Shih-tou Hsi-chien (700-790) was a very well known Chinese Ch'an master. As a young monk, he was one of the disciples of the Sixth Patriarch Hui-neng. After Hui-neng passed away, Shih-tou continued his pilgrimage...
He paid a vist...
HOW WOULD A ZEN MASTER REACT?
Visitor: If a zen master is passing by and see's a weak person is beeing abused and the zen master himself is physically weaker than the abuser, how would the zen master react?
CT: Do you believe this: Until he got to be in the situation right on the spot, a Zen master himself never dreams about what he would do? How about yourself? What would you do in the case?
Visitor: I did not under stand what you meant by do i believe this. As I am not a enlightend person I might just walk away. If you can not specify exctaly what a master would do please let me know if at all the master will intervine.
CT: Hi again. Yes. It seems that you did not understand what I meant. Maybe the short story below might help you to understand a little bit about what you'd like to know.
"One day the Buddha was about to cross a stretch of the country where a robber-and-killer whose nickname was Necklace of Fingers. He got this nickname because after he robbed a person he usually cut one finger of the victim and he made the fingers into a necklace and worn it around his neck. The Buddha was warned about this but he kept walking across the area where the Necklace of Fingers lived.
Seeing him, the Necklace of Fingers took his sword and ran after him.
However, the faster he ran the Buddha was still at the same distance from him in front. He was unable to catch up the Buddha.
After all, he shouted angrily behind the Buddha: -"Stand still, recluse!" -"You, too, Angulimala, stand still," the Buddha replied. -"You tell me to stand still but I am not walking," he shouted again, "whereas you who are walking say you are still. How is that you are standing still but I am not?"
The Buddha turned around and said: -"My legs move but my mind is still. Your legs are still but your mind move all the time in a fire of anger, hatred, and feverish desire. Therefore, I am still but you are not."
Struck and moved deeply by these words of the Buddha, Angulimala was awakened, threw his sword into a pit and knelt down by the Buddha's feet. -"Please liberate me," he asked.
This was a reaction of the Buddha but the real Zen masters - the off-spring of the Buddha - would react in the same way - not a repetition - in the similar situation as you set up in your first message.
In the history of Zen, there are many Zen masters reacted similarly in the situation in which other people's lives and their own were in danger of death.
With wisdom, they often could save the others and themselves. Sometimes they lost their own lives for the others'. Sometimes both of them lost.
Visitor & CT 08/25/01
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