Friday, February 13, 2015

Mumonkan, Koan 32: A Non-Buddhist Philosopher Questions The Buddha

photo: Leh Ladakh Tourism
A non-Buddhist philosopher said to the Buddha, "I do not ask for words; I do not ask for non-words." The Buddha just sat there. The philosopher said admiringly, "The World-honored One, with his great mercy, has blown away the clouds of my illusion and enabled me to enter the Way." After making bows, he took his leave.

Then Ananda asked the Buddha, "What did he realize, to admire you so much?" The World-honored One replied, "A fine horse runs even at the shadow of the whip."

The Buddha's answer suggests that someone who has trained their mind does not need to be to be told they are on the Path or told anything in order to learn. Just as the mere shadow of the whip is enough to make the horse respond, the enlightened mind needs no overt words or guidance.

Further, there is something in this koan about how what we have learned manifests itself in our behavior. When we learn something...truly understand it...then it becomes part of our nature. We do not need to be told or preached to or reminded. If a person has been enlightened or come to an understanding of something, then they need no words and that learning naturally manifests itself in their life and behavior. If that isn't happening or reminders are needed, then it has not been learned and we do not really know or understand it.

There's a big difference between saying words and living the meaning behind them.

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