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MA TZU: THE EMPTY MIRROR

Chapter 10: Moon-face

 

Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             The Empty Mirror

 

OUR BELOVED MASTER,
MA TZU WAS ONE DAY TEACHING A MONK. HE DREW A CIRCLE ON THE GROUND AND SAID, "IF YOU ENTER IT, I WILL STRIKE YOU; IF YOU DO NOT ENTER IT, I WILL STRIKE YOU!"
THE MONK ENTERED IT SLIGHTLY, AND MA TZU STRUCK HIM.
THE MONK SAID, "THE MASTER COULD NOT STRIKE ME!"
MA TZU WENT OFF LEANING ON HIS STAFF.
ON ANOTHER OCCASION, HO PANG SAID TO MA TZU, "WATER HAS NO BONES, BUT IT EASILY HOLDS UP A SHIP OF A THOUSAND TONS; HOW IS THIS?"
MA TZU SAID, "THERE'S NO WATER HERE, AND NO SHIP-WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EXPLAIN?"
ONE DAY, IMPO WAS PUSHING A CART, AND MA TZU HAD HIS LEGS STRETCHED OUT ACROSS THE PATH. IMPO SAID, "PLEASE, MASTER, PULL IN YOUR LEGS!"
"WHAT HAS BEEN STRETCHED OUT," SAID MA TZU, "CANNOT BE RETRACTED!"
"WHAT GOES FORWARD CANNOT GO BACKWARDS!" SAID IMPO AND PUSHED THE CART ON.
MA TZU'S LEGS WERE CUT AND BRUISED. WHEN THEY WENT BACK, MA TZU ENTERED THE HALL, AND SAID, LIFTING UP AN AXE, "COME HERE, THE MONK WHO HURT MY LEGS A WHILE AGO!" IMPO CAME OUT AND STOOD BEFORE MA TZU AND BENT HIS NECK TO RECEIVE THE STRIKE.
MA TZU PUT DOWN THE AXE.
MA TZU NEVER LOST AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A POINT, USUALLY IN AN ENIGMATIC WAY. EVEN DURING HIS LAST ILLNESS HE MADE HIS WELL-KNOWN RESPONSE TO SOMEONE WHO INQUIRED ABOUT HIS HEALTH. HE SAID, "SUN-FACED BUDDHAS, MOON-FACED BUDDHAS."
ONE DAY, MA TZU CLIMBED MOUNT SEKIMON, THE MOUNTAIN CLOSE TO HIS TEMPLE AT CHIANG-SI. IN THE FOREST HE DID KINHIN, OR WALKING MEDITATION, FOR A TIME. THEN, SEEING A FLAT PLACE IN THE VALLEY BELOW, MA TZU SAID TO THE DISCIPLE WHO HAD COME WITH HIM, "NEXT MONTH, MY CARCASS MUST BE RETURNED TO THE EARTH HERE." AT THAT, HE MADE HIS WAY BACK TO THE TEMPLE.
ON THE FOURTH DAY OF THE NEXT MONTH, AFTER BATHING, HE QUIETLY SAT DOWN WITH CROSSED LEGS AND PASSED AWAY.
MA TZU HAD LIVED AT CHIANG-SI FOR FIFTY YEARS AND DIED AT THE AGE OF EIGHTY.

Maneesha, I have asked you to throw your migraine, and you did it. But you did it too close by, on poor Anando. She is my only link with the world. She is my news media, my television, my radio, my newspapers. I don't read anything, I don't hear anything, I don't see anything on the television. And because we were talking about the empty heart, your throwing was perfectly good -- but it reached into the wrong place, in poor Anando. It had to reach her head, but it has reached into her heart.
Her empty heart has received your migraine. Now, there is no such sickness in the whole world, and Doctor Indivar will be in immense difficulty to pull out the migraine from the heart. It is perfectly okay to have the mirror in the empty heart, but it is not right to have a migraine. There exists no medicine for it; Doctor Indivar will have to invent something-and I need her back urgently, because every morning, every evening she is my only contact with the world.
So as far as Anando is concerned, it is Indivar's priority. And just because she received the migraine with the open heart, she has earned great virtue. The next series that begins tomorrow will be dedicated to her. She did perfectly well in keeping the heart open, even when you were throwing your migraine away. Most people will close their windows and doors in such situations. But she is a great disciple, and she understands intelligently what it means to have an open heart, to live in insecurity, to live without any safety, to be homeless.
But Anando-you must be hearing me from your room-remember, no buddha has said, "Keep your heart open when somebody is throwing a migraine." You have done a miracle. There is an automatic system-if somebody is throwing dust at you, your eyes will close without any effort, on their own. And if somebody is throwing a migraine, naturally the heart will close. It will not receive it. But you dared to keep your heart open. You showed great courage. I can rely on you, that whatever happens you will keep your heart open. It may be painful, it may create anxiety, but that is only the beginning part.
Gautam Buddha is reported to have said, "What is bitter in the beginning is sweet in the end, and what is sweet in the beginning is bitter at the end." It is an immense statement about all those who are the people of the path.
The story Maneesha has brought:
MA TZU WAS ONE DAY TEACHING A MONK. HE DREW A CIRCLE ON THE GROUND AND SAID, "IF YOU ENTER IT, I WILL STRIKE YOU; IF YOU DO NOT ENTER IT, I WILL STRIKE YOU!"
This is something very special in Zen. In different ways masters have used that device. If you say something, I will strike you; if you don't say something, I will strike you. In any case you will get the hit. The same is the situation here.
Ma Tzu says, "IF YOU ENTER THIS CIRCLE, I WILL STRIKE YOU; IF YOU DO NOT ENTER IT, I WILL STRIKE YOU ALL THE SAME!" THE MONK ENTERED IT SLIGHTLY, AND MA TZU STRUCK HIM.
What is the point of this strange anecdote?
THE MONK SAID, "THE MASTER COULD NOT STRIKE ME!" MA TZU WENT OFF LEANING ON HIS STAFF, not even bothering to answer the disciple.
In any devices that are similar, in either case you will get the hit. It simply means that the hit is meant to awaken you. What you do is not relevant-whether you enter the circle or stay out of it, it does not matter, I am going to hit you! This simply means that whatever you do is not important; what is important is your awakening. The hit is to wake you up. If the disciple can understand what is being asked, he will be enlightened. The master is asking him to be enlightened, so that he does not need to be hit.
But the disciple missed. He said to the master, "THE MASTER COULD NOT STRIKE ME!" MA TZU WENT OFF LEANING ON HIS STAFF, leaving the student behind to meditate over what has happened. Ma Tzu used all kinds of devices spontaneously, but there is always a hidden secret. In the strangest incidents the awakened person will immediately see the hidden secret.

ON ANOTHER OCCASION, HO PANG SAID TO MA TZU, "WATER HAS NO BONES, BUT IT EASILY HOLDS UP A SHIP OF A THOUSAND TONS; HOW IS THIS?"
MA TZU SAID, "THERE'S NO WATER HERE, AND NO SHIP-WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EXPLAIN?"
He is saying, "Don't bring intellectual, philosophical questions to me. I am here only to bring existential experience to you."
I am reminded of a small story.
In a court there were two friends who were known in the whole city to be great friends, always together, but finally they were caught fighting and brought to the court by the police. And the magistrate asked, "What is the problem that created the fight?"
They both looked at each other and said, "You say it."
The other said, "Please, you say it."
The magistrate said, "Anybody can say it but just say it."
They said, "We are very embarrassed. We are ready to take any punishment if you allow us not to say it."
The magistrate said, "This is strange. I cannot punish you unless I know the crime. What was the reason for your fighting and creating chaos in the crowd?"
Finally they had to say it. One of them said, "Please forgive us. It is very philosophical, airy, abstract. We were sitting on the river bank and my friend told me that he was going to purchase a buffalo.
"I said, `I have no objection. Just remember that I am going to purchase a big farm. Your buffalo should never enter into my farm. I am a very strict person.'
"The other man said, `Your farm? Nobody can stop my buffalo. And I will see how you can stop my buffalo. You are my friend, you should welcome my buffalo; on the contrary you are going to stop it. What kind of friendship is this?'
"I said, `Friendship does not come into it. Business is business.'
"The man who was going to purchase a buffalo, he said, `Okay, I will see. Purchase the farm.' And I made a square on the sand with my finger and said, `This is my farm. Where is your buffalo?'
"The other man with his finger entered into my field and said, `This is my buffalo. Let us see what you can do.' That's how the whole thing started."
The magistrate said, "But where is the farm and where is the buffalo?"
They said, "That is the problem that we were embarrassed to tell you; it is a very philosophical thing. Nothing is there-no buffalo, no farm, just hot air. But we forgot completely that we were fighting about imaginary things."
You can laugh at it, but do you think...? People have been fighting over the existence of God-is it in any way different from the buffalo? People have been fighting over how many hells there are. The Hindus believe in one hell; the Jainas believe in three hells, because according to them one hell is not justified for all kinds of criminals. Somebody has just stolen a chicken, and somebody has killed a man. You cannot put both the men in the same hell. That will be unjustified. So they have three hells, according to your sin.
But Gautam Buddha had seven. He says that in three you cannot categorize all the crimes; at least seven are needed. But you will be surprised, another philosopher, contemporary to Mahavira and Gautam Buddha, Ajit Keshkambal, had seventy-seven. He said, "Unless you have that number of hells, it will be very difficult to categorize."
Now, nobody knows where this hell is... and they were fighting tooth and nail! And for centuries their philosophers have been fighting, trying to explain their position. For example Hindus have explained that the hell is one, but we can make divisions in the hell. You can make as many divisions as you want in one hell, what is the need of seventy-seven hells? Just make seventy-seven divisions in one hell. But you don't think that these people are idiots; these are great philosophers. But their problems about God... Nobody has met God, it is purely a concept.
And there are religions who don't believe in God. Jainism has no God, Buddhism has no God, Taoism has no God. God is not an essential phenomenon for any religion to exist. And then there are different descriptions of God. The Old Testament says that God is a very angry God, very jealous and very temperamental-don't annoy him. And God himself is reported to have said in the Old Testament, "I am a very jealous God. And remember it, I am your father, not your uncle. Don't expect any nice things from me."
And Jesus says, "God is love."
Hindus say, "God is pure justice"-because love cannot be just; it may love someone and forgive him, it may not love someone, or even dislike someone and punish him unnecessarily for sins that he has not committed. Love is not reliable. God has to be just, a magistrate with no likings, no dislikings.
This anecdote, when Ma Tzu says, "THERE'S NO WATER HERE, AND NO SHIP-WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO EXPLAIN?" has all these implications. Then don't get engaged in abstract concepts-those arguments and philosophical discussions are unending, and nobody has come to any conclusion.
The Christian God has a small family: the only begotten son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost-a strange family with no woman in it, unless this Holy Ghost is capable of functioning as a woman also. But certainly the Holy Ghost is not a woman because he is responsible for making Mary the virgin pregnant with Jesus Christ. And on the other hand, the Christians say that the Holy Ghost and God are one. So why separate them just for the sake of saving God from corrupting and raping an innocent girl? If they are one, then why not say, "God impregnated Mary"; why not make it straightforward? Why should God go via the Holy Ghost? Sometimes I think the Holy Ghost must be God's sexual machinery. So he is one, yet he remains outside and the Holy Ghost does the whole work.
Hindus say that their God has three faces, three heads on one body. Now nobody has seen... Perhaps in a circus you may see a distorted child, a freak who has three heads or four hands. But why should God have three heads? The reason given by the Hindu theologians is so that he can see in three directions. If man can manage with one head... perhaps God's neck is fixed, he cannot move this way or that way. Obviously he will need three pairs of glasses. And the weight of three heads on a body which looks exactly like a man's-it will be too much. He will not be able to stand up, and lying down also will be very difficult. Just think, how will he manage his three heads on one pillow?-unless those three heads are only attached and you can unscrew them, and put them off for the night and go to sleep.
But I don't think that such surgery has developed even today. And God has been there for eternity, and no scripture describes any surgeon who takes care of God's heads. The screws must have got rusted. And from where can he get a screwdriver? And you can be sure that three heads may not agree on any point, they will all have their opinions. I don't think that God can move even a single inch because the other two heads will not be ready. So he will remain fixed in one position.
But strange ideas... Hindus also have the idea that God has one thousand hands. Now, three heads and one thousand hands, who are you kidding? Even if you just visualize him, you will become afraid. He will look like an octopus, or something like it.
Buddhism and Jainism, seeing the difficulty of how to visualize God, simply dropped the idea; they don't have any God and they are perfectly living religions.
Ma Tzu is saying that he is not interested in anything that is not existential. That is Zen's special contribution to human consciousness. Don't be bothered about imaginary conceptual philosophical things, just pin down everything to existence.

ONE DAY, IMPO WAS PUSHING A CART, AND MA TZU HAD HIS LEGS STRETCHED OUT ACROSS THE PATH. IMPO SAID, "PLEASE, MASTER, PULL IN YOUR LEGS!"
"WHAT HAS BEEN STRETCHED OUT," SAID MA TZU, "CANNOT BE RETRACTED!"
"WHAT GOES FORWARD CANNOT GO BACKWARDS!" SAID IMPO AND PUSHED THE CART ON.
MA TZU'S LEGS WERE CUT AND BRUISED. WHEN THEY WENT BACK, MA TZU ENTERED THE HALL, AND SAID, LIFTING UP AN AXE, "COME HERE, THE MONK WHO HURT MY LEGS A WHILE AGO!" IMPO CAME OUT AND STOOD BEFORE MA TZU AND BENT HIS NECK TO RECEIVE THE STRIKE.
MA TZU PUT DOWN THE AXE.
Reading such anecdotes, one feels it is a very strange religion. It is not. Everything that is happening in these anecdotes has something essential, so that you can become aware of it.
First, MA TZU SAID, "WHAT HAS BEEN STRETCHED OUT, CANNOT BE RETRACTED!"
A father was telling to his son, "Everything is possible in the world"-he was quoting Alexander the Great.
The child said, "I don't accept the idea, and I will show you why." He went into the bathroom and brought the toothpaste and said, "I will bring the toothpaste out of the tube, and you put it back. You say nothing is impossible. This is impossible. I have tried."
Ma Tzu is saying, "WHAT HAS BEEN STRETCHED OUT, CANNOT BE RETRACTED!" In other words, he is saying that what has become exposed cannot become a secret again; what has come into the open cannot go back into the hidden. He is simply making a point that there are situations where you cannot go back.
When Henry Ford made his first car, it had no reverse gear. It could not move backwards, it could go only forwards. He had not thought about it, but it was a very difficult task. If you have moved just a few yards away from your garage, you have to now go around the whole city to come back to your garage. He added the possibility of backing the car later on.
A story is told that when Henry Ford died there was a great encounter between him and God. God said, "You are a great inventor and a man of great intelligence. Do you approve of my existence?"
Henry Ford said, "No, sir. Your existence is the worst possible, because you cannot go back in time, just forward. This is stupid. I had committed this stupidity myself, but it is not expected from you. Somebody wants to visit his childhood again-there should be some possibility to go back in time, or to go forward in time if somebody wants to know in advance what kind of old age, what kind of death is going to happen, and when. You have left man stuck in the middle; he can neither go back, nor can he go forward. He has no freedom of movement in time. I have great complaints, but this is my most basic complaint to you."
Ma Tzu is saying that if you have become a young man, you cannot become a child again. If you have become old, you cannot become a young person again. If you are dead, you cannot open your eyes and ask for a tea. He used every situation; and he used this situation to see whether the disciple is courageous enough to pull the cart over the legs of the master. Impo proved worthy.
"WHAT GOES FORWARD CANNOT GO BACKWARDS!" SAID IMPO AND PUSHED THE CART ON.
MA TZU'S LEGS WERE CUT AND BRUISED. WHEN THEY WENT BACK, MA TZU ENTERED THE HALL, AND SAID, LIFTING UP AN AXE, "COME HERE, THE MONK WHO HURT MY LEGS A WHILE AGO!" IMPO CAME OUT AND STOOD BEFORE MA TZU AND BENT HIS NECK TO RECEIVE THE STRIKE.
This is courage and this is trust. It was not in any way insulting to Ma Tzu. By pushing the cart forward he was not in any way humiliating Ma Tzu, he was simply sticking to his own opinion. If Ma Tzu is sticking to his opinion-and Ma Tzu's whole work was to give independence to the disciples... They should not take anything for granted from anybody else; they should decide themselves their lives, their actions, their gestures. Certainly he was following Ma Tzu when he pushed the cart over his legs.
Ma Tzu had one thousand monks in his monastery. He went to the hall for the assembly meeting. He had no idea who the monk was that had pushed the cart over his legs.
He simply said, lifting an axe, "COME HERE, THE MONK WHO HURT MY LEGS A WHILE AGO!" IMPO CAME OUT immediately AND STOOD BEFORE MA TZU AND BENT HIS NECK TO RECEIVE THE STRIKE.
He did not hide. He could have, because there were one thousand monks and it would have been very difficult to decide who was the person. But he came out, and if the master wants to cut his head, he is ready. He has come to the master to have a resurrection, to be enlightened, to go beyond death. If this is the way the master chooses, it is perfectly okay.
Seeing this humbleness and this trust, MA TZU PUT DOWN THE AXE.
MA TZU NEVER LOST AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A POINT, USUALLY IN AN ENIGMATIC WAY. EVEN DURING HIS LAST ILLNESS HE MADE HIS WELL-KNOWN RESPONSE TO SOMEONE WHO INQUIRED ABOUT HIS HEALTH. HE SAID, "SUN-FACED BUDDHAS, MOON-FACED BUDDHAS."
It is a famous saying in Zen circles. Whether you are facing the sun, which means life, day, or whether you are facing the moon, the night, which represents death-it does not make any difference to your buddhahood. Whether your buddha is in darkness or in light, it does not matter. Your self-nature remains the same. "SUN-FACED BUDDHAS, MOON-FACED BUDDHAS." In a very short aphorism, even at the point when he was going to die, he said, "There is going to be no change. Just the sun is setting and the moon will be rising. As far as I am concerned, I am eternal. Whether the sun is in the sky, or the moon is in the sky, I am always here."
The master knows no death. He knows eternity.
ONE DAY, MA TZU CLIMBED MOUNT SEKIMON, THE MOUNTAIN CLOSE TO HIS TEMPLE AT CHIANG-SI. IN THE FOREST HE DID kinhin, OR WALKING MEDITATION.
If you go to Bodhgaya, where Gautam Buddha became enlightened, you will find a temple raised in the memory of his enlightenment. And also, by the side of the temple, there are stones in a long line, and behind the temple is the bodhi tree where he used to sit. His meditation had two positions, sitting and walking. One hour you sit, silently watching your thoughts; then one hour you walk slowly, again watching your thoughts-alternate sitting and walking meditation.
It is a beautiful experience because soon you become aware that whether you are sitting or walking, whether you are awake or asleep, something in you remains constantly aware, the same. It does not become different when you walk, it does not become different when you sit. It does not become different even when you sleep; something like a small candle or light goes on burning in your sleep too. Your awareness has become a twenty-four-hour circle. This is the perfect enlightenment.
This walking meditation in Japanese is called kinhin.
THEN, SEEING A FLAT PLACE IN THE VALLEY BELOW, MA TZU SAID TO THE DISCIPLE WHO HAD COME WITH HIM, "NEXT MONTH, MY CARCASS MUST BE RETURNED TO THE EARTH HERE." AT THAT, HE MADE HIS WAY BACK TO THE TEMPLE.
ON THE FOURTH DAY OF THE NEXT MONTH, AFTER BATHING, HE QUIETLY SAT DOWN WITH CROSSED LEGS AND PASSED AWAY.
The master lives with awareness and dies with awareness. Even a month before, he was aware that death is coming close; his perceptivity, his clarity of perception, is total. So he showed the disciple where his dead body has to be brought, where his samadhi, his grave is going to be. One month before, he told the disciple, and the next month... ON THE FOURTH DAY... AFTER BATHING, HE QUIETLY SAT DOWN WITH CROSSED LEGS AND PASSED AWAY.
Death is just a game, moving from one body to another body, or perhaps moving from the body to no body, to the universal oceanic existence.
One night a thief entered into Mulla Nasruddin's house. He saw that Mulla Nasruddin was fast asleep and he collected everything that he felt was valuable. But Mulla was not asleep, he just did not want to interfere in somebody's work. He looked by opening one eye and then rested. As the thief was going out with all the valuables, he followed him. The thief looked back and became very afraid. He said, "Why are you coming with me?"
Mulla said, "Have you forgotten? We are changing our house. You are taking everything, so why leave me here alone? I am coming with you."
The thief said, "Just forgive me. Take all your things, sort them out, because I have brought things from other houses also."
Mulla said, "I don't want to sort it out. Either I come with you, or everything has to be put back in my house."
The thief said, "My God, you seem to be a greater thief than me! And why did you remain silent when I was collecting things?"
Mulla said, "I never interfere in anybody's work."
The thief had to leave everything-with tears in his eyes, because he had stolen many beautiful things from other places. He said, "Such a man I have never seen in my life... and to take you to my house, perhaps you will become the master and I will be the servant. I have my wife..."
Mulla said, "There is no problem, we can share everything. We are partners. Don't miss this opportunity of having a wise man as your partner." But the thief escaped leaving all the things.
As far as any master's death is concerned, he is simply changing his house. There is not even a single ripple of sadness, but on the contrary an immense curiosity about the unknown that is opening its doors. This body he has lived in long enough-seventy years, eighty years-it is time to change. The body has become old; it is becoming more and more non-functional. It is time to have a fresh new body.
The master is not at all disturbed by the fact that he is going to die. He dies with grace and beauty, he dies in silence and peace-just the way he has lived. He lived in silence, in utter beatitude, he dies in tremendous benediction.
MA TZU HAD LIVED AT CHIANG-SI FOR FIFTY YEARS AND DIED AT THE AGE OF EIGHTY.

A haiku:
BOTH PLAINS AND MOUNTAINS HAVE BEEN
CAPTURED BY THE SNOW-
THERE IS NOTHING LEFT.

A haiku is a special form of poetry which exists only in Japan. It has very few words but it tells much. Its beauty is that it is a condensed philosophy. And what cannot be said in prose, can sometimes be said in poetry.
BOTH PLAINS AND MOUNTAINS HAVE BEEN CAPTURED BY THE SNOW-THERE IS NOTHING LEFT.
He is describing his own being. Everything has been taken away. Even he has disappeared into the vastness of the universe; nothing is left behind. Just as a dewdrop disappears into the ocean, a man of enlightenment disappears into the universal consciousness. Nothing is left behind.


 

Next: Chapter 10: Moon-face, Question 1

 


Energy Enhancement             Enlightened Texts             Zen             The Empty Mirror

 

 

Chapters:

 

 

 

ENERGY

ENHANCEMENT MEDITATION

MEDITATION HEAD

 HOME PAGE

 

GAIN ENERGY APPRENTICE LEVEL1

THE ENERGY BLOCKAGE REMOVAL PROCESS

LEVEL2

THE KARMA CLEARING PROCESS APPRENTICE LEVEL3

MASTERY OF  RELATIONSHIPS TANTRA APPRENTICE LEVEL4

 

STUDENTS EXPERIENCES  2005 AND 2006

 

MORE STUDENTS EXPERIENCES

 - FIFTY FULL TESTIMONIALS

2003 COURSE

 
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