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March 15, 2007


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Dear Brian,

It also nice how wealth to afford such things coheres with being so "enlightened."

Robert Paul Howard

So good!

On a cold winter night, a big snow storm hit the city and the temple where Dan Xia served as a Monk got snowed in. Cut off from outside traffic, the coal delivery man could not get to the Zen Monastery. Soon it ran out of heating fuel after a few days and everybody was shivering in the cold. The monks could not even cook their meals.
Dan Xia began to remove the wooden Buddha Statues from the display and put them into the fireplace.
"What are you doing?" the monks were shocked to see that the holy Buddha Statues were being burnt inside the fire place. "You are burning our holy religious artifacts! You are insulting the Buddha!"
"Are these statues alive and do they have any Buddha nature?" asked Master Dan Xia.
"Of course not," replied the monks. "They are made of wood. They cannot have Buddha Nature."
"OK. Then they are just pieces of firewood and therefore can be used as heating fuel," said Master Dan Xia. "Can you pass me another piece of firewood please? I need some warmth."
The next day, the snow storm had gone and Dan Xia went into town and brought back some replacement Buddha Statues. After putting them on the displays, he began to kneel down and burn incense sticks to them.
"Are you worshiping firewood?" ask the monks who are confused for what he was doing.
"No. I am treating these statues as holy artifacts and am honouring the Buddha." replied Dan Xia.

Robert, wealth has nothing to do with enlightenment in this Taoist teaching tale. Naturalness is the key.

The brothers could just as well have gotten blissfully absorbed in a bottle of cheap Gallo, or a single easy-maintenance girl friend.

What made them enlightened, in comparison to the holier-than-thou rigid brother, was their simple unpretentiousness.

They didn't pretend to be anything other than what they were, which left them open to knowing the cosmos as it is.

Obviously, it is more important to accept ourselves as we are than it is to mold ourselves to social expectations. Yet, this can be very difficult to do, since we are, after all, social animals, and seem to possess to some degree an instinct for "going along to get along". How are we to reconcile this need to be true to ourselves with our social nature, then?

so, what did you talk about at your CR class?

Dear Brian,

Thank you for your enlightenment.

Robert Paul Howard

Edward, I'll probably devote tomorrow's post to my talk. It went well. I even inspired myself.

As befits my Taoism subject, I learned that when I prepare the least, the presentation goes the best (this is the third year I've given a talk to the Comparative Religion students).

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