By SYZ站長 | 2014/05/30 |
A disciple went to see his master: “Master, I already learned enough. I can graduate now!”
“What is enough?” the master asked.
“That means it’s full; it can’t contain anymore.”
“Then go get a large bowl of stones!”
The disciple did as he was told.
“Is it full?” the master asked.
“Yes, it’s full!”
The master took a handful of sand and mixed it into the bowl, which did not overflow.
“Is it full?” the master asked again.
“Yes, it’s full!”
The master took a handful of lime powder and mixed it into the bowl, which did not overflow.
“Is it full?” the master asked yet again.
“Yes, it’s full!”
The master now poured a cup of water into the bowl, which still did not overflow.
“Is it full?”
During the dog days of summer, the temple’s lawn had largely dried and turned yellow.
“We have to hurry up and sow some seeds! The grass looks terrible!” the little monk said.
“Wait till it’s cooler,” said the master, as he waved the comment off. “Go along with time!”
When it was mid-autumn, the master bought some grass seeds and told the little monk to sow them.
In the autumn wind, the seeds flew up as soon as they were scattered.
“Oh no! So many seeds have been blown away!” the little monk shouted.
“No worries. The ones that got blown away were empty. They would not have sprouted even if they were sown properly,” the master said. “Go along with nature!”
Soon after all the seeds were sown, a few birds came looking for food.
“Oh no! The seeds are all getting eaten by birds!” the little monk panicked, stomping his feet.
“No worries. The birds won’t be able to finish all the seeds,” the master said. “Go along with chance!”
A storm happened in the middle of the night. The little monk rushed into the temple in the morning, crying: “Master! We’re really done now. The storm washed away so many seeds!”
“They will sprout wherever they are washed to,” the master said. “Go along with fate!”
A week passed.
Where there was once bare land, now was an abundance of grass sprouts. Even some unsown areas were covered in light green.
The little monk danced and clapped with happiness.
The master nodded and said, “Go along with joy!”
A little nun went to speak to her master: “Master, I have become
disillusioned with the mortal world. I have already been a Buddhist
nun for numerous years. Everyday between these green hills and white
clouds, I eat vegetarian and dress in plain robes, drum at sunset and
ring the bells at sunrise. But the more I study scripture, the
distraction in my heart not only doesn’t decrease, but rather
increases. What should I do?”
“Light a lamp, so that it brightens you, yet does not give you a
shadow. Then, you will understand.”
Several decades passed…
There was a temple, well known near and far as the Temple of Ten
Thousand Lamps because its interior was filled with lamps, thousands
and ten thousands of lamps. When one walked inside this temple, it was
as if one had entered a sea of lamps, magnificent and glorious. This
Temple of Ten Thousand Lamps’ abbot was our little nun from years ago.
Although she was now of elderly age and had hundreds of disciples, she
was still unhappy. With every charitable deed that she performed, she
lit a lamp. But regardless of whether she placed the lamp at her feet,
above her head, or even when she completely surrounded herself with a
sea of lamps, her own shadow was always present. One could even say
that the brighter the lamp, the clearer her shadow; the more lamps,
the more shadows. She was perplexed and no longer had a master to
consult. Her master had long since passed away, and she was not far
from death herself.
Now she has passed away too, and it is said that she finally
understood right before she left.
She could not find in the midst of ten thousand lamps what she had
spent her life looking for, but rather she finally understood inside
her own dark room. She realized that no matter how multitudinous her
accomplishments and how bright her lights, they would only create
shadows behind her. There was only one way to cleanse her soul and rid
her heart of all worries.
She lit a lamp in her heart!
A disciple said to his master: “I finally understand! I feel like I’ve
been all wrong for decades, so I never want to think about my past
again, as if those days never existed.”
“Hmm!” the master said. “That’s great! Tomorrow, go to the flower shop
at the foot of the mountain, and bring back a bouquet of tuberose. You
must take the most direct path there; no detours allowed.”
“But no detours means I must pass through the immoral district!” the
disciple said hurriedly.
“Just go buy the flowers!” the master said with disregard.
The flowers having been brought back, at night they filled the entire
house with fragrance.
“Did you follow my orders and buy them from that flower shop?” the
“Did you pass through the immoral district?”
“Yes I did, twice.”
“Didn’t you go to buy flowers? How did you end up in the immoral
district?” the master asked, with coldness in his eyes.
“But without passing through the immoral district, I couldn’t get to
the flower shop,” the disciple quickly explained.
“Having gone through that kind of dirty place, are the flowers still
“Yes! Yes! Didn’t you smell them? They’re even more fragrant than when
I first bought them!’
“That’s it! Without going through years of mistakes, how could be
where you are today? You could even say, without the pain of being
lost, how could you attain joy? Although the past has passed, that
period will always be there; you cannot deny its existence. Rather,
you emerged from the mud and became a lily flower.” the master said,
revealing his true kindness. “Believing that you’re right today and
was wrong yesterday is certainly a realization, but not a great one.
The great realization is not minding yesterday’s wrongs because
today’s rights involve yesterday’s wrongs!”
What is a pleasant feeling? What is an aesthetic sense?
If you drink a beverage and say: “It is really too delicious! It’s so
thirst-quenching!” This is a pleasant feeling.
If you drink a beverage and say: “It’s a bit sour and a bit sweet,
kind of like falling in love for the first time.” This is an aesthetic
What is aesthetic sense from a distance?
If you see a portrait and recognize its subject, you would surely
judge how well it resembles the actual person.
If you see a portrait and do not recognize its subject, you would
surely judge how beautiful the painting is.
The difference between the two is aesthetic sense from a distance.
The little monk sat on the ground and cried, surrounded by scraps of
“What happened?” the old monk asked.
“I can’t write well.”
The old monk picked up a few scraps and said, “You wrote pretty well.
Why did you throw these away? And why are you crying?”
“I just think they’re not good,” said the little monk as he continued
crying. “I’m a perfectionist, so I can’t tolerate any mistakes.”
“The problem is, who in this world can be completely without
mistakes?” said the old monk as he patted the little monk. “You want
everything to be perfect. When anything isn’t up to your standards,
you get upset and cry. This behavior is rather not perfect.”
The little monk picked up the scraps of paper and went to wash his
hands. He also looked in the mirror, and went to wash his face. Then,
he took off his pants and washed them again and again.
“Is this being clean? You’ve been washing so much that you’ve already
wasted half the day,” the old monk said.
“I have an obsession with cleanliness!” said the little monk. “I can’t
stand any bit of dirtiness, haven’t you noticed? After every
benefactor leaves, I wipe the chair he sat on.”
“Is this an obsession with cleanliness?” the master said, smiling.
“You complain that the sky’s dirty, the earth’s dirty, people are
dirty… The outside of your body may be clean, but your soul is sick
and rather unclean.”
The little monk was leaving to beg alms, and he particularly chose an
old and ragged piece of clothing to wear.
“Why did you pick this one?” the master asked.
“Didn’t you say not to care about the surface?” the little monk said
indignantly. “So I chose an old piece of clothing. Besides, this way,
benefactors will pity me and give more money.”
“Are you going to beg alms, or are you going to beg?” the master said,
glaring. “You wish people to feel sorry for you and want to take care
of you? Or do you hope that people see promise in you, and want to
help millions of people through you?”
The old monk passed away, and the little monk became abbot.
He always dressed neatly and, carrying a medical kit, went to the
dirtiest and poorest neighborhoods to take care of the sick there. He
would return to the temple in a very soiled state.
He also often personally begged alms. But with anything he received in
his left hand, he would use to help the impoverished with his right.
He hardly ever stayed in the monastery, and the monastery was never
expanded; yet his followers kept on increasing. Everyone followed him
from mountains to seas, to the farthest villages and harbors.
“When my master was alive, he taught me what perfection meant. It
means to demand that this world be perfect. He also told me what was
to be obsessed with cleanliness; it is to help every unclean person
and help him become clean. Master even made me realize what begging
alms was; it is enabling people to hold hands and help each other, so
that everyone is tied together with kindness,” the little monk said.
“And regarding the monastery, it doesn’t have to be in a mountain
forest, but should rather be among the people. North south east west,
it is where I preach; between heaven and earth, that is my monastery.
“Ah! There’s a devil in your house!” the minister exclaimed.
“What?” said the fearfully surprised layman, as he looked toward where the minister’s shivering hand was pointing. “That’s just a painting I collected. Is there a problem?”
“A painting?” The minister’s face was now pale. “What painting? That’s not a painting. That’s a devil! I really can’t believe that after being a Christian for decades, you don’t even know that dragons represent devils.”
“Dragons? Oh!” the layman said, smiling. “But they’re imaginary. Where on this earth are there dragons? Who has ever seen a dragon? That’s the work of a famous artist. I bought it at a charity auction, with quite a bit of money!”
“Stupid! You spent money to buy home a devil.” The minister’s face was not just pale but now green. “Hurry up and burn the painting, or else the devil will enter your home, and you will never have a day of peace, let alone get into heaven.”
The layman was afraid to resist, so he obediently took down the painting, ripped it, and threw it away before the minister.
“Good! Now you will be able to enter heaven,” the minister said.
A few days later, the minister and the layman got into a deadly car accident.
Their souls ascended together. At the gates of heaven, they saw a line of people waiting to pass through “customs.”
Some people successfully crossed the border into heaven. Others were denied and sent into the darkness.
“I can instantly see who will get in,” the minister said, as he pointed at the people in front of him. “This one, this one, I know them. They’re very religious and will definitely get in. That one, that one, ah. Why did they even come? All day long, they complain about this and that; they won’t get in.”
Just as he said, two entered heaven, and two were pushed away.
It was finally the minister and layman’s turn. While he provided the appropriate documentation, the minister kept trying to look inside heaven. Suddenly, his face turned pale, and he shouted with great shivering fear: “The most terrible! Everybody look! There’s a devil in heaven!”
“Devil? How can there be a devil there?” God asked, as he came to see what the commotion was about.
“Look! Isn’t that the devil?” the minister yelled, pointing into the distance. “There is a dragon.”
God looked and laughed. “Oh! I know. I’ll tell him to come over.” He motioned for the dragon to come closer.
The dragon came, and it was actually a shirtless man with tattoos all over his body, including nine tattooed dragons.
“He used to be a gangster, who fought and caused trouble all the time, and even got a bunch of dragon tattoos. But he later turned good and was kind and helpful to everyone, so he entered heaven.”
“But… but…” the minister stammered, “There are dragons on his body, and dragons are devils!”
God smiled and said: “Tattoos of dragons, paintings of dragons—they’re all fabrications. Only a dragon in your heart is a devil. Do you want me to skin him or something?”
“But… but… I get scared looking at it!” the minister exclaimed.
“With me here, how can you still be afraid?” God said, glaring. “Do you believe in me, or in the dragon? As I see it, you’re the one who has a devil in his heart.”
The minister’s passport was returned to him, and on it was stamped in large letters: “REJECTED.”
Wong Stinky Head had an appearance that could not be any plainer. Even if you were to pass him on the street hundreds of times, you would never give him a second look. When he watched street performers, he was the kind of person who hid behind other people’s shoulders with his tan face in the shadows. It was a face you wouldn’t notice whether it was there or not. It just filled a space; you couldn’t count it as a person. With one glance, the worldly performers could tell this man was just here to watch the show for free, a poor single guy who wouldn’t give a penny.
Wang Stinky Head certainly was a single guy. Of course, he’d liked women before and had been to brothels. He had even sneaked to the back of outdoor theaters to spy on girls changing clothes. Maybe he had thought of finding a wife, but it was always been nothing but a thought, a dream that he immediately woke from.
His stinky head was enough to stop anyone from wanting to marry him. When he took out the trash in the office, everybody would stand up, watch from afar, and return to their seats only when he was gone.
“There is a science to looking at Wang Stinky Head’s stinky head,” the manager once said to a new co-worker. “Rather than looking at it as a disease, think of it as the map of the world! There are seas and continents, mountains and deserts. That big area with hair is China, and those little spots are Japan!”
Wang Stinky Head took all of this in and felt pretty happy, believing himself to be the symbol of the world. He thought, since stinky feet are called “Hong Kong feet,” his stinky head should be called “American head.”
One day, actual American heads came to Wang’s small town. The visitors were goodwill ambassadors from some international charity organization. There was a pale-skinned American girl wearing a red and blue striped dress. There was also a large man with a big white beard, red hat, red clothes, and black belt. They stood in front of the new department store and spoke their foreign language, as they were greeted with trumpets and drums.
Wang Stinky Head also hid behind other people’s shoulders to watch for a while, but felt that the show was far inferior to Chinese street performances. However, he was fascinated when the mayor’s office chose a few adorable children to take pictures with and get presents from the fat American man.
“That’s Santa Claus. Tomorrow is Christmas, meaning tonight, Santa will sneak into people’s houses through their chimneys and give presents to the children,” explained Wang’s neighbor Mrs. Chang.
“How can there be something so good?” said Wang Stinky Head, as he scratched his head and wrung his hands. “From childhood to now, who among us has received presents? Have your kids gotten any? It’s just a game that society fools people with.”
“Hey! You just don’t understand. Santa is western, and of course western people give western kids presents. Who cares about us China? This thing today is just for show.”
Now Wang Stinky Head was even more indignant. Western children are children, and Chinese children are also children. How could there be something so unfair? Why doesn’t China have its own Santa Claus?
“Forget about it!” Mrs. Chang said. Even Mrs. Chen was laughing from the kitchen.
From that day on, Wang Stinky Head developed a great interest in Santa Claus. He asked everyone he saw about Santa, and even took a trip to consult the elementary school’s teachers.
It turned out that Santa wasn’t American but European. Wang thought, “Which spot on my head is Europe? Europe has a European Santa, America has an American Santa, and so China of course should have one too.”
But everybody’s answer was the same: “China doesn’t have one!”
“China must have one, or else our children would be too pitiable!” Wang Stinky Head said angrily.
A few days later, Wang’s little house emitted jingling sounds, and neighbors saw him running around looking for pieces of wood. He also went to factories to pick up thrown out nails and screws. He went into the forest and came back with a basket of pinecones.
“Wang Stinky Head, I heard you’re opening a factory?” a co-worker joked.
“Yes! Yes! Just making some little things.”
“What little things? Bring them out for everyone to see!”
“You’ll know when the time comes!”
Wang Stinky Head would not let anybody see what he was making. If people were to see, they wouldn’t be interesting anymore. The elementary school teachers said so! Santa Claus secretly makes toys for three seasons of the year, and waits till Christmas to send them door to door.
Wang had set his first serious goal in 60 years—to be China’s Santa Claus.
The pile of materials in front of his house became higher and higher. Not only was he heard hammering in the evenings, he clearly wasn’t resting at night either. There were often lights flickering in his windows and the funny smell of glue.
Due to neighbors’ complaints, the authorities came to check on Wang, but Wang blocked the door and would not let anyone in. Looking at Wang, the police didn’t think he could cause any trouble, so they just scolded him a bit about disturbing his neighbors at night and left.
The leaves were falling, and autumn was almost over. Wang Stinky Head was now busier than ever—collecting pinecones and even counting heads. He secretly went to the elementary school playground to count the number of children. As his count kept getting higher and higher, Wang started panicking more and more. Sometimes even before the sun came up, he was already working.
But two days passed, and Wang was nowhere to be heard or seen. His co-workers thought he probably went crazy again and decided to stay home, so they didn’t worry about his absence. His neighbors worried that Wang got sick, yet they couldn’t help thinking, “What a relief! Silence for a few days.”
Four days later, the authorities finally broke down Wang’s door.
Everyone was stunned.
The house was filled with little wooden figures wearing hats made of melon peel, miniature horses made of screws and wire, little cars glued from pinecones and buttons, and mini houses built from clapboards. Hundreds upon thousands of colorful toys covered the floors, the walls, the bed. And right in the middle of the pile of toys lay Wang Stinky Head, clutching an half-finished wooden doll in his hand.
The coffin was quietly carried away. Instead of noisy funeral rites, a few unfinished toys were buried with Wang, so that he could continue to produce in the next life.
If he had died a month later, the children would have received their toys. Even if he had lived half a month longer, he at least could have finished making all the toys. But now, the dolls had white faces, red blush, but no mouths or eyes. The miniature trains had wheels and carts, but no chimneys.
People frequently peered around Wang Stinky Head’s house. Everybody talked about how they never imagined Wang could be so smart and have such talent for crafts.
Suddenly, Wang Stinky Head’s house became busy again. Hammering sounds were once again heard in the night. Adults wouldn’t let kids look in; they just furtively passed along the news.
On Christmas, American goodwill ambassadors didn’t visit, and there wasn’t any gift-giving for show. But in the morning, the entire town was filled with children’s screams of delight, followed by their running out to show off their new toys.
The adults just smiled, leaning against their doors, or sticking their heads out from windows.
From that time onward, this little town in China’s northern rural area had a Santa giving presents to children every year. But Santa never showed his face. Children could only guess that he must be a plump man with a long white heard, rosy cheeks, red clothes, and red hat—an adorable old man.