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Grand Master Xu (Hsu) Yun Chapter 9 - Wordless Transmission

Stay with Chan! This is the most efficient way to attain enlightenment. Don't allow yourself to be tempted into adopting other methods.

Even Yong Jia, by his own admission, wasted a lot of time with intellectual philosophizing before he tried the Chan method with Patriarch Hui Neng. "In my youth," he said, "I studied sutras and shastras and commentaries trying endlessly to discriminate between name and form. I might as well have tried to count sand grains in the ocean. I had forgotten the Buddha's question, `Does a man who counts other men's gems get any richer?'"

The Chan method is truly like the Vajra King's sword. In one stroke it can cut through illusion to reach Buddhahood.

Whenever I think about the years of practice that often precede enlightenment's momentary experience, I think about Chan Master Shen Zan. We can all learn a lot from him.

Shen Zan had a master who unfortunately was not enlightened. One cannot give what one does not own; and so, empty handed, Shen Zan left his old master in order to go and study with Master Bai Zhang.

Now, under Master Bai Zhang's guidance, Shen Zan attained enlightenment and then, with fond respect, he went back to visit his old teacher.

The old man asked him, "What did you learn after you left me?" And because he was enlightened, Shen Zan was able to reply kindly, "Nothing, absolutely nothing." To the old man, this was bittersweet news. He was sorry that his student hadn't learned anything, but he was happy to have him back. "If you want, you can stay here," he said.

So Shen Zan stayed and served his old master.

One day, while taking a bath, the old man asked Shen Zan to scrub his back which was very dirty. As Shen Zan began to scrub he said, "Such funny crystal windows in your Buddha Hall." His master didn't know what he meant. "Please explain your remark," he asked.

As Shen Zan continued to scrub away the dirt, he said, "Although you can't see in, your Buddha Self sends out such illuminating rays." This answer puzzled the master.

A few days later, as the old master sat under a waxed- paper window studying a sutra, a bee began to buzz around the room; and the bee, drawn to the outside light, kept crashing into the window paper, trying to get out of the room. Shen Zan watched the frustrated bee and said, "So you want to get out and enter the infinity of space! Well, you won't do it by penetrating old paper..." Then he said simply, "The door stands open but the bee refuses to go through it. See how it knocks its head against the shut window. Foolish Bee! When will it understand that the Way is blocked by paper?"

Now a glimmer of light began to penetrate the teacher's mind. He sensed the deeper meaning of Shen Zan's words. Slyly he asked, "You were gone for a long time. Are you sure you didn't learn anything while you were away?"

Shen Zan laughed and confessed, "After I left you, I studied under master Bai Zhang. Through him I learned how to halt my discriminating mind... to cease being judgmental... to transcend the ego's world. Through him I attained the Holy Fruit of enlightenment."

Now, when the old master heard this wonderful news, he assembled all the monks and ordered that a banquet be prepared in Shen Zan's honor. He was so happy. "Please allow your old master to become your student," he asked Shen Zan. "Please expound the Dharma to me... especially that business about the baths and bees."

Shen Zan laughed. "Your Buddha Self shines out from you even though you can't see it for yourself. It is always pure and no amount of dirt can ever soil it. Also, your eyes are always turned outwards, fixed on printed pages; but Infinity cannot be captured in words. Books only engage us in debates. If you want to be free from illusion, you must look inwards. The Way into Infinity is on the other side of your gaze. Look inward to see your shining Buddha Self!"

Suddenly the old teacher understood! Suddenly he saw into his own Buddha Nature! He got so excited that he declared that Shen Zan would be the Abbot of the monastery. "Who would have believed that in my old age I finally would have made it across?" he shouted.

But that's what's so nice about the Eternal Moment, isn't it? Step outside of time just once, and all the years you spent in ignorance and suffering recede into vagueness. They're only something you seem to remember. Your old small self is gone and all his old enemies and friends and relatives and all his old experiences, bitter or sweet, have lost their power over him. They were like a cinema show... believable while he was in the theatre, but not when he came out into the daylight. Reality dispelled the illusion.

In Nirvana you're neither young nor old. You just are. And who are you? That's easy.

The Buddha.

[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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