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Grinding Brick into Mirror

At the age of twelve, Mazu Daoyi went to Mount Heng in Hunan Province and became a Buddhist monk as a disciple of Zen Master Huairang.

One day, Zen Master Huairang found Daoyi sitting there practicing meditation all day, and he thought it a good chance to inspire Daoyi, so he asked, “Why are you sitting there and meditating all day long?”

Daoyi answered, “I want to become a Buddha.”

Zen Master Huairang picked up a piece of brick and ground it on a stone beside Daoyi.

Daoyi was disturbed by the noise and lost his peace, so he asked, “Master, why do you grind the brick?”

Zen Master Huairang said, “I want to turn it into a mirror.”

Daoyi wondeed, “How can a piece of brick be ground into a mirror?”

Zen Master Huairang said, “As a brick can’t be ground into a mirror, how can you become a Buddha by sitting in meditation?”

Daoyi was bewildered, “Then how can I become a Buddha?”

Zen Master Huairang said, “Think about this. When a cart is pulled by an ox, if the cart stops, will you complain about the cart or the ox?”

Daoyi became silent and did not reply.

Zen Master Huairang continued, “Do you want to learn sitting in meditation or becoming a sitting Buddha? If it is the former, Zen is not about sitting or lying. If it is the latter, the Buddha has no fixed shapes. For changeable things, you should not adopt a fixed attitude of acceptance or rejection. If you learn to be a sitting Buddha, you miss the meaning of the Buddha; if you care too much about the posture of sitting, you are going the wrong way. ”

After listening to Zen Master Huairang’s teaching, Daoyi felt inspired and refreshed.

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