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Zen After The Restoration
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Let Go Of Your Idle Thoughts

[FN#263] A famous Zenist, Mu-go-koku-shi, is said to have replied to

every questioner, saying: Let go of your idle thoughts.

A Brahmin, having troubled himself a long while with reference to the

problem of life and of the world, went out to call on Shakya Muni

that he might be instructed by the Master. He got some beautiful

flowers to offer them as a present to the Muni, and proceeded to the

place where He was addressing his disciples and believers. No sooner

had he come in sight of the Master than he read in his mien the

struggles going on within him. Let go of that, said the Muni to

the Brahmin, who was going to offer the flowers in both his hands.

He dropped on the ground the flowers in his right hand, but still

holding those in his left. Let go of that, demanded the Master,

and the Brahmin dropped the flowers in his left hand rather

reluctantly. Let go of that, I say, the Muni commanded again; but

the Brahmin, having nothing to let go of, asked: What shall I let go

of, Reverend Sir? I have nothing in my hands, you know. Let go of

that, you have neither in your right nor in your left band, but in

the middle. Upon these words of the Muni a light came into the

sufferer's mind, and he went home satisfied and in joy.[FN#264] Not

to attach to all things is Dhyana, writes an ancient Zenist, and if

you understand this, going out, staying in, sitting, and lying are in

Dhyana. Therefore allow not your mind to be a receptacle for the

dust of society, or the ashes of life, or rags and waste paper of the

world. You bear too much burden upon your shoulders with which you

have nothing to do.

[FN#264] 'Sutra on the Brahmacarin Black-family,' translated into

Chinese by K' Khien, of the Wu dynasty (A.D. 222-280).

Learn the lesson of forgetfulness, and forget all that troubles you,

deprives you of sound sleep, and writes wrinkles on your forehead.

Wang Yang Ming, at the age of seventeen or so, is said to have

forgotten the day 'on which he was to be married to a handsome young

lady, daughter of a man of high position. It was the afternoon of

the very day on which their nuptials had to be held that he went out

to take a walk. Without any definite purpose he went into a temple

in the neighbourhood, and there he found a recluse apparently very

old with white hair, but young in countenance like a child. The man

was sitting absorbed in Meditation. There was something extremely

calm and serene in that old man's look and bearing that attracted the

young scholar's attention. Questioning him as to his name, age, and

birthplace, Wang found that the venerable man had enjoyed a life so

extraordinarily long that he forgot his name and age, but that he had

youthful energy so abundantly that be could talk with a voice

sounding as a large bell. Being asked by Wang the secret of

longevity, the man replied: There is no secret in it; I merely kept

my mind calm and peaceful. Further, he explained the method of

Meditation according to Taoism and Buddhism. Thereupon Wang sat face

to face with the old man and began to practise Meditation, utterly

forgetful of his bride and nuptial ceremony. The sun began to cast

his slanting rays on the wall of the temple, and they sat motionless;

twilight came over them, and night wrapped them with her sable

shroud, and they sat as still as two marble statues; midnight, dawn,

at last the morning sun rose to find them still in their reverie.

The father of the bride, who had started a search during the night,

found to his surprise the bridegroom absorbed in Meditation on the

following day.[FN#265]

[FN#265] O-yo-mei-shutsu-shin-sei-ran-roku.

It was at the age of forty-seven that Wang gained a great victory

over the rebel army, and wrote to a friend saying: It is so easy to

gain a victory over the rebels fortifying themselves among the

mountains, yet it is not so with those rebels living in our

mind.[FN#266] Tsai Kiun Mu (Sai-kun-bo) is said to have had an

exceedingly long and beautiful beard, and when asked by the Emperor,

who received him in audience, whether he should sleep with his beard

on the comforters or beneath them, be could not answer, since he had

never known how he did. Being distracted by this question, he went

home and tried to find out how he had been used to manage his beard

in bed. First he put his beard on the comforters and vainly tried to

sleep; then he put it beneath the comforters and thought it all

right. Nevertheless, he was all the more disturbed by it. So then,

putting on the comforters, now putting it beneath them, he tried to

sleep all night long, but in vain. You must therefore forget your

mental beard that annoys you all the time.

[FN#266] Ibid.

Men of longevity never carried troubles to their beds. It is a

well-known fact that Zui-o (Shi-ga)[FN#267] enjoyed robust health at

the age of over one hundred years. One day, being asked whether

there is any secret of longevity, he replied affirmatively, and said

to the questioner: Keep your mind and body pure for two weeks,

abstaining from any sort of impurity, then I shall tell you of the

secret. The man did as was prescribed, and came again to be

instructed in the secret. Zui-o said: Now I might tell you, but be

cautious to keep yourself pure another week so as to qualify yourself

to learn the secret. When that week was over the old man said: Now

I might tell you, but will you be so careful as to keep yourself pure

three days more in order to qualify yourself to receive the secret?

The man did as he was ordered, and requested the instruction.

Thereupon Zui-o took the man to his private room and softly

whispered, with his mouth close to the ear of the man: Keep the

secret I tell you now, even at the cost of your life. It is

this-don't be passionate. That is all.[FN#268]

[FN#267] This famous old man died in A.D. 1730.

[FN#268] Se-ji-hyaku-dan.

Next: The Five Ranks Of Merit

Previous: True Dhyana

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