Home : Literature : The teachings of Xu (Hsu) Yun
 » Remembering Master Xu Yun
  index  next page
Grand Master Xu (Hsu) Yun

Remembering Master
Xu Yun

Jy Din Shakya

as related to

Ming Zhen (Chuan Yuan) Shakya

Master Jy Din Shakya with Chuan Yuan Shakya
Ven. Master Jy Din Shakya with Ming Zhen Shakya, 1998

The Master's name, Xu Yun, is translated into English as "Empty Cloud", a translation which often confuses people. We all know what a cloud is, but what, we wonder, is meant by "empty"?

In Chan (pronounced Jen) or Zen literature the term "empty" appears so often and with so many variations of definition, that I will begin by trying to clarify its meaning.

To be empty means to be empty of ego, to be without any thought of self, not in the sense that one functions as a vegetable or a wild animal- living things which merely process water, food and sunlight in order to grow and reproduce- but in the sense that one ceases to gauge the events, the persons, the places, and the things of one's environment in terms of "I" or "me" or "mine". A person who is "empty of self" seldom has occasion even to use these pronouns.

Let me be more specific. We have all heard about a parent, or friend, or lover who claims to be completely unselfish in his love for another. A husband will say, "I kept nothing for myself. I gave everything to her, my wife." This man is not empty. He has merely projected a part of his identity upon another person.

A person who is truly empty possesses nothing, not even a consciousness of self. His interests lie not with his own needs and desires, for indeed, he is unaware of any such considerations, but only with the welfare of others. He does not evaluate people as being likeable or unlikable, worthy or unworthy, or as useful or useless. He neither appreciates nor depreciates anyone. He simply understands that the Great Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light and Goodness, dwells within every human being, and it is in the interest of this Buddha Self that he invests himself.

Attaining such emptiness is never easy. An old Chan story illustrates this:

[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
©2004 Zen and the Martial Arts