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One and Two

In the history of Chinese Buddhism, Taoists and Buddhists often argued and competed with each other.

A Taoist said to Zen Master Fayin, “Your Buddhism will never be as good as our Taoism because the optimal situation of Buddhism is all about ‘one mind’, ‘one method’, ‘one true dharma realm’, ‘one Buddha, one Tathagata’. All of these have only ‘one’ aspect. But everything in our Taoism has ‘two’ aspects. ‘Two’ is better than ‘one’, for example, our ‘qian-kun’, ‘yin-yang’ and etc.. All of these have ‘two’ aspects. To be honest, our ‘two’ is much better than your ‘one’.”

Zen Master Fayin then asked with doubt, “Really? Can your ‘two’ transcend ‘one’?”

The Taoist said, “As long as you can come up with ‘one’ thing, I can make it ‘two’, so I can surely win.”

 Zen Master Fayin then lifted up one of his legs and crossed it to the other, saying unhurriedly, “Now I lift up one leg. Can you lift up two?”

The Taoism was left speechless.

The recorded four persecutions in the history of Chinese Buddhism, with three executed by Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei Dynasty, Emperor Wu of Northern Zhou Dynasty, Emperor Wuzong of Tang Dynasty respectively and one by Emperor Shizong of latter Zhou Dynasty, were, to a large extent, given rise to by the animosity from Taoists to Buddhism. In the West, there are fights between the traditional and new Christianity, and in India fights also exist between Brahmanism and Islam. Buddhism advocates peace, but still is incompatible with Taoism. Even the discussion of “one” and “two” turns into a dispute. However, Zen Master Fayin’s prompt and wise rebuttal turns out to be a smart application of Zen.

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