Zen in the Art of Being a Jedi

Enlightened

One day the Master announced that a young monk had reached an advanced state of enlightment. The news caused some stir. Some of the monks went to see the young monk. “We heard you are enlightened. Is that true?” they asked.

“It is,” he replied.

“And how do you feel?”

“As miserable as ever,” said the monk.

—Zen Story


The Archer

          After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot.

          “There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!” Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

          Curious about the old fellow’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit.

          “Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground. Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

          “You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.”


Sayings

天地同根      Heaven and earth and I are of the same root,

萬物一體      The ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.

—Zen Master Sêng-chao/Sõjõ

兀然無事坐、春夾草自生

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing,

Spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

—Zenrin Kushû

入林不動草、入水不立波

“Entering the forest he moves not the grass;

Entering the water he makes not a ripple.”

—Zenrin Kushû

From the K’un-lun mountains eastward the (Taoist) term “Great Oneness” is used. From Kashmir westward the (Buddhist) term sambodhi is used. Whether one looks longingly toward “non-being” (wu) or cultivates “emptiness” (sunyata), the principle involved is the same.

—Seng-yu

“When the task is done beforehand, then it is easy.”

—Yuan-tong

寧可永刧受沈淪、不從諸聖求解脱

I would rather sink to the bottom of the sea for endless eons than seek liberation through all the saints of the universe.

—Shih-t’ou

説不處用無盡

What is inexpressible is inexhaustible in its use.

—A Chinese Zen master

譬如秋水澄渟清浄無爲澹泞無礙。喚他作道人亦名無事人。

Like the clear stillness of autumn water—pure and without activity; in its tranquil depths are no obstructions. Such an one is called a man of Tao, also, a man who has nothing further to do.

—Wei-shan Ling-yu

“Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth.”

—Alan Watts

“If you want to change the world, start with the next person who comes to you in need.”

– B. D. Schiers

“The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”

– Eckhart Tolle

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