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Practicing Dharma in Daily Life

Every day, a devout follower of Buddhism picked up flowers from her garden and offered to the Buddha in the temple. One day on her way to the main hall she encountered Zen Master Wude, who was coming out from the Dharma Hall. Zen Master Wude said appreciatively, “According to the classics, people who often offer flowers to the Buddha will be bestowed with a dignified appearance in the next life, and you will receive the bestowment for your devoutness.”

The follower replied with happiness, “My pleasure. Every day when I come and pray to the Buddha, I feel my heart as calm as it has been washed clean, but when I return home, I feel upset. How can a housewife like me keep a clear and pure mind in such a noisy and annoying city?”

Zen Master Wude asked her back, “Since you offer flowers to the Buddha every day, I think you have some common knowledge of plants. I would like to know how you keep flowers fresh.”

The follower answered, “The way to keep flowers fresh is to replace the water and trim the stalk every day, because the stalk in the water is prone to rot, which will prevent flowers from absorbing water and then it will lead to withering.”

Zen Master Wude said, “This also applies to how to keep a clear and pure mind. The living environment is the water and we are the flowers. Only by purifying our bodies and our minds, improving our temperament, repenting, self-criticizing, and correcting our shortcomings constantly, can we obtain the essence of the nature.”

Hearing Zen Master Wude’s words, the follower thanked him joyfully, “Thanks for your inspiration. I hope in the future I can have the opportunity to experience the Zen life in the temple and listen to your teaching as well as enjoy the tranquility brought by the sound of bells and drums and the chanting of the supreme enlightenment.”

Zen Master Wude said, “Your breath is the chanting, your pulse is the sound of bells and drums, your body is the temple, and your ears are the supreme enlightenment. All of them bring tranquility, so why do you need to wait for the opportunity to live in the temple?”

An eminent monk in the past once said, “Any place bustling with noise and excitement can be the place for practicing Dharma.” As long as you get rid of the false relations and distracting thoughts, any place can bring you tranquility. Without getting rid of your false thoughts, even if you live in an ancient temple in a remote mountain, you are still unable to practice Buddhism. Zen Buddhists highlight “the present”, so why do you wait for tomorrow? As the saying goes, “You do not need a remote place surrounded by mountains and rivers to practice Zen as long as you put out the fire in your heart.”

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