Mind Over Matter

Source : Few Zen stories contributed by Govind bhagwat.

After winning several archery contests, the young and rather boastful champion challenged a Zen master who was renowned for his skill as an archer. The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull’s eye on his first try, and then split that arrow with his second shot. “There,” he said to the old man, “see if you can match that!” Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

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Curious about the old fellow’s intentions, the champion followed him high into the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a rather flimsy and shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto the middle of the unsteady and certainly perilous bridge, the old master picked a far away tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean, direct hit. “Now it is your turn,” he said as he gracefully stepped back onto the safe ground.

Staring with terror into the seemingly bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log, no less shoot at a target.

You have much skill with your bow,” the master said, sensing his challenger’s predicament, “but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot.” (Take note of the tricks of the mind)

A poor man walking through the woods reflecting upon his many troubles. He stopped to rest against a tree, a magical tree that would instantly grant the wishes of anyone who came in contact with it. He realized he was thirsty and wished for a drink. Instantly a cup of cool water was in his hand. Shocked, he looked at the water, he decided it was safe and drank it. He then realized he was hungry and wished he had something to eat. A meal appeared before him.1

“My wishes are being granted,” he thought in disbelief. “Well, then I wish for a beautiful home of my own,” he said out loud. The home appeared in the meadow before him. A huge smile crossed his face as he wished for servants to take care of the house. When they appeared he realized he had somehow been blessed with an incredible power and he wished for a beautiful, loving, intelligent woman to share his good fortune.

“Wait a minute, this is ridiculous,” said the man to the woman. “I’m not this lucky. This can’t happen to me.” As he spoke…everything disappeared. He shook his head and said, “I knew it,” then walked away thinking about his many troubles. (Take note of the tricks of the mind)

The Buddha said: “A man beginning a long journey sees ahead a vast body of water. There is neither a boat nor a bridge. To escape the dangers of his present location, he constructs a raft of grass and branches. When he reaches the other side and he realizes how useful the raft was and wonders if he should hoist it on his back and carry it with him forever.2

Now if he did this, would he be wise? Or, having crossed to safety, should he place the raft in a high dry location for someone else to use? This is the way I have taught the dharma, the doctrine – for crossing, not for keeping. Cast aside every proper state of mind, oh monks – much less wrong ones – and remember well to leave the raft behind!” (Take note here how to use & set aside things, ideas, principles, systems as & when the situation arises)

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