The Way of The Warrior ~XV~


“True Dhyana”

To sit in Meditation
is not the only method
of practising Zazen.

“We practise Dhyana
in sitting,
in standing,
and in walking,”
says one of the Japanese Zenists.

Lin Tsi (Rin-Zai) also says:
“To concentrate one’s mind,
or to dislike noisy places,
and seek only for stillness,
is the characteristic
of heterodox Dhyana.”

It is easy to keep self-possession
in a place of tranquillity,
yet it is by no means easy
to keep mind undisturbed
amid the bivouac of actual life.

It is true Dhyana
that makes our mind sunny
while the storms of strife
rage around us.

It is true Dhyana
that secures the harmony of heart,
while the surges of struggle
toss us violently.

It is true Dhyana
that makes us bloom and smile,
while the winter of life
covets us with frost and snow.

“Idle thoughts
come and go
over unenlightened minds
six hundred and fifty times
in a snap of one’s fingers,”
writes an Indian teacher,
“and thirteen hundred million times
every twenty-four hours.”

This might be an exaggeration,
yet we cannot but acknowledge
that one idle thought after another
ceaselessly bubbles up
in the stream of consciousness.

“Dhyana is the letting go,”
continues the writer —
“that is to say, the letting go
of the thirteen hundred million
of idle thoughts.”

The very root of these
thirteen hundred million idle thoughts
is an illusion about one’s self.

He is indeed the poorest creature,
even if he be in heaven,
who thinks himself poor.

On the contrary,
he is an angel
who thinks himself hopeful and happy,
even though he be in hell.

“Pray deliver me,”
said a sinner
to Sang Tsung (So-san).

“Who ties you up?” was the reply.

You tie yourself up day and night
with the fine thread of idle thoughts,
and build a cocoon of environment
from which you have no way of escape.

“There is no rope,
yet you imagine yourself bound.”

Who could put fetters
on your mind
but your mind itself?

Who could chain
your will
but your own will?

Who could blind
your spiritual eyes,
unless you yourself
shut them up?

Who could prevent you
from enjoying moral food,
unless you yourself
refuse to eat?

“There are many,”
said Süeh Fung (Sep-po) on one occasion,
“who starve in spite of their sitting
in a large basket full of victuals.
There are many
who thirst in spite of seating themselves
on the shore of a sea.”
“Yes, Sir,” replied Hüen Sha (Gen-sha),
“there are many
who starve in spite of putting their heads
into the basket full of victuals.
There are many
who thirst in spite of putting their heads
into the waters of the sea.”

Who could cheer him up
who abandons himself
to self-created misery?

Who could save him
who denies his own

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 disposition 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,
“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.

“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.”

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.

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 he 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.

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.”

Tsai Kiün 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,
he 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.

Men of longevity
never carried troubles
to their beds.

It is a well-known fact
that Zui-o (Shi-ga)
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.

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.”

~ The Sword and The Mind, p. 114 – 119


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