that from his atrocities he was like a Yama, the god of death. The Kashmirian historian describes further: "One's tongue would become polluted if one attempted to record his cruelties and evil deeds in details." From his account, it is known that Mihirakula played an important part for the development of Brahminism. He was a worshipper of Siva and in Srinagara he built a temple of Siva. He oppressed the Buddhists and he behaved with them very cruelly.

At his instigation not only many Buddhists were murdered but many stupas, caityas, viharas and other Buddhist establishements were destroyed in the Punjab and Kashmir. He regarded the Buddhists "as unrighteous and rebellious." It is said that he "overthrew stupas, destroyed the Sangharamas, altogether one thousand six hundred fundations." We are also told that he killed nine hundred kotis Buddhist followers." R. C. Mitra describes, "in Kashmir, Buddhism had the unique misfortune of having had to suffer organized persecution probably under Mihirakula and occasional oppression as a under Harsa and Kalasa. The Sutra of Face of Lotus gives an account of Mhirakula's hostility towards Buddhism. It says that Mihirakula persecuted the Buddhist monks in Kipin and at his instigation the sacred bowl of the Buddha was broken. From the Fu-fa-tsang-yin- yuanching it is known that Mihirakula demolished many monasteries in Kipin, the Buddhist monks were killed by him and Simha, the 23rd patriarch, was put to death by his order.

A seal of Toramana, another Hunna ruler, was discovered in the ruins of the Ghositarama monastery at Kausambhi. This signifies that the Hunas probably under the leadership of Toramanas destroyed this monastery. From an account of Joseph Edkins it is known that "at the beginning of the sixth century, the number of Indian in China was upward of three thousand..They came as a refugees from Brahminical persecution." It is very probably that owing to the persecution of the Buddhists by the Hunas, those Indians, who were Buddhists, went to China to save themselves from the hands of the Hunas.

From a tradition it is known that Nagarjuna's disciple Aryadeva was murdered by a person whose teacher was a defeated in debate at the hands of Aryadeva. But Aryadeva was a kind-hearted person. He requested his followers to pardon that person who took his life.

The next king who showed his great hostility towards Buddhism was Sasanka, the king of Gauda. L. M. Joshi says, "Among the ancient Indian princes, the most notable example of anti-Buddhist Brahmanical fanaticism after Pusyamitra Sunga is presented by Sasanka.." At his instigation a sacred stone, which had the mark of the foot-prints of the Buddha, in Patliputra, was thrown in the Ganges. He not only uprooted the holy Bodhi-tree at Bodh Gaya, but also in order to destroy it totally, he burnt its remains. A Buddha image from a temple east of the Bodhi-tree was removed by him and in its place, he installed an image of Siva.

The Manjusrimulakalpa refers to Sasdnka's hostilities towards Buddhism and it also corroborates Hiuen-tsang's records. It describes: "Somakhya (Sasanka) of wicked intellect will destroy the image of the Buddha. He, of wicked intellect, enamoured of the words of the Tirthikas, will burn the great Bridge of Dharma as prophesied by the former Buddhas. Then, that angry and greedy evil doer, of false notions, and bad opinion, will bring down all the monasteries, gardens, and cetiyas and the rest-houses of the Nirgranthas."

The life of Hiuen-gsang gives an account of the bitter hostility of the Bramanas of Kanauj towards Buddhism in the reign of Harsa. It says, "the learned Brahmins of Kanauj being jealous of the unusual prominence and favor accorded to the Buddhists by Harsa, set fire to the pavilion built for reception of the Chinese pilgrim and even made an attempt on the Emperor's life." It also mentions further that Bhaskaravarman of Kamarupa "threatened the monks of Nalanda with a behavior similar to that of Sasanka, and with the destruction of the whole monastery unless Hiuen-tsang were peremptorily dispatched to his court."

~ Excerpted from "Rise and Decline of Buddhism in India" Kanhai Lal Hazra.
Source: Buddhism is not a branch of Hinduism.



Zen Story 164


"By having faith, one relies on the Dharma; By having wisdom, one truly knows. Of these two, wisdom is the chief; But faith is its prerequisite."



Zen Story 165

Anuruddha was one of the ten principal disciples and a cousin of Gautama Buddha.

Anuruddha was the son of Sukkodana and brother to Mahanama. Since Amitodana was the brother of Suddhodana, king of the Sakyas in Kapilavastu, Anuruddha was cousin to Siddhartha, (Gautama Buddha).

Anuruddha returned to his home town two years after the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha, preaching his ideas to the Sakyan kingdom. Together with his 3 cousins Bhaddiya, Ananda, and Devadatta and their barber Upali, became ordained by the Buddha at the Anupiya Mango Grove.

After the Buddha

Anuruddha was present when the Buddha died at Kusinara. He was foremost in consoling the monks and admonishing their future course of action, reminding them of the Buddha's decree to follow the dharma. As the Buddha was reclining and going through the jhanas, Ananda said to Anuruddha: "The Exalted One has attained final Nibbana, Venerable Sir." Anuruddha, having divine vision, stated that the Buddha was absorbed in the state of "cessation," but had not yet died. Anuruddha was consulted by the Mallas of Kusinara regarding the Buddha's last obsequies.

Later, at the First Buddhist Council, he played a notable role and was entrusted with the custody of the Anguttara Nikaya. Anuruddha died at Veluvagama in the Vajji country, in the shade of a bamboo thicket. He was one hundred and fifteen years old at the time of his death.



Zen Story 166

There is a beautiful story.

Gautam Buddha comes into a town. The whole town has gathered to listen to him but he goes on waiting, looking backwards at the road.. because a small girl, not more than thirteen years old, has met him on the road and told him, "Wait for me. I am going to give this food to my father at the farm, but I will be back in time. But don't forget, wait for me."

Finally, the elders of the town say to Gautam Buddha, "For whom are you waiting? Everybody important is present; you can start your discourse."

Buddha says, "But the person for whom I have come so far is not yet present and I have to wait."

Finally the girl arrives and she says, "I am a little late, but you kept your promise. I knew you would keep the promise, you had to keep the promise because I have been waiting for you since I became aware.. maybe I was four years old when I heard your name. Just the name, and something started ringing a bell in my heart. And since then it has been so long — ten years maybe — that I have been waiting."

And Buddha says, "You have not been waiting uselessly. You are the person who has been attracting me to this village."

And he speaks, and that girl is the only one who comes to him: "Initiate me. I have waited enough, and now I want to be with you."

Buddha says, "You have to be with me because your town is so far off the way that I cannot come again and again. The road is long, and I am getting old."

In that whole town not a single person came up to be initiated into meditation - only that small girl.

In the night when they were going to sleep, Buddha’s chief disciple Ananda asked, "Before you go to sleep I want to ask you one question: do you feel a certain pull towards a certain space .. just like a magnetic pull?"

And Buddha said, "You are right. That’s how I decide my journeys. When I feel that somebody is thirsty .. so thirsty that without me, there is no way for the person .. I have to move in that direction."

The master moves towards the disciple.

The disciple moves towards the master.

Sooner or later they are going to meet.

The meeting is not of the body, the meeting is not of the mind. The meeting is of the very soul .. as if suddenly you bring two lamps close to each other; the lamps remain separate but their flames become one. Between two bodies when the soul is one, it is very difficult to say that it is a relationship. It is not, but there is no other word; language is really poor.

It is at-oneness.



Zen Story 167

A rich man asked a Zen master to write something down that could encourage the prosperity of his family for years to come. It would be something that the family could cherish for generations. On a large piece of paper, the master wrote, "Father dies, son dies, grandson dies."

The rich man became angry when he saw the master's work. "I asked you to write something down that could bring happiness and prosperity to my family. Why do you give me something depressing like this?"

"If your son should die before you," the master answered, "this would bring unbearable grief to your family. If your grandson should die before your son, this also would bring great sorrow. If your family, generation after generation, disappears in the order I have described, it will be the natural course of life. This is true happiness and prosperity."



Zen Story 168

Somebody comes and insults Gautam Buddha, abuses him. He listens silently and when asked by his disciples, when the man went, "Why did you remain silent?"

Buddha said, "That was his suchness, that was his way of behaving. It was my suchness to remain silent. I'm not holier than that man, I'm not higher than that man, just our suchness is different, our natures differ."

The word tathata is of great profundity. A man who understands what tathata is becomes undisturbed in every situation; nothing can disturb him, he becomes unperturbable. And TATHAGAT means one who has been living moment-to-moment in tathata. Tathagat is one of the most beautiful words possible in any language: one who lives simply according to his nature without being bothered about other people's nature.

Gautam Buddha used to say, "Once I was passing through a forest, and a branch of a tree fell on me. What do you think? Should I beat that branch of the tree because it hurt me, it wounded me?" The person to whom he was talking said, "There is no question of beating the branch; it had no desire to hurt you, it had no desire to fall on you. It was just a natural accident that you happened to be under the tree when the branch fell."

Buddha said, "If somebody insults me, that is also the same. I simply happened to be there and that man was full of anger. If I had not been there he would have been angry with somebody else. It was his nature; he was following his nature. I followed my nature."

And to be in tune with your nature, you certainly become impenetrable, unperturbable. You become so crystallized in yourself that nothing can disturb you.



Zen Story 169

Rabindranath Tagore's father was a great landlord. Their estate consisted of hundreds of towns and thousands of miles, and there was a beautiful river flowing through their estate. Rabindranath often used to go on his small houseboat and live for months on the beautiful river, surrounded by thick forest, in absolute silence and aloneness. One full-moon night, it happened: he was reading a very significant contribution to the philosophy of aesthetics, by Croce.

Croce is perhaps the most significant philosopher who has thought about beauty. His whole life's work was concerned with finding the meaning of beauty -- not truth, not good. His sole concern was with what is beautiful. He thought if we can find what is beautiful we have found what is true, because truth cannot be ugly, and we have found what is good, because the beautiful cannot be evil. A beautiful conception ...and with this foundation he worked his whole life to find out from different angles what beauty is.

Rabindranath himself was a worshiper of beauty. He lived a very beautiful and aesthetic life. He not only created beautiful poetry, but his life itself was a beautiful poem. He was a very graceful man.

On that full-moon night with a small candle inside his houseboat he was reading Croce. In the middle of night, tired from Croce's very complicated arguments, he closed the book and blew out the candle. He was going to his bed to sleep, but a miracle happened. As the small flame of the candle disappeared, from every window and door of the small houseboat, the moon came dancing in. The moon filled the house with its splendor.

Rabindranath remained silent for a moment was such a sacred experience. He went out of the house, and the moon was immensely beautiful in that silent night amongst those silent trees, with a river flowing so slowly that there was no noise. He wrote in his diary the next morning, "The beauty was all around me, but a small candle had been preventing it. Because of the light of the candle, the light of the moon could not enter."

This is exactly the meaning of nirvana. Your small flame of the ego, your small flame of the mind and its consciousness, is preventing the whole universe from rushing into you; hence the word nirvana -- blow out the candle and let the whole universe penetrate you from every nook and corner.

You will not be a loser. You will find, for the first time, your inexhaustible treasure of beauty, of goodness, of truth -- of all that is valuable. Hence, mind cannot be said to reach nirvana; only no-mind is equivalent to nirvana.

No-mind need not reach to nirvana.

No-mind IS nirvana.



Zen Story 170

Ananda lived with Buddha for forty-two years. Nobody else lived with Buddha so long, nobody was allowed to live with him so long. But there was a problem. Ananda was Buddha's cousin-brother, and older than him, and just the Eastern tradition.... Before taking initiation -- Ananda was the elder brother -- and he said to Gautam Buddha, "Siddharth" -- Siddharth was his family name -- "Listen: after initiation, whatever you say I will have to do. I will be your disciple, you will be my master. Right now I am your elder brother, you are my younger brother; whatever I say you have to do. Three things you have to remember -- don't forget them when I become a disciple." It is a beautiful story.

Buddha said, "What are the three things?"

Ananda said, "First, I will always live with you; you cannot send me anywhere else to spread the message. Second, if I want anybody to meet you -- even in the middle of the night -- you cannot say no; that is my personal privilege. And thirdly, I will sleep in the same room where you sleep. Even in sleep, you cannot make me stay in a different place."

Buddha promised, and these three conditions were followed for forty-two years.

But Ananda did not become enlightened. You can understand his pain and his anguish -- people who had come long after him became enlightened, and he remained in his ignorance just the same as before. The day Buddha died he said, "What will happen to me? I could not become enlightened even though I was with you for forty-two years, day in, day out, twenty-four hours a day. Without you, I don't see any hope."

Buddha said, "You don't understand the dynamics of life. Perhaps you will become enlightened only when I am gone; I am the barrier. You take me for granted. The day you had asked those three conditions, I had thought that those conditions were going to be a barrier for you. You cannot forget that you are my elder brother, even now. You cannot forget that you have certain privilege over others. You cannot forget that I have agreed on three conditions only for you, for nobody else. Perhaps my death will help."

Buddha died. And after twenty-four hours, there was a great meeting of all the enlightened disciples to write down whatever Buddha had said in these forty-two years. But the problem was that nobody had been with him continuously for forty-two years except Ananda -- but he could not be allowed in the meeting because he was not enlightened. An ignorant man, unenlightened -- you cannot rely on what he is saying, whether he heard it or imagined it, whether he has forgotten something, whether he has put his own interpretation in it. It is difficult.

And the scene is really tragic. The conference is inside a hall and Ananda is sitting outside on the steps crying, because he lived with Buddha for forty-two years; he knows more than anybody else. Each single moment he remembers, but he is unenlightened. Crying, sitting there outside the hall, something transpired. He had not cried his whole life. With those tears, his ego disappeared; he became like a child.

They opened the door to see whether Ananda was still sitting outside -- because they had told him, "You sit outside. If we need some confirmation from you, we will ask you, but you cannot enter the conference."

They saw a transformed being. The old Ananda, the old egoist was gone. An innocent being with tears of joy... and they all could see the light surrounding him.

They invited him -- "You come in. Now there is no need for us to be worried. But it is strange... you could not become enlightened for forty-two years, and just after twenty-four hours you have attained that state" -- and this was continuously emphasized by Gautam Buddha.

Ananda said, "It was my fault. His death became the death of my ego too."



Zen Story 171

The Vulture Peak (Pali Gijjhakuta or Gadhrakuta,) was the Buddha's favorite retreat in Rajagaha and the scene for many of his discourses. It is located in Rajgir, Bihar, India.

In Buddhist Literature

Vulture Peak Mountain is, by tradition, one of several sites frequented by the Buddha and his community of disciples for both training and retreat. Its location is frequently mentioned in Buddhist texts in the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism and in the Mahayana sutras as the place where the Buddha gave particular sermons. Among the latter are the Heart Sutra, the Lotus Sutra and the Surangama Samadhi Sutra as well as many prajnaparamita sutras. It is explicitly mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, chapter 16, as the Buddha's pure land:

And when the living have become faithful,
Honest and upright and gentle,
And wholeheartedly want to see the Buddha,
Even at the cost of their own lives,

Then, together with the assembly of monks
I appear on Holy Eagle Peak.


Such are my divine powers.
Throughout countless eons,
I have always lived on Holy Eagle Peak
And in various other places.

When the living witness the end of an eon,
When everything is consumed in a great fire,
This land of mine remains safe and tranquil,
Always filled with human and heavenly beings.



Zen Story 172

Consider the Source: Why was Hercules the Buddha's first guardian?

The connection between early Western and Eastern civilizations is far more intimate than most people realize. Indeed, the earliest depictions of the Buddha, from the area around ancient Gandhara in Pakistan, depict him like the statue of a Greek god. Greek culture and influence remained in the areas of Afghanistan and northern India long after Alexander the Great conquered the region; the large Greek population retained the art and philosophy of ancient Greece while marrying into the local population. A beautiful early example of Gandharan art shows the Buddha protected by a hovering Herakles, the Greek hero who the Romans called Hercules.

In his book The Shape of Ancient Thought, the late scholar Thomas McEvilley details astonishing parallels between ancient Greek and Indian philosophy and spirituality. The similarities in outlook between Socrates and Plato on the one hand, and Upanishad-derived beliefs on the other, are far too great to put down to coincidence. For example, McEvilley describes what he calls the "tripartite doctrine of reincarnation" that held sway amongst philosophers and spiritual leaders in both Greece and India, an idea that played a key role in Buddhism's outlook and development. He calls it "tripartite" because it contains three key parts:
1) the process of reincarnation, or rebirth;
2) the moral laws governing this process; and
3) the goal of escape from the cycle.
McEvilley points out that while belief in reincarnation is found in some form in many cultures, this particular three-aspect set of beliefs was unique, indicating a clear link between the two regions.

Plato, who wrote in detail about this process of reincarnation, was the teacher of Aristotle, who in turn was the tutor of Alexander the Great. Alexander's conquests in south Asia may have cemented an already long cultural relationship between East and West. Thereafter, Greeks in south Asia embraced Buddhism, and Indians and Greeks both nurtured the religion’s development. Ashoka the Great's famous monuments, from which we know of his Buddhist empire, were even sometimes written in Greek.

Early Mahayana Buddhism developed in the area where Greek and Indian civilizations came together. I mentioned in a previous blog that early statues at the Dunhuang caves show Gandharan influence. Although the textual evidence of exactly how Buddhism developed in that ancient cultural melting pot are frustratingly absent, the artistic record reveals a profound coming together of East and West in those ancient times.

..Andy Ferguson

Source: Tricycle



Zen Story 173

"There is a very often-quoted saying in the scriptures on spiritual friendship. One day Ananda, his closest disciple, came up to the Buddha and said: 'Lord, I think that half of the of the Holy Life is spiritual friendship, association with the Lovely.' And the Buddha replied: 'That's not so; say not so, Ananda. It is not half of the Holy Life, it is the whole of the Holy Life.

The entire Holy Life is friendship, association with the Lovely.' Now, the Pali word for 'friendship with the Lovely' is kalyanamitta. 'Kalyana' means 'lovely' or beautiful and 'mitta' means 'friend'. So it is often translated as association or affiliation with the Lovely (with a capital L), being an epithet for Ultimate Reality or the Unconditioned.

It is interesting that for years I always used to quote it as: 'Spiritual friendship is the whole of the Holy Life', but the Buddha was making a play on words - he was also saying that it is not just having spiritual friends that is the whole of the Holy Life, but our affiliation, our intimacy with the Lovely, with the Ultimate Truth. These two support each other. Our like-minded companions and associates in spiritual life support our effort, but it is actually our ability to awaken to that which is truly Lovely, to the Wonderful, to Ultimate Reality - that is, in its own way, the very fire of our spiritual life."





Zen Story 174

What is Karma?

Karma is the law that every cause has an effect, i.e., our actions have results. This simple law explains a number of things: inequality in the world, why some are born handicapped and some gifted, why some live only a short life. Karma underlines the importance of all individuals being responsible for their past and present actions. How can we test the karmic effect of our actions? The answer is summed up by looking at
(1) the intention behind the action,
(2) effects of the action on oneself, and
(3) the effects on others.



Zen Story 175


The morning after Philip Kapleau and Professor Phillips arrived at Ryutakuji Monastery they were given a tour of the place by Abbot Soen Nakagawa. Both Americans had been heavily influenced by tales of ancient Chinese masters who'd destroyed sacred texts, and even images of the Buddha, in order to free themselves from attachment to anything. They were thus surprised and disturbed to find themselves being led into a ceremonial hall, where the Roshi invited them to pay respects to a statue of the temple's founder, Hakuin Zenji, by bowing and offering incense.

On seeing Nakagawa bow before the image, Phillips couldn't contain himself, and burst out: "The old Chinese masters burned or spit on Buddha statues! Why do you bow down before them?"

"If you want to spit, you spit," replied the Roshi. "I prefer to bow."

~ One Bird One Stone: 108 American Zen Stories ~

~ Sean Murphy ~


After the Sweden drama, recently a woman in Norway, tore off pages from the Quran and spat on it. This lead to lot of violence. Some time ago a French magazine called Charlie Hebdo published cartoon of Mohammad and this made the people belonging to the so-called religion of peace violent. They shot-dead many cartoonist. Recently the same French magazine published the cartoon of Mohammad again to proclaim the freedom of speech. It is said that this too will lead to violence very soon in France!

In the name of religion people are playing ego-game. First they associate their ego with a person, a book, a theory, a philosophy and if you ridicule those objects then their ego gets hurt. Zen says: identify your ego and stop associating it with such trivial things! No matter how much one is offended, he has no right to kill anyone. The whole effort here is to make it clear that Zen is not for religious people. A religious person doesn't want to search the truth. He just wants a confirmation that whatever he believes is already the truth. Such attitude is STRICTLY not welcome in Zen. If you already know what the truth is then don't come to Zen; rather go to the group where similar like-minded dogmatic people are there!



Zen Story 176

Bodhidharma was born fourteen centuries ago as a son of a king in the south of India. There was a big empire, the empire of Pallavas. He was the third son of his father, but seeing everything -- he was a man of tremendous intelligence -- he renounced the kingdom. He was not against the world, but he was not ready to waste his time in mundane affairs, in trivia. His whole concern was to know his self-nature, because without knowing it you have to accept death as the end.

Bodhidharma got initiated by a woman who was enlightened. Her name was Pragyatara. She told him to go to China because the people who had reached there before him had made a great impact, although none of them were enlightened.

In China, Bodhidharma sat before a temple wall, facing the wall. He made it a great meditation. He would just simply go on looking at the wall. Now, looking at the wall for a long time, you cannot think. Slowly, slowly, just like the wall, your mind screen also becomes empty.

And there was a second reason. He declared, "Unless somebody who deserves to be my disciple comes, I will not look at the audience."

Nine years passed. People could not find what to do -- what action would satisfy him. They could not figure it out. Then came this young man, Hui Ko. He cut off one of his hands with the sword, and threw the hand before Bodhidharma and said, "This is the beginning. Either you turn, or my head will be falling before you. I am going to cut my head too."

Bodhidharma turned and said, "You are really a man worthy of me. No need to cut the head, we have to use it." This man, Hui Ko, was his first disciple.

Finally when he left China, or intended to leave China, he called his four disciples -- three more he had gathered after Hui Ko. He asked them, "In simple words, in small sentences, telegraphic, tell me the essence of my teachings. I intend to leave tomorrow morning to go back to the Himalayas, and I want to choose from you four, one as my successor."

The first man said, "Your teaching is of going beyond mind, of being absolutely silent, and then everything starts happening of its own accord."

Bodhidharma said, "You are not wrong, but you don't satisfy me. You just have my skin."

The second one said, "To know that I am not, and only existence is, is your fundamental teaching."

Bodhidharma said, "A little better, but not up to my standard. You have my bones; sit down."

And the third one said, "Nothing can be said about it. No word is capable of saying anything about it."

Bodhidharma said, "Good, but you have said already something about it. You have contradicted yourself. Just sit down; you have my marrow."

And the fourth was his first disciple, Hui Ko, who simply fell at Bodhidharma's feet, without saying a word, tears rolling down from his eyes. Bodhidharma said, "You have said it. You are going to be my successor."

Bodhidharma was poisoned by some disciple as a revenge, because he had not been chosen as the successor. So they buried him, and the strangest legend is that after three years he was found by a government official, walking out of China towards the Himalayas with his staff in his hand and one of his sandals hanging from the staff -- and he was barefoot.

The official had known him, had been to him many times, had fallen in love with the man, although he was a little eccentric. He asked, "What is the meaning of this staff, and one sandal hanging from it?" Bodhidharma said, "Soon you will know. If you meet my people just tell them that I'm going into the Himalayas forever."

The official reached immediately, as fast as he could, the monastery on the mountain where Bodhidharma had been living. And there he heard that he had been poisoned and he had died... and there was the tomb. The official had not heard about it, because he was posted on the boundary lines of the empire. He said, "My God, but I have seen him, and I cannot be deceived because I have seen him many times before. He was the same man, those same ferocious eyes, the same fiery and wild outlook, and on top of it, he was carrying on his staff one sandal."

Nobody has talked much of the resurrection of Bodhidharma. Perhaps he was only in a coma when they buried him, and then he came to his senses, slipped out of the tomb, left one sandal there and put another sandal on his staff, and according to the plan, he left.

He wanted to die in the eternal snows of the Himalayas. He wanted that there should be no tomb, no temple, no statue of him. He did not want to leave any footprints behind him to be worshiped; those who love him should enter into their own being -- "I am not going to be worshiped." And he disappeared almost in thin air. Nobody heard anything about him -- what happened, where he died. He must be buried in the eternal snows of the Himalayas somewhere.



Zen Story 177



Zen Story 178

What is a Bodhisatta in Buddhism?

Pali Bodhisatta, ("one whose goal is awakening"), in Buddhism, one who seeks awakening (bodhi)..hence, an individual on the path to becoming a buddha. ... Bodhisatta are common figures in Buddhist literature and art.

In the Early Buddhist schools as well as modern Theravada Buddhism, a bodhisattva (Pali: bodhisatta) refers to anyone who has made a resolution to become a Buddha and has also received a confirmation or prediction from a living Buddha that this will be so.

In Mahayana Buddhism, a Bodhisatta refers to anyone who has generated bodhicitta, a spontaneous wish and compassionate mind to attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.



Zen Story 179

How Did Lions Become a Symbol of Buddhism?

Lions are known as the king of the animal kingdom, and are a sign of strength. They are native to Africa and West Asia, and don't come from China; so when and how were they introduced to China?

During the Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu sent Zhang Qian to serve as an ambassador in the Western Regions, also known as Xiyu. Lions were brought back to China during that period, as noted in the Book of the Later Han:

"In the first year of Emperor Zhang of Han, messengers sent lions and fu bas (this can be translated as a unicorn without a horn) to China."

As Buddhism spread eastward to China, the lion gradually began to replace the tiger's original position as king of the animal kingdom. Dogen, a monk during the Song Dynasty, wrote:

When Sakyamuni Buddha was born, he pointed one hand to heaven and one hand to earth and said with a lion's roar: I alone am the honored one in the heavens and on the earth"

Later, Sakyamuni Buddha's dharma was referred to as a lion's roar, implying that his voice was so great and dignified that it could prevent all heresy. Meanwhile, the lion began to play a more important role in Buddhism.

Why are there always a pair of stone lions placed in front of ancient architecture?

With their noble and dignified character making an impression on people, lions became the subject of decorative carving arts in China. Thereafter, stone lions were seen at the imperial tombs during the Han and Tang dynasties, and also in wealthy aristocratic graveyards, inspiring a sense of awe in people visiting the graves.

After the Tang and Song dynasties, stone lions were also widely used by people for guarding their homes against evil spirits and ghosts, while at the same time inviting fortune and good luck into their lives.

The ancients believed that everything is either yin or yang, and that these need to be well harmonized. Therefore, a pair of stone lions were usually placed by the female on the male's right side, based on the yin-yang theory.

The ancients always considered stone lions as a symbol of good luck. In addition to being used for protection against evil spirits, stone lions were also often used as decoration in traditional Chinese architecture.

Translated by Joseph Wu and Monica Song.

Credit: Vision time



Zen Story 180



Zen Story 181

One day, a poor man in Vaishali -- he was a shoemaker -- found in his pond, a lotus flower out of season. He was very happy that he could sell it for a good price because it was not the season, and it was a beautiful lotus flower. He took the flower, and as he was going towards the palace he saw the richest man of the city coming towards him in his golden chariot. Seeing the beautiful lotus flower, the super-rich man stopped the chariot and asked Sudas, "How much will you take for your untimely lotus flower?"

Poor Sudas could not conceive how much. He said, "Whatever you can give will be enough for me. I am a poor man." The rich man said, "Perhaps you don't know but I am going to see Gautam Buddha who is staying outside the city in a mango grove, and I would like this untimely lotus flower to put at his feet. Even he will be surprised with such a gift. I will give you five hundred gold coins."

Sudas could not believe it. He had never dreamt that he would ever have five hundred gold coins. But just then the king's chariot stopped, and the king said to Sudas, "Whatever that rich man is giving you, I will give you four times more. Don't sell it, wait."

Sudas could not believe what was happening. Five hundred gold coins, four times. Two thousand gold coins for a single flower. He asked the king, "I don't understand. What is the reason why you are so interested?"

But the rich man was not to be defeated so easily. He was richer than the king; in fact the king owed much money to him. He said, "It is not right of you. You are the king, but right now we are competitors. I will give four times more than what the king is giving." And this way they went on four times, four times ...and Sudas lost track of how much money. The poor man did not know much arithmetic either; it was going beyond his capacity to count. But one thing he suddenly understood. And he stopped both the men and said, "Wait, I am not going to sell it." They were both shocked and said, "What is the problem? Do you want more?"

He said, "I don't know how much the price has gone to. And I don't want more. I simply don't want to sell it for the simple reason that both of you are going to give it to Gautam Buddha. I don't know anything about him, I have just heard his name. If the man is such that you are fighting to give any amount of money, then I will not miss the chance. I will present the lotus flower to Gautam Buddha. Let him be doubly surprised." From a poor man, who was being offered uncountable money .... But he refused.

Sudas went. The king and the rich man had reached there before and they had already told the story: "We have been shocked by a shoemaker; we have been defeated. He refused to sell it at any price. I was ready to offer him my whole treasury." And then Sudas, walking, arrived, touched Gautam Buddha's feet, and offered his flower at his feet.

Gautam Buddha said, "Sudas, you should have accepted; they were giving you so much money. I cannot give you anything." There were tears in the eyes of Sudas, and he said, "If you can just hold my flower in your hand, it is enough. It is far greater than the whole kingdom. It is far greater than the super-rich man's whole treasury. I am poor, but I am perfectly okay; I earn my livelihood. There is no need for me to be rich. But it will be a historical event remembered for centuries and centuries -- as long as man remembers you, Sudas will be remembered and his flower will be remembered. You just take it in your hand."

Buddha took the flower in his hand ...and this was the time of the morning when he used to give his morning sermon. Everybody was waiting for him to start but rather than starting the morning sermon, he simply went on looking at the lotus flower. Minutes passed, one hour passed. People started becoming restless, thinking, "What has happened? This flower seems to be something magical that he is simply looking at the flower."

At that moment Mahakashyapa, one of the disciples of Gautam Buddha -- who had never spoken, laughed. And Gautam Buddha called Mahakashyapa, and gave the flower to him.

And he said, "It is not only the flower that I am giving to you, I am transmitting to you my whole light, my whole fragrance, my whole awakening. It is a transmission in silence; this flower is only symbolic."

This is the beginning of Zen.

People asked Mahakashyapa, "What happened? Although we were present and we were eyewitnesses, we could not see anything except the flower being given to you. And you touched the feet of Gautam Buddha and went back to your seat again and closed your eyes. What happened?"

Mahakashyapa is reported to have said only one thing: "You ask my master. While he is alive, I have no right to answer." And Gautam Buddha said, "This is a new beginning, of transferring without words my whole experience. One just has to be receptive. And Mahakashyapa, by his laughter, showed his receptivity. You don't know why he laughed. He laughed because in that moment, he suddenly looked into himself and he found that he is also a buddha. And I offered the flower as a recognition -- `I accept your awakening.'"

This man Mahakashyapa was the founder of Zen -- or this situation between Mahakashyapa and Gautam Buddha is the beginning of the river of Zen. But Bodhidharma was such a strong individual that he has almost become the founder, although he came one thousand years later than Mahakashyapa. But he is immensely articulate. He can say things which cannot be said. He can speak the unspeakable. He can find ways and means and devices to bring you back home, to awaken you to your self-nature.



Zen Story 182

Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, also known as "The King of Great Vows" is renowned for His vow to rescue all sentient beings suffering in the lower realms. He also vowed that He will not become a Buddha unless all sentient beings are relieved of their suffering.



Zen Story 183

In the Avatamsaka Sutra, Buddha famously stated Samantabhadra Bodhisattva took ten great vows to complete his path to complete Buddhahood:

1. To pay homage and respect to all Buddhas.
2. To praise the Thus Come One-Tathagata.
3. To make abundant offerings. (i.e. give generously)
4. To repent misdeeds and evil karmas.
5. To rejoice in others' merits and virtues.
6. To request the Buddhas to continue teaching.
7. To request the Buddhas to remain in the world.
8. To follow the teachings of the Buddhas at all times.
9. To accommodate and benefit all living beings.
10. To transfer all merits and virtues to benefit all beings.

These ten great vows became common merit-generating Buddhist practices thanks to Samantabhadra Bodhisattva



Zen Story 184

This is a rare combo picture of 4 Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas being drawn together:

- Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (top),
- Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (2nd row left),
- Manjusri Bodhisattva (2nd row right),
- Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (bottom).

One thing strange is the mythical creature crouching beside Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. What is it?

A top-fan has helped to identify that the mythical creature is a Qilin (or Kirin, identified by its special horns). It is sometimes associated with Sakyamuni Buddha. But though he is not depicted in this picture, maybe he sent his "pet" to participate.



Zen Story 185

Manjusri Bodhisattva, whose name translates to “Gentle Glory” in Sanskrit, is one of the four great Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism.

He is the embodiment of wisdom and is usually represented with a sword in one hand and a sutra of the Perfect Wisdom in the other. He is also usually represented as mounted on a lion.



Zen Story 186

A great king, Bimbisara, had come to see Buddha. He was sitting at Buddha's side talking to him and an old man came, bowed down, touched Buddha's feet, an old sannyasin. And as it was the habit of Buddha to ask, he asked the old man, "How old are you?".

And the old man said, "Just four years old, sir."

Bimbisara could not believe his eyes, could not believe his ears: "This old man who looks almost eighty, if not more, is saying he is four years old?" He said, "Pardon me, sir, can you repeat it again, how old you are?"

The old man again said, "Four years old."

Buddha laughed and said, "You don't know the way we count life: it is four years ago that he became a sannyasin, that he was initiated into the eternal, that he was taken into the timeless. It is only four years ago that he crossed from this shore and reached to the other shore. He has lived for eighty years, but those years are not worth counting; it was a sheer wastage."

Note Sannyasin in Sanskrit means "he renounces"



Zen Story 187



Zen Story 188

It happened:

A great king asked to be initiated by Buddha and became a BHIKKHU, became his sannyasin. But he was just a junior sannyasin; there were elders who had meditated for thirty years, forty years. So where Buddha was staying in a caravansary, the younger sannyasins -- not younger according to age, younger according to the time of initiation.... This king was old and he was a great king, but in the world of Buddha those things don't count, neither the age nor the money nor the kingdom. He was the most junior because just that day he had taken sannyas, so he had to sleep in the porch because there was no other place.

The king could not sleep; it was difficult, and one can understand his difficulty. He had never slept in such a place. And you know Indian mosquitoes... and the king had never experienced mosquitoes. And the ground wa s hard and the bhikkhus use no pillows, just their hands, their arms. He tossed and turned but he could not go to sleep.

In the middle of the night he thought, "What have I done? This seems to be stupid! I should be sleeping in my palace, I had everything. This seems to be pointless. Tomorrow morning the first thing I am going to do is to ask permission of the master: 'Please excuse me. I cannot tolerate such unnecessary misery. I am going back to my palace.'"

But in the middle of the night Buddha came out and he said, "Why wait for the morning? If you want to drop sannyas, drop it right now! Why suffer the whole night?"

The king was amazed. He had not said it to anybody -- there was nobody else, he was alone in the porch. He said, "But how did you come to know? It was just a thought in me."

Buddha said, "If your thoughts disappear you can start seeing others' thoughts because others' thoughts are then like things. It is because of your thoughts that you cannot see others' thoughts. You are so covered with your own thoughts that there is no space for others' thoughts. But you please go!"

The king said, "Now I cannot go. How can I leave such a master?"

Buddha said, "But my suggestion is still this, because you w ill again think of leaving. You had better leave. Only one thing I have to remind you of: you took sannyas in your past life too -- and the same difficulty was there, and you renounced sannyas. Now the same difficulty has arisen and it will arise again and again. You have not learned anything from your past life."

As Buddha was saying this, the man suddenly felt a tremendous upsurge of the memories of the past life. He could see, he could remember that yes, this had happened. The whole situation was the same. The master was different, the caravansary was different, the mosquitoes must have been different, but the king was the same person and the difficulty was the same.

The king said, "That's enough, now I am not going to leave; I am going to stick to it. Now whatsoever happens.... I have lived in palaces many times and I have not gained anything so I am not going to waste this life anymore."

And he became enlightened one day. He persisted; a great perseverance must have been needed.



Zen Story 189


Even if you can explain thousands of sutras and shastras, unless you see your own nature yours is the teaching of a mortal, not a Buddha. The true Way is sublime. It can’t be expressed in language. Of what use are scriptures? But someone who sees his own nature finds the Way, even if he can’t read a word. Someone who sees his nature is a Buddha. And since a Buddha’s body is intrinsically pure and unsullied, and everything he says is an expression of his mind, being basically empty, a buddha can’t be found in words or anywhere in the Twelvefold Canon.

***The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma



Zen Story 190


"Therefore, did we say, Kalamas, what was said thus, 'Come Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, "The monk is our teacher." Kalamas, when you yourselves know: "These things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill," abandon them.

"Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,' enter on and abide in them.

***From the Kalama Sutta



Zen Story 191


The Royal Song

I bow down to noble Manjusri. I bow down to Him who has conquered the finite.

1 As calm water lashed by wind Turns into waves and rollers,
So the king thinks of Saraha
In many ways, although one man.

2 To a fool who squints
One lamp is as two;
Mere seen and seer are not two, ah!
The mind Works on the thingness of them both.

3 Though the house-lamps have been lit
The blind live on in the dark.
Though spontaneity is all-encompassing and close,
To the deluded it remains always far away.

4 Though there may be many rivers, they are one in the sea,
Though there may be many lies, one truth will conquer all.
When one sun appears, the dark
However deep will vanish.

5 As a cloud that rises from the sea
Absorbing rain the earth embraces,
So, like the sky, the sea remains
Without increasing or decreasing.

6 So from spontaneity that’s unique,
Replete with the Buddha’s perfections,
Are all sentient beings born and in it come To rest.
But it is neither concrete nor abstract.

7 They walk other paths and so forsake true bliss,
Seeking the delights that stimulants produce.
The honey in their mouths and to them so near
Will vanish if at once they do not drink it.

8 Beasts do not understand the world
To be a sorry place.
Not so the wise
Who the heavenly nectar drink
While beasts hunger for the sensual.

9 To a fly that likes the smell of putrid
Meat the fragrance of sandalwood is foul.
Beings who discard Nirvana
Covet coarse Samsara’s realm.

10 An ox’s footprints filled with water
Will soon dry up; so with a mind that’s firm
But full of qualities that are not perfect;
These imperfections will in time dry up.

11 Like salt sea water that turns
Sweet when drunk up by the clouds,
So a firm mind that works for others turns
The poison of sense-objects into nectar.

12 If ineffable, never is one unsatisfied,
If unimaginable, it must be bliss itself.
Though from a cloud one fears the thunderclap,
The crops ripen when from it pours the rain.

13 It is in the beginning, in the middle, and
The end; yet end and beginning are nowhere else.
All those with minds deluded by interpretative thoughts are in
Two minds and so discuss nothingness and compassion as two things.

14 Bees know that in flowers
Honey can be found.
That Samsara and Nirvana are not two
How will the deluded ever understand?

15 When the deluded in a mirror look
They see a face, not a reflection.
So the mind that has truth denied
Relies on that which is not true.

16 Though the fragrance of a flower cannot be touched,
‘Tis all pervasive and at once perceptible.
So by unpatterned being-in-itself
Recognize the round of mystic circles.

17 When still water by the wind is stirred,
It takes the shape and texture of a rock.
When the deluded are disturbed by interpretative thoughts,
That which is as yet unpatterned turns very hard and solid.

18 Mind immaculate in its very being can never be
Polluted by Samsara’s or Nirvana’s impurities.
A precious jewel deep in mud
Will not shine, though it has luster.

19 Knowledge shines not in the dark, but when the darkness
Is illumined, suffering disappears [at once].
Shoots grow from the seed
And leaves from the shoots.

20 He who thinks of the mind in terms of one
Or many casts away the light and enters the world.
Into a [raging] fire he walks with open eyes—
Who could be more deserving of compassion?

21 For the delights of kissing the deluded crave
Declaring it to be the ultimately real—
Like a man who leaves his house and standing at the door
Asks for reports of sensual delights.

22 The stirring of biotic forces in the house of nothingness
Has given artificial rise to pleasures in so many ways.
Such yogis from affliction faint for they have fallen
From celestial space, inveigled into vice.

23 As a Brahmin, who with rice and butter
Makes a burnt offering in blazing fire
Creating a vessel for nectar from celestial space,
Takes this through wishful thinking as the ultimate.

24 Some people who have kindled the inner heat and raised it to the fontanel
Stroke the uvula with the tongue in a sort of coition and confuse
That which fetters with what gives release,
In pride will call themselves yogis.

25 As higher awareness they teach what they experience Within.
What fetters them they will call liberation.
A glass trinket colored green to them is an emerald;
Deluded, they know not a gem from what they think it should be.

26 They take copper to be gold.
Bound by discursive thought
They think these thoughts to be ultimate reality.
They long for the pleasures experienced in dreams.
They call the perishable body-mind eternal bliss supreme.

27 By the symbol EV AM [they think] self-clearness is achieved,
By the different situations that demand four seals
They call what they have fancied spontaneity,
But this is looking at reflections in a mirror.

28 As under delusion’s power a herd of deer will rush
For the water in a mirage which is not recognized,
So also the deluded quench not their thirst, are bound by chains
And find pleasure in them, saying that all is ultimately real.

29 Non-memory is convention’s truth
And mind which has become no-mind.
This is fulfilment, this the highest good.
Friends, of this highest good become aware.

30 In non-memory is mind absorbed; just this Is emotionality perfect and pure.
It is unpolluted by the good or bad of worldliness
Like a lotus unaffected by the mud from which it grows.

31 Yet with certainty must all things be viewed as if they were a magic spell.
If without distinction you can accept or reject Samsara
Or Nirvana, steadfast is your mind, free from the shroud of darkness.
In you will be self-being, beyond thought and self-originated.

32 This world of appearance has from its radiant beginning
Never come to be; unpatterned it has discarded patterning.
As such it is continuous and unique meditation;
It is non-mentation, stainless contemplation, and non-mind.

33 Mind, intellect, and the formed contents of that mind are It,
So too are the world and all that seems from It to differ,
All things that can be sensed and the perceiver,
Also dullness, aversion, desire, and enlightenment.

34 Like a lamp that shines in the darkness of spiritual Unknowing,
It removes obscurations of a mind
As far as the fragmentations of intellect obtain.
Who can imagine the self-being of desirelessness?

35 There’s nothing to be negated, nothing to be
Affirmed or grasped; for It can never be conceived.
By the fragmentations of the intellect are the deluded
Fettered; undivided and pure remains spontaneity.

36 If you question ultimacy with the postulates of the many and the one,
Oneness is not given, for by transcending knowledge are sentient beings freed.
The radiant is potency latent in the intellect, and this
Is shown to be meditation; unswerving mind is our true essence.

37 Once in the realm that’s full of joy
The seeing mind becomes enriched
And thereby for this and that most useful; even when it runs
After objects it is not alienated from itself

38 The buds of joy and pleasure
And the leaves of glory grow.
If nothing flows out anywhere
The bliss unspeakable will fruit.

39 What has been done and where and what in itself it will become
Is nothing: yet thereby it has been useful for this and that.
Whether passionate or not
The pattern is nothingness.

40 If I am like a pig that covets worldly mire
You must tell me what fault lies in a stainless mind.
By what does not affect one
How can one now be fettered?

-Translated by Herbert V. Guenther



Zen Story 192

Life is always Misery ~BUDDHA Life as you know it IS misery. Buddha is not talking about HIS life, because what do you know about his life? That is not utter misery; that is utter bliss, that is ultimate bliss. But the life that you know IS misery. Does it need any proofs? Have you not observed yourself that it is misery? Do you need a Buddha to remind you?

And even when a buddha reminds you, you don't feel good. You feel offended, as if your life is being condemned. He is not condemning your life -- buddhas never condemn anything. They simply say whatsoever is the case. If you are blind, they say you are blind. If you are dead, they say you are dead. They simply state the fact -- and they state the fact because there is a possibility to go beyond it.

Buddha insists again and again that life is misery because life CAN be tremendous bliss. But unless you understand the first thing you will not understand the second thing. First you have to be very very aware that your life is misery, so much so that it becomes impossible to live in the old way even for a single moment. When you see your house is on fire, how can you go on living in it? You will run, you will escape from the house! You will forget all your treasures. You will not carry your cherished items, beautiful paintings, art works, or whatsoever you love. You will forget all about your postal stamps and your picture albums. You will forget even your wife, your husband, your children. You will remember them when you are out of the house.

Buddha used to tell a story: There was an old man, eighty years old, who became blind in old age. His friends, his physicians, suggested to him that his eyes could be cured, but the old man was a philosopher, a logician, a great scholar. He said, "What do I need eyes for? I have twelve sons -- that means twenty-four eyes; their twelve wives -- that means twenty-four eyes more; my wife -- two eyes more; and so many children of my sons.... I have so many eyes, why do I need eyes for myself? In this house there are at least one hundred eyes; if two eyes are missing it doesn't matter. My needs are looked after."

His logic had a point in it. He silenced his friends and physicians. But one night the house caught fire. Those hundred eyes escaped -- they forgot all about the old man. Yes, they remembered, but they remembered only when they were safe outside. Suddenly they remembered that the old man is in the house. What to do now? And the flames were so big now they could not go in. And the old man was trying to find his way stumbling, getting burned here and there. And then he remembered that his logic was absolute stupidity. In times of real need only your own eyes can be of help. But it was too late: he died, he was burned alive.

When Buddha insists again and again that life is DUKKHA -- misery, anguish, pain -- he is simply reminding you that your house is on fire and your eyes are still blind. It is time -- prepare! Your eyes can be cured. A way can be found to come out of this fire. You can still save yourself, all is not yet lost. Hence the insistence.

Remember one thing: the blind man knows nothing about darkness even, what to say about light! Because to see darkness eyes are needed. You may be thinking that blind people live in darkness -- you are totally wrong. They know nothing of darkness. Because YOU close your eyes and you feel darkness, so you think blind people must be living in darkness -- but they don't have eyes to close. And unless you know light you cannot know darkness; they are two aspects of the same coin. Eyes are needed for both.

Hopeless people hope. Blind people think sooner or later they will attain to eyes. In the dark night of your souls you cling to the hope that there must be a dawn. To tolerate the present misery you have to create a certain kind of optimistic attitude so that you can hope for a beautiful tomorrow -- although it never comes. But in hoping, you can tolerate. At least you can dilute your misery a little bit, you can avoid getting too much disturbed by it. You can remain occupied somewhere else. You can keep your eyes closed to the present anguish.

Buddha wants to bring you to the reality of your existence. He is a very earthly man, very pragmatic. He is a realist, he is not an idealist. He has nothing to do with pessimism and nothing to do with optimism. He is simply trying to shake you up. It is a way of hammering on your head. That's why he insists again and again that life is misery.

Watch your life, and you will find proofs and proofs, more than are needed, more proofs than you can manage. In fact, you will see that Buddha's insistence is not as much as it should be, that he is very lenient, very liberal.

Buddha is right: in your life, whatsoever you do, you are bound to meet misery. And as time passes, more and more misery, because life starts slipping out of your fingers, death starts overshadowing you. And you become very tense -- life is slipping by and you have not arrived anywhere yet. You start running, you put all that you have at stake... but only death is the culmination of what you call life. How can death be the culmination of life? If death is the culmination of life then life is utterly useless -- not only useless but a very ugly joke played on man.

Do whatsoever you want to do, but you will end in the same way. Everything ends in misery, everything ends in death. People make tremendous effort, but what can you do? -- all your efforts are doomed, because you don't do the fundamental thing that can bring a radical change. You don't create consciousness. That is the only radical transformation of life: from misery to bliss. You do everything else except meditate.

It is not that a meditative person enters into heaven -- no, heaven enters into a meditative person. Paradise is not a geographical place, it is a psychological experience. A meditative person can enjoy everything -- only he can enjoy. He is not a renunciate. Only he knows how to taste the beauty of things, how to experience the tremendous presence of existence all around. Because he IS, he knows how to love, how to live. But your life is going to be one misery after another misery. It will be a long chain of misery.

Buddha insists for a certain reason. The reason is: if you listen to him and if you become aware that your life IS misery, you are bound to ask him, "Sir, then what should we do?"

Buddha has the way; he can show you the path. He diagnoses your illness, because he has the key which can transform your illness into health, your madness into sanity.



Zen Story 193


An ox that's been pulling a loaded wagon a long way the closer the sun lowers to the horizon and evening comes on, the faster it walks, because it wants to reach its destination quickly. It missed its home.

We human beings, the older we get, the sicker we get, the closer we are to dying: that's the time when you have to practice. You can't make old age and illness an excuse not to practice, or else you'll just be worse than ox.

~ Ajahn Chah



Zen Story 194

What is Buddha nature?

Buddha nature is truth itself. It is the root of all existence. It is called Dharma nature or true nature, central nature, whole self, etc. It is beyond imagination or perception, but occasionally, some enlightened people have tried to describe their overwhelming experience verbally.

The Enlightenment of Master Hui Neng

There was the sixth patriarch, Master Hui Neng, five generations after the Bodhi Dharma who taught Zen meditation theory in China. Master Hui Neng was an uneducated ordinary man who took care of his parents by selling firewood. He was able to receive spiritual training under Master Hung Yen and he was enlightened while reading the line “should develop a mind which alights upon nothing whatsoever” in the Diamond Sutra. He wrote of his experience in the Hui Neng Sutra. He said these words in great joy to his teacher when he experienced his true Buddha nature:

Who would have thought that Buddha nature is so perfectly simple and so beautiful!

Who would have thought that Buddha nature is so perfectly eternal, so everlasting and so boundless!

Who would have thought that Buddha nature is so limitless and so perfectly free!

Who would have thought hat Buddha nature is so timeless and unchanging!

Who would have thought that the whole universe belongs to Buddha nature!

In these words, Hui Neng tells us that Buddha nature is changeless and everlasting – we always carry his precious, sacred thing within us. Enlightenment is possible for everyone, rich or poor, educated or not, privileged or not. When in touch with their Buddha nature, humans have access to wisdom, compassion and creativity. Even those who seem so very evil have this pure, unalterable dimension that must be respected. Also, to the enlightened person, there are no boundaries, no “you or me” divisions – everything is One. This is called “The Oneness” in a Sutra.

| Energy in zen - A Meditation Guide

Ven: Hwasun Yangil |



Zen Story 195

I will tell you one story... Hui Neng, a Chinese master, was working under his master. When Hui Neng went to his master, the master said, "For what have you come here? There is no need to come to me." He couldn't understand. Hui Neng thought that he was not yet ready to be accepted, but the master was seeing something else. He was seeing his growing aura. He was saying this: "Even if you do not come to me, the thing is bound to happen sooner or later, anywhere. You are already in it, so there is no need to come to me."

But Hui Neng said, "Do not reject me." So the master accepted him and told him to go just behind the monastery, in the kitchen of the monastery. It was a big monastery of five hundred monks. The master said to Hui Neng, "Just go behind the monastery and help in the kitchen, and do not come again to me. Whenever it will be needed, I will come to you."

No meditation was given to Hui Neng, no scriptures to read, study or meditate upon. Nothing was taught to him, he was just thrown into the kitchen. The whole monastery was working. There were pundits, scholars, and there were meditators, and there were yogis, and the whole monastery was agog. Everyone was working and this Hui Neng was just cleaning rice and doing kitchen work.

Twelve years passed. Hui Neng didn"t go again to the master because it was not allowed. He waited, he waited, he waited... he simply waited. He was just taken as a servant. Scholars would come, meditators would come, and no one would even pay any attention to him. And there were big scholars in the monastery.

Then the master declared that his death was near, and now he wanted to appoint someone to function in his place, so he said, "Those who think they are enlightened should compose a small poem of four lines. In those four lines you should put all that you have gained. And if I approve any poems and see that the lines show that enlightenment has happened, I will choose someone as my successor."

There was a great scholar in the monastery, and no one attempted the poem because everyone knew that he was going to win. He was a great knower of scriptures, so he composed four lines. Those four lines were just like this... the meaning of it was like this: "Mind is like a mirror, and dust gathers on it. Clean the dust, and you are enlightened."

But even this great scholar was afraid because the master would know. He already knows who is enlightened and who is not. Though all he has written is beautiful, it is the very essence of all the scriptures – mind is like a mirror, and dust gathers on it; remove the dust, and you are enlightened – this was the whole gist of all the Vedas, but he knew that was all that it was. He had not known anything, so he was afraid.

He didn't go directly to the master, but in the night he went to the hut, to his master’s hut, and wrote all the four lines on the wall without signing – without any signature. In this way, if the master approved and said, "Okay, this is right," then he would say, "I have written them." If he said, "No! Who has written these lines?" then he would keep silent, he thought.

But the master approved. In the morning the master said, "Okay!" He laughed and said, "Okay! The man who has written this is an enlightened one."

So the whole monastery began to talk about it. Everyone knew who had written it. They were discussing and appreciating, and the lines were beautiful – really beautiful. Then some monks came to the kitchen. They were drinking tea and they were talking, and Hui Neng was there serving them. He heard what had happened. The moment he heard those four lines, he laughed.

So someone asked, "Why are you laughing, you fool? You do not know anything; for twelve years you have been serving in the kitchen. Why are you laughing?" No one had even heard him laugh before. He was just taken as an idiot who would not even talk.

So he said, "I cannot write, and I am not an enlightened one either, but these lines are wrong. So if someone comes with me, I will compose four lines. If someone comes with me, he can write it on the wall. I cannot write; I do not know writing."

So someone followed him – just as a joke. A crowd came there and Hui Neng said, "Write: There is no mind and there is no mirror, so where can the dust gather? One who knows this is enlightened."

But the master came out and he said, "You are wrong," to Hui Neng. Hui Neng touched his feet and returned back to his kitchen.

In the night when everyone was asleep, the master came to Hui Neng and said, "You are right, but I could not say so before those idiots – and they are learned idiots. If I had said that you are appointed as my successor, they would have killed you. So escape from here! You are my successor, but do not tell it to anyone. And I knew this the day you came. Your aura was growing; that was why no meditation was given to you. There was no need. You were already in meditation. And these twelve years" silence – not doing anything, not even meditation – emptied you completely of your mind, and the aura has become full. You have become a full moon. But escape from here! Otherwise they will kill you.

"You have been here for twelve years, and the light has been constantly spreading from you, but no one observed it. And they have been coming to the kitchen, everyone has been coming to the kitchen every day – thrice, four times. Everyone passes through here; that is why I posted you in the kitchen. But no one has recognized your aura. So you escape from here."

When this spinal column thread is realized, your auras become enlightened. So a Buddha, a Mahavir, a Krishn are not painted with auras just as decorations, those auras exist. Your spinal column begins to throw out light. Within, you become enlightened – your whole body becomes a body of light – then it penetrates the outer. So really, for a buddha, for anyone who is enlightened, there is no need to ask anyone what he is. The aura shows everything. And when someone becomes enlightened the master knows it, because the aura reveals everything.



Zen Story 196



Zen Story 197

299. Learn this from the waters;
In mountain clefts and chasms,
Loud gushes the streamlets,
But great rivers flow silently.

Empty things make a noise,
The full is always quiet.
The fool is like a half-filled pot,
The wise one is like a deep still pool.

299. Pelajarilah hal ini dari air ;
Di lembah-lembah dan jurang-jurang,
Mengalir dengan gemuruh anak sungai,
Tetapi sungai besar mengalir dengan tenang.

Tong kosong nyaring bunyinya,
Yang penuh selalu tenang.
Orang bodoh adalah seperti tong yang setengah terisi,
Orang bijaksana adalah seperti kolam dalam yang tenang.

Sutta Nipata 720-72



Zen Story 198

302. There are these five timely gifts. What five? One gives to the one who has just arrived, to one who is leaving, to the sick, when food is hard to get, and the first-fruits of field and orchard one gives to the virtuous.

302. Ada lima macam dana yang tepat pada waktunya. Apakah kelima hal itu? Seseorang berdana kepada orang yang baru saja tiba, kepada orang yang akan bepergian, kepada orang sakit, pada saat makanan sukar didapat, dan panen pertama dari ladang dan kebun didanakan kepada para bijaksana.

Anguttara Nikaya III 41



Zen Story 199

300. Humility means humbleness of mind and being unassuming in manner. A person possessing it has put away pride and arrogance, he resembles a foot- wiping cloth, a bull with its horns cut off, a snake with its fangs removed. He is gentle, cheerful and easy to speak to.

300. Kerendahan hati berarti kesederhanaan dalam sikap dan pikiran. Seseorang yang memiliki hal ini telah menyingkirkan kesombongan dan ketinggihatian, ia seperti kain pembersih kaki, seperti banteng yang tak bertanduk, seperti ular yang tak bertaring. Ia lemah lembut, ceria, dan mudah bergaul

*Paramatthajotika 144



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