One day when P'ang layman (740-808)was selling bamboo baskets at the market place of Hung-chou. Seeing a monk begging alms, he took out a cash and said:
-Can you tell me how to appreciate alms?
The monk had nothing to say.
WHAT IS YOUR ORIGINAL FACE?
The monk Hui-ming was one of those who were running after Hui-neng - the Sixth Patriarch of Zen in China - for the robe and bowl that had come down from the Buddha Himself, they were the symbols of Buddha Dharma transmission in Zen tradition. When he caught up Hui-neng, he said: -Practitioner Sir, I came for the Dharma (teaching), not for the robe and bowl. Hui-neng then said: -Since you have come here for the Dharma, you should shut out all objects and not conceive a single thought, then I will expound the Dharma for you. Hui-ming was silent for a long while. Hui-neng said: -When you do not think of good and do not think of bad, what is your original face? At these words, Hui-ming was greatly enlightened. Then he asked: -Is there any further secret teaching besides the one just now secretly spoken? Hui-neng said: -What I have told you is no secret. If you reflect inwardly, the secret is in you.
Adapted from "Phap Bao Dan Kinh" of Hui-neng" translated from Vietnamese
Note: What was called the "Original face" or the "Face before your parents were born or before grandmother was born" or the "True self" or the "True nature" or the "Self nature" or the "Buddha nature",... all indicate the same thing in Zen.
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