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  1. The Disadvantage of Anger
  2. The Fireflies
  3. Pines & Water Fowl
  4. The Master's Reproach

Joy of Zen

By Ven. Jueh Ming

Where are you?

On many an evening after supper, Zen Master Hui-Ming and his lay disciple Jen-Ping took a stroll in the woods. The master would often utilize these outings to enlighten his disciple.

One day after walking some distance, as darkness fell, Jen-Ping suddenly cried out, "Master! Look. The fireflies. Lots of them, twinkling like falling stars."

He was so excited that he could not contain himself.

The master queried sternly, "Jen-Ping! Where are you?"
"Master, I'm right here next to you," Jen-Ping answered.
"Are you sure?" The master asked

The fact is that Jen-Ping's mind was occupied by what he saw. He was distracted by the fireflies and lost in the illusion.

The Fireflies

Three years past since Jen-Ping studied under Zen Master Hui-Ming's guidance. Jen-Ping knew that he had to look inward to develop self-controlled judgment. He learned to harness awareness and keep it illuminated day in and day out.

Jen-Ping worked hard to discipline himself to cultivate every day in order to make cultivation a habit. Occasionally he was plagued with ignorance and anxiety.
When master tested him unexpectedly, he would become sidetracked and lose his awareness. Sometimes awareness was within him, but sometimes not .

One day as usual Jen-Ping accompanied master out for a walk after supper. It was gradually getting darker. Master pointed to the fireflies appearing in the woods and said to Jen-Ping: "Your mind is like a firefly. Its light darts and flickers in the darkness."

Pines & Water Fowl

One day the Master and his disciples strolled along the lake. Calm emerald water, stately immobile century old pines, and iridescent playful water fowl created a serene Zen-like picture of nature.

"Look what's in front of us!" exclaimed the Master.
"There are pretty ducks chasing each other." answered the disciples.
"Well, why didn't you notice the motionless pine trees?" rebutted the Master.

The moral of the story is the minds of sentient beings tends to notice and cling to what stirres and changes around them. The emerging thoughts derived from the attachments will dull their awareness. A life attuned to sensual stimulation prevents a person from experiencing the stationary tranquil Truth around us.

The Master's Reproach

One day the Master was invited to give a Dharma talk in the city. Jen-Ping went along to attend and assist the Master. During the talk, Jen-Ping carelessly made a minor mistake on the board when he wrote down the gist of the lecture.

Abruptly the Master interrupted the lecture and harshly scolded him before the entire audience, "how can you do something like that. It shows your lack of attention. Your mistake reflects insufficient effort in your cultivating to attain and strengthen your awareness."

Suddenly a deadly silence befell the lecture hall. The attendees were so astonished by Master's reaction wondering why the Master had belittled Jen-Ping so scornful.

After the talk one brave follower brought the incident to Master's attention.

"The purpose for the disciple to study under any teacher is not so much to learn Dharma as it is to learn how to cultivate one's way to liberation from the entrapments of mind and the gate of birth-death.

If the disciple can not accept his teacher's reproach it will not be easy for her/him to tackle birth-death in accordance with the Way and become liberated from them. If she/he can not accommodate his teacher's groundless criticism, how can she/he handle sentient beings later on ?" replied the Master calmly.

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