After coming across Cecil’s comments on The Sound of One Hand Clapping I decided to reopen a thread on it because I found his comments insufficient. Significant events are often altered and morph into ritualized expressions that later interpreters find enigmatic and/or miraculous, even though there is a kernel of truth in them.
The story below is a half remembered and distorted version of a story I read many years ago that I posted at a Buddhist message board for a man who was disillusioned by his teacher. I wasn’t aware of how much my mind distorted the story and even who it was about until and I came across “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” link here at SDMB. The man Cecil says devised this koan/riddle was Japanese Zen master Hakuin (1686-1769), often considered the father of modern Rinzai Zen. The monk I wrote about in the story below turns out to be Chinese Ch’an(Zen) master Lin Chi (d.867) (Jap. Rinzai) founder of Rinzai Zen.
I inadvertently linked into SBMB seeking the origin of the word “sidekick” which I had always thought were cowboys riding together. I decided to use this curious set of coincidences to seek out like minded people, if any, here at SDMB on the path to Understanding. As you read through all this pay exquisite attention to see how your mind works through or against this posting for that is what the path to Understanding is all about, understanding how your mind works.
The Power Of Disillusionment
An intelligent young man began seeing through the ways of the world and became very frustrated and so he sought out a master to bring an end to his suffering. A monastery had grown up around a particular master made up of similar minded people seeking a way out of their suffering. The master was cryptic and difficult to understand since he resided in the realm of no effort. The new found friends of this young monk encouraged him to approach the master and hopefully get some direct teaching and then he could relay the message back to them.
The young monk approached the master in his cell and with great diffidence he bowed and sat before him and requested his understanding of the BuddhaDharma. The master simply looked at the young man and slapped him hard across the face. Shocked and humiliated the young monk fled the room.
When his friends gathered around him to get their second hand knowledge they too were shocked by the actions of the master.
“You tell me that I am the most intelligent monk here and that I might help you understand the Teachings and he slaps me! What kind of teaching is that?”
“Maybe it was just a test to see if you are sincere in getting the Dharma. You should go back and show him that you are still determined to get the Teaching.”
That made sense to the young monk and he later ventured forth to meet with the master.
He approached the master, bowed and seated himself before him, and again asked most humbly for his assistance in understanding the Dharma. The slap was swifter and harder than the first, followed by a rain of blows from the masters staff as the young monk was driven from the cell.
“The master hates me and humiliates me and I must now leave this place.” the young monk later told his friends. “Do you know of another master I might seek out?”
“Three days journey from here lives a former disciple of the master who is said to have realized the Truth. Maybe he can help you.”
The young monk left that very night too humiliated to face the other monks in the morning and set out to find the master’s disciple. Arriving late at the disciple’s dwelling place he asked for an immediate audience and created such a commotion that the disciple came out to see him.
Exhausted, humiliated, and agitated the young monk related his experiences to the enlightened disciple who broke into laughter upon hearing his tale.
“Why do you laugh and mock me?” yelled the young monk.
“Because that old crone really loves you!” said the disciple.
It took less than a second for the full realization of the master’s “teachings” to explode in his mind. Ignited by the remarks of the disciple, the “teachings” shattered his artificial sense of self. Totally free with his mind completely open the young master thanked the now astonished disciple and left to return to his master’s monastery.
Moving through the forest as free as the wind the radiant expression of the young master effortlessly arrived at his old master’s dwelling and without stopping burst into his cell slapping the master before the master could raise his own slapping hand. What is the sound of one hand clapping? Only the masters know and these two laughed as one into the night leaving the rest of the monastery bewildered.
On the path to the Truth of Suffering, disillusionment is valued by the wise for only ego can experience it. If the disillusionment is great enough and the ego can find no place to hide and no one to blame, then this artificial sense of self will shatter. On the path to freedom your friends and family are your enemies and your enemies are your friends.
If anybody has an affinity for this kind of stuff then check out my blog. I usually store most of my comments there.
To see how much I distorted his story see Venerable Master Lin Chi. He appears to be a SDBM kind of guy.