Say one word with your mouth shut - quotes and stories


When a fish swims it swims on and on and there is no end to the water. When a bird flies, it flies on and on and there is no end to the sky. There was never a fish that swam out of the water, or a bird that flew out of the sky. When they need a little water or sky, they use just a little; when they need a lot, they use a lot. Thus they use all of it at every moment, and in every place they have perfect freedom.

Dogen




We say atoms are bound by weak attractors. Why not admit the truth: the Universe is held together by love.

Michio Von Kerr, physicist



Each of us literally chooses, by his way of attending to things, what sort of a universe he shall appear to himself to inhabit.

William James



When you meet a master swordsman, show him your sword.

When you meet a man who is not a poet, do not show him your poem.

Lin-Chi



All final spiritual reference is to the silence beyond sound...It can be spoken of as the great silence, or as the void, or as the transcendent absolute.

Joseph Campbell



When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you will discover that simple, childlike, and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Block: Life is Fun.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff



The field is vacant and wide open. It is something one has had from the very beginning. You must purify and correct it; clean it off; get rid of all deluded conditioning and illusory habits. You will naturally arrive at a place that is clean and pure, full and bright.

Hongzhi Zhenjue, The Boundless Field



Like a meteor, like darkness, as a flickering lamp, An illusion, like hoar-frost or a bubble, Like clouds, a flash of lightning, or a dream: So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

Thus spoke Buddha. Taken from The Diamond Sutra



How can I use a gourd?

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "The king of Wei gave me some seeds of a huge gourd. I planted them, and when they grew up, the fruit was big enough to hold five piculs. I tried using it for a water container, but it was so heavy I couldn't lift it.

I split it in half to make dippers, but they were so large and unwieldy that I couldn't dip them into anything. It's not that the gourds weren't fantastically big-but I decided they were no use and so I smashed them to pieces."

Chuang Tzu said, "You certainly are dense when it comes to using big things! In Sung there was a man who was skilled at making a salve to prevent chapped hands, and generation after generation his family made a living by bleaching silk in water,

A traveler heard about the salve and offered to buy the prescription for a hundred measures of gold. The man called everyone to a family council. 'For generations we've been bleaching silk and we've never made more than a few measures of gold,' he said. 'Now if we sell our secret, we can make a hundred measures in one morning. Let's let him have it!"

The traveler got the salve and introduced it to the king of Wu, who was having trouble with the state of Yueh. The kind put the man in charge of his troops, and that Winter they fought a naval battle with the men of Yueh and gave them a bad beating. A portion of the conquered territory was awarded to the man as a fief.

The salve had the power to prevent chapped hands in either case; but one man used it to get a fief, while the other one never got beyond silk bleaching-because they used it in different ways.

Now you had a gourd big enough to hold five piculs. Why didn't you think of making it into a great tub so you could go floating around the rivers and lakes, instead of worrying because it was too big and unwieldy to dip into things!

Obviously you still have a lot of underbrush in your head!"




What can I do with an old tree?

Hui Tzu said to Chuang Tzu, "I have a big tree named ailanthus. Its trunk is too gnarled and bumpy to apply a measuring line to, its branches too bent and twisty to match up to a compass or square. You could stand it by the road and no carpenter would look at it twice. Your words, too, are big and useless, and so everyone alike spurns them!"

Chuang Tzu said, "Maybe you've never seen a wildcat or a weasel. It crouches down and hides, watching for something to come along. It leaps and races east and west, not hesitating to go high or low-until it falls into the trap and dies in the net.

Then again there's the yak, big as a cloud covering the sky. It certainly knows how to be big, though it doesn't know how to catch rats.

Now you have this big tree and you're distressed because it's useless.

Why don't you plant it in Not-Even-Anything Village, or the field of Broad-and-Boundless, relax and do nothing by its side, or lie down for a free and easy sleep under it? Axes will never shorten its life, nothing can ever harm it. If there's no use for it, how can it come to grief or pain?"



Three in the morning

Discussion On Making All Things Equal

But to wear out your brain trying to make things into one without realizing that they are all the same-this is called "three in the morning." What do I mean by "three in the morning"?

When the monkey trainer was handing out acorns, he said, "You get three in the morning and four at night," This made all the monkeys furious.

"Well, then," he said, "you get four in the morning and three at night." The monkeys were all delighted.

There was no change in the reality behind the words, and yet the monkeys responded with joy and anger. Let them, if they want to.

So the sage harmonizes with both right and wrong and rests in Heaven the Equalizer. This is called walking two roads.






Making all things equal

Discussion On Making All Things Equal

Now let me ask you some questions. If a man sleeps in a damp place, his back aches and he ends up half paralyzed, but is this true of a loach? If he lives in a tree, he is terrified and shakes with fright, but is this true of a monkey? Of these three creatures, then, which one knows the proper place to live?

Men eat the flesh of grass-fed and grain-fed animals, deer eat grass, centipedes find snakes tasty, and hawks and falcons relish mice.

Of these four, which knows how food ought to taste?

Monkeys pair with monkeys, deer go out with deer, and fish play around with fish. Men claim that Mao-chi'iang and Lady Li were beautiful, but if fish saw them they would dive to the bottom of the stream, if birds saw them they would fly away, and if deer saw them they would break into a run. Of these four, which knows how to fix the standard of beauty for the world?

The way I see it, the rules of benevolence and righteousness and the paths of right and wrong are all hopelessly snarled and jumbled.

How could I know anything about such discriminations?"




How to carve an ox

The Secret of Caring for Life

Cook Ting was cutting up an ox for Lord Wen-hui. At every touch of his hand, every heave of his shoulder, every move of his feet, every thrust of his knee-zip! zoop! He slithered the knife along with a zing, and all was in perfect rhythm, as though he were performing the dance of the Mulberry Grove or keeping time to the Ching-shou music.

"Ah, this is marvelous!" said Lord Wen-hui. "Imagine skill reaching such heights!"

Cook Ting laid down his knife and replied, "What I care about is the Way, which goes beyond skill. When I first began cutting up oxen, all I could see was the ox itself. After three years I no longer saw the whole ox.

And now-now I go at it by spirit and don't look with my eyes, Perception and understanding have come to a stop and spirit moves where it wants. I go along with the natural makeup, strike in the big hollows, guide the knife through the big openings, and follow things as they are. So I never touch the smallest ligament or tendon, much less a main joint.

"A good cook changes his knife once a year-because he cuts. A mediocre cook changes his knife once a month-because he hacks. I've had this knife of mine for nineteen years and I've cut up thousands of oxen with it, and yet the blade is as good as thought it had just come from the grindstone.

There are spaces between the joints, and the blade of the knife has really no thickness into such spaces, then there's plenty of room-more than enough for the blade to play about in. That's why after nineteen years the blade of my knife is still as good as when it first came from the grindstone."

"However, whenever I come to a complicated place, I size up the difficulties, tell myself to watch out and be careful, keep my eyes on what I'm doing, work very slowly, and move the knife with the greatest subtlety until-flop! the whole thing comes apart like a clod of earth crumbling to the ground.

I stand there holding the knife and look all around me, completely satisfied and reluctant to move on, and then I wipe off the knife and put it away."

"Excellent!" said Lord Wen-hui. "I have heard the words of Cook Ting and learned how to care for life!"




He who knows other men is discerning; he who knows himself is intelligent.
He who overcomes others is strong; he who overcomes himself is mighty.
He who is satisfied with his lot is rich; he who goes on acting with energy has a (firm) will.

He who does not fail in the requirements of his position, continues long; he who dies and yet does not perish, has longevity.



Man at his birth is supple and weak; at his death, firm and strong. (So it is with) all things.

Trees and plants, in their early growth, are soft and brittle; at their death, dry and withered.

Thus it is that firmness and strength are the concomitants of death; softness and weakness, the concomitants of life.

Hence he who (relies on) the strength of his forces does not conquer; and a tree which is strong will fill the out-stretched arms, (and thereby invites the feller.)

Therefore the place of what is firm and strong is below, and that of what is soft and weak is above.



There is nothing in the world more soft and weak than water, and yet for attacking things that are firm and strong there is nothing that can take precedence of it;--for there is nothing (so effectual) for which it can be changed.

Every one in the world knows that the soft overcomes the hard, and the weak the strong, but no one is able to carry it out in practice.

Words that are strictly true seem to be paradoxical.



Peace is easily maintained;
Trouble is easily overcome before it starts.
The brittle is easily shattered;
The small is easily scattered.


Deal with it before it happens.
Set things in order before there is confusion.


A tree as great as a man's embrace springs up from a small shoot;
A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles starts under one's feet.

He who acts defeats his own purpose;
He who grasps loses.
The sage does not act, and so is not defeated.
He does not grasp and therefore does not lose.

People usually fail when they are on the verge of success.
So give as much care to the end as to the beginning;
Then there will be no failure.

Therefore the sage seeks freedom from desire.
He does not collect precious things.
He learns not to hold on to ideas.
He brings men back to what they have lost.
He help the ten thousand things find their own nature, But refrains from action.



The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.


Gerard Manley Hopkins



Simplicity without a name
Is free from all external aim.
With no desire, at rest and still,
All things go right as of their will.



Thirty spokes meet at a nave;
Because of the hole we may use the wheel.
Clay is moulded into a vessel;
Because of the hollow we may use the cup.
Walls are built around a hearth;
Because of the doors we may use the house.
Thus tools come from what exists,
But use from what does not.



The enlightened possess understanding
So profound they can not be understood.
Because they cannot be understood
I can only describe their appearance:

Cautious as one crossing thin ice,
Undecided as one surrounded by danger,
Modest as one who is a guest,
Unbounded as melting ice,
Genuine as unshaped wood,
Broad as a valley,
Seamless as muddy water.

Who stills the water that the mud may settle,
Who seeks to stop that he may travel on,
Who desires less than what may transpire,
Decays, but will not renew.



To what shall
I liken the world?
Moonlight, reflected
In dewdrops.
Shaken from a crane's bill.

Dogen



If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. 
Without a cloud there will be no water; without water,
the trees cannot grow; and without trees, you cannot make paper. 
So the cloud is in here.  The existence of this page is dependent upon the existence of a cloud. 
Paper and cloud are so close.

Thich Nhat Hahn                

 

Only the idea of self remains
Floating on a sea of cells;
Only heartbeats short of eternity
In breath after breath we dwell.
Mike Garofalo, Above the Fog  

 

When the mind is at peace,
the world too is at peace.
Nothing real, nothing absent.
Not holding on to reality,
not getting stuck in the void,
you are neither holy or wise, just
an ordinary fellow who has completed his work.
Layman Pang-yun (740-808)              



The old pond,
A frog jumps in:.
Plop!


Basho



Past mind can't be grasped,
Present mind can't be grasped,
Future mind can't be grasped.
With which mind will you drink this tea?