Cutting through the River of Thoughts

Yutang Lin

Wishing to offer a globe made of gem stones to dear Guru,
Considering this and that he became hesitated and so asked,
Without any desire for this or that, Guru replied, "I want it!"
Cutting through his river of thoughts to rescue him alive!


Disciple Yong Lee wanted to offer me a small globe made of gem stones. But he considered this and considered that, and thus became hesitant about whether it would be appropriate or not. So he sent me an email explaining all his considerations in detail, and sought my advice on what to do. I simply replied: I want it!

After the globe had arrived here, then I told him that, in fact, I did not have intention to have or not to have the offering. I was simply using such a reply to cut through his sorrow of considerations so as to rescue him from such a siege. People who are used to much consideration would become hesitant even in cases of doing good or doing what one should according to the Dharma. If one could be free from the bondage of thoughts (personal views also belong to "self-centered"), only then could one live a life lively.

In Chan (Zen) Gong An's (koan) the response of a Chan master should also be comprehended like the above. The intention is not in the words used; it was simply a natural response aiming at rescuing the besieged. For example, a monk asked, "Does a dog have Buddha Nature or not?" Zhao Zhou replied, "No."

Written in Chinese and translated on March 6, 2007
El Cerrito, California

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