SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Fukanzazengi XCVI

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A group of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits, monks and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?"

The Buddha answered, "Once upon a time there was a certain king who called to his servant and said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

"When the blind men had felt the elephant, the king went to each of them and said to each, 'Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?'

"Thereupon the men asserted that the elephant is like a pot (head), winnowing basket (ear), ploughshare (tusk), plough (trunk), granary (body), pillar (foot), mortar (back), pestle (tail), or brush (tip of the tail).

"Then they began to quarrel, shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!' 'Yes, it's like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.

"Brethren, the king was delighted with the scene.

"Just so are these preachers, monks and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing.... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus."

Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift,

      O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
      'Preacher' or 'monk' as their honored name!
      For, quarreling, each to his own view clings.
      Such folk see only one side of a thing.

A Jundo Comment: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist, Conservative or Liberal Jew, Sunni and Shiite, Buddhist, whether Theravada, Zen ... Rinzai or Soto ... my own Lineage, myself: Do any of us see but swaths of the elephant, some narrow and some perhaps a bit more wide? Yet we debate and fight. Thus, we drop all thought of this and that ... leg or trunk or tusk ... and just sit, silently.

I beseech you, noble friends in learning through experience, do not grow used to images and doubt the real dragon. Apply yourself to the path which is directly indicated and straightforward. Revere people who are beyond study and free of the intention to achieve. Accord with the enlightened state of the buddhas. Be a rightful heir to the balanced state of the ancestors. If you practice the ineffable for a long time, you will be ineffable. The treasure-house will open naturally, and you will receive and use [its contents] as you like. [Nishijima]

Please, honored followers of Zen, long accustomed to groping for the elephant, do not doubt the true dragon. Devote your energies to the way of direct pointing at the real. Revere the one who has gone beyond learning and is free from effort. Accord with the enlightenment of all the buddhas; succeed to the samadhi of all the ancestors. Continue to live in such a way, and you will be such a person. The treasure store will open of itself, and you may enjoy it freely.[SZTP]


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