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Grand Master Xu (Hsu) Yun Chapter 10 - The Story of Layman Pang

"Just a minute!" shouted Layman Pang. "If you're so smart, tell us your method."

Ling Zhao returned to her parents and said gently, "It's not difficult, and it's not easy. When I'm hungry, I eat. When I'm tired, I sleep "

Ling Zhao had mastered Natural Chan.

Layman Pang learned a lot that day. He understood so much that he put away his books, locked his little monastery-hut, and decided to visit different Chan masters to test his understanding. He still couldn't compete against his own daughter, but he was getting pretty good.

Eventually he wound up at Nan Yueh Mountain where Master Shi Tou had a monastic retreat. Layman Pang went directly to the master and asked, "Where can I find a man who's unattached to material things?" Master Shi Tou slowly raised his hand and closed Pang's mouth. In that one gesture, Pang's Chan really deepened. He stayed at Nan Yueh for many months.

All the monks there watched him and became quite curious about his Natural Chan, his perfect equanimity. Even Master Shi Tou was moved to ask him what his secret was. "Everyone marvels at your methods," said Shi Tou. "Tell me. Do you have any special powers?"

Layman Pang just smiled and said, "No, no special powers. My day is filled with humble activities and I just keep my mind in harmony with my tasks. I accept what comes without desire or aversion. When encountering other people, I maintain an uncritical attitude, never admiring, never condemning. To me, red is red and not crimson or scarlet. So, what marvelous method do I use? Well, when I chop wood, I chop wood; and when I carry water, I carry water."

Master Shi Tou was understandably impressed by this response. He wanted Pang to join his Sangha. "A fellow like you shouldn't remain a layman," said Shi Tou. "Why don't you shave your head and become a monk?"

The proposition signaled the end of Pang's sojourn with Shi Tou. Clearly, he could learn no more from this master. Pang responded with a simple remark. "I'll do what I'll do," and what he did was leave.

He next showed up at the doorstep of the formidable Master Ma Zu. Again he asked the master, "Where can I find a man who's unattached to material things?" Ma Tzu frowned and replied, "I'll tell you after you've swallowed West River in one gulp "

In grasping that one remark, Pang was able to complete his enlightenment. He saw that Uncritical Mind was not enough. His mind had to become as immense as Buddha Mind; it had to encompass all Samsara and Nirvana, to expand into Infinity's Void. Such a mind could swallow the Pacific.

[Introduction]  [Chapter 1]  [Chapter 2]  [Chapter 3]  [Chapter 4]  [Chapter 5]  [Chapter 6]
[Chapter 7]  [Chapter 8]  [Chapter 9]  [Chapter 10]  [Chapter 11]  [Chapter 12]  [Chapter 13]
Last modified: July 11, 2004
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