A Small Measure of Peace – Hans Zimmer

Aesop’s Fox & The Grapes


One hot summer’s day a Fox was strolling through an orchard till he came to a bunch of Grapes just ripening on a vine which had been trained over a lofty branch.

“Just the thing to quench my thirst,” quoth he. Drawing back a few paces, he took a run and a jump, and just missed the bunch. Turning round again with a One, Two, Three, he jumped up, but with no greater success. Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour.”

When Mind Appears

From Seung Sahn’s The Compass of Zen

According to the Avatamsaka-sutra, your mind makes everything. It is very simple. We already talked about how our mind makes time and space. We talked about how your mind makes the same length of time either longer or shorter. Your thinking makes here and there, up and down, good and bad. Originally these things do not exist. They come from thinking. When mind appears, everything appears. When mind disappears, everything disappears. Our mind makes this whole universe. There is a famous story that explains this point.

A long time ago in Korea, there was a great Zen master named Won Hyo. When he was a young man, he had to fight in a terrible civil war. He saw many, many men killed. He watched helplessly while innocent women and children were also ruthlessly slain in the pointless give and take of battle. Lands were overrun and livestock slaughtered. This hit his mind. “Human beings have no meaning in this life,” he thought. “Why must we make so much suffering for ourselves and all beings?” so he decided that society was no good. In disgust, and yearning to find some answer to his deep question about the nature of existence, he shaved his head, became a monk, and headed for the mountains, vowing never to return until he had understood the absolute truth about the nature of existence. In a very short time, he fathomed the teachings of the great sutras. But this did not satisfy him. Even the Buddha’s own speech could not lift the heavy burden that lay on his heart like a boulder as he looked at the misery of everyday life. Seeing his condition, several of his friends told Won Hyo about a great Zen master in China who, it was reputed, had been completely enlightened as to the matter of life and death. Perhaps this master could help him. Together with another monk, Won Hyo packed away his sutras and, with backpack and straw hat, headed north across the mountains for China.

Won Hyo traveled on foot for many, many months. Although he was very tired and weak, his determination to find a teacher was unbending. One day, he ran out of water, and as night came he collapsed on the ground, very exhausted. He awoke in the middle of the night, gripped with thirst. As he groped around for something to drink, his fingers felt the edge of a cup, filled to the brim with water. Taking it with both hands, he gratefully drank the water, which Buddha himself must have sent to help him! The water felt cool and refreshing as it ran down his throat. Because he was so thirsty, it seemed like the most delicious water he ever tasted. Happy with his great fortune, Won Hyo settled back into sleep.

In the morning, Won Hyo woke and found beside him what he had taken for a cup the night before. It was a human skullcap in which some rainwater had collected. There were maggots and larvae moving around the sides. The skull wasn’t so old, too, so there were still bits of flesh clinging here and there. When he saw that, his stomach convulsed in nausea. Falling on all fours, Won Hyo’s mouth opened wide, and as the vomit poured out, his mind suddenly opened and he attained enlightenment. In that moment, he completely attained the true nature of his mind: Last night, since he hadn’t seen or thought anything of the water, it was delicious. But now, seeing the skull and thinking about it, the water suddenly became very bad and made him sick to his stomach. “Ah ha,” he realized. “Everything is created by mind alone!”  

Won Hyo realized that his thinking made the water good or bad, delicious or disgusting. Thinking makes things pleasant or unpleasant. Thinking makes the whole universe! Won Hyo attained this point and realized that finding a teacher in China was no longer necessary. He returned to Korea and eventually became the National Teacher. He is known as one of the greatest Zen masters in the history of Korean Buddhism.

Farewell – Tan Dun & Yo-Yo Ma

Seek Understanding Beyond Words

Master Po – Where is evil? In the rat whose nature it is to steal the grain. Or in the cat, whose nature it is to kill the rat?
Caine – The rat steals. Yet, for him, the cat is evil.
Master Po –  And to the cat, the rat.
Caine – Yet, Master, surely one of them is evil.
Master Po – The rat does not steal, the cat does not murder. Rain falls, the stream flows, a hill remains. Each acts according to its nature.
Caine – Then is there no evil for men? Each man tells himself that what he does is good, at least for himself.
Master Po – . . . a man may tell himself many things but is a man’s universe made up only of himself?

Diamond Like Vision

– Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within

“Develop a mind that clings to nothing” is a meditative maxim that comes from the Diamond Sutra, one of the wisdom scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism. The original Sanskrit name for this sutra refers to the diamond that can cut anything but cannot itself be cut. In this case, the word “diamond” refers to the keen discriminating edge of penetrating wisdom.

A large part of clear vision and diamond like wisdom is seeing everything exactly as it is with all its magical but ephemeral beauty. The wise mind understands the limits in hanging on to that which is transient and dreamlike. The awakened mind is free flowing, natural, and well rounded. It’s like Teflon – nothing sticks. On the other hand, the unawakened, ordinary mind is rigid, limited, and sticky like fly paper; the ordinary mind has corners and sharp jagged edges on which ideas get caught, hanging us up. Dualistic thinking is like Velcro; it takes two to tangle. Unitary vision is more like a crystal though which all forms of light can pass unimpeded.

In life this is played out when we find it difficult to shake off our thoughts or worries, as well as unable to get off our fixed positions and entrenched opinions. Even insignificant emotional memories don’t roll off; instead they get attached and stuck; sometimes they fester and rot in place. The unawakened mind tries to grasp and hold on to emotions and things, which by their very nature are fleeting; it’s like trying to grasp water between your hands.

If we understand that the cause of suffering and dissatisfaction is attachment, then it’s obvious that the remedy is simply letting go. This is an absolutely essential ingredient in the Buddhist recipe for wisdom and enlightenment. Why are we afraid to let go and let the natural mind just be as it is, radiant, free, and aware? Why do we hold on to the past and resist the fresh current of newness? Neurotic behavior is sometimes defined as a frozen pattern. It’s very therapeutic to thaw our frozen patterns and develop spontaneity and awareness of “what is” and the joy of the present moment. If you cling to nothing, you can handle anything. This is wisdom. Try to grasp this but lightly.

Let your mind flow, free from attachment to your belongings, ideas, agendas, schedule, passions – your very self identity, and develop the wisdom, self-detachment, and equanimity that realizes that all things are essentially equal. Each of us is unique, but we are not especially special; we are all interconnected notes in the same cosmic symphony. We may be differently shaped clay pots, but we are all made from the same mortal clay. Develop a god’s eye view and appreciate the wisdom of clear vision.

The Bridge – Anzan

Previous Older Entries Next Newer Entries