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Asking for the Eyes

While Master Yunyan was weaving straw sandals, Master Dongshan passed by and said,
“Master! Can I ask you for one thing?”
Master Yunyan answered, “Just name it.”
“I am asking for your eyes,” said Dongshan abruptly.
“My eyes?” Yunyan replied calmly, “What happened to your own eyes?”
“I don’t have eyes!” said Dongshan.
With a brief smile, Master Yunyan said, “What will do you with them if you have eyes?”
Dongshan was left speechless.
Yunyan then turned solemn and said, “The way I see it, the eyes you asked for should be yours rather than mine.”
Dongshan changed his tone and said, “In fact I was not asking for eyes.”
Fed up with Dongshan’s inconsistency, Yunyan shouted at him, “Get out!”
Dongshan was not surprised. Still, he genuinely said, “Fine, but without eyes I can’t see the road ahead.”
With a touch on the chest, Master Yunyan said, “Why did you say so? I have given you what you asked for, haven’t I?”
Finally Dongshan was enlightened by Yunyan’s words.
It is weird for Master Dongshan to ask for someone else’s eyes. At the beginning, Master Yunyan, wise as he was, had to tell Dongshan not to do so as he had his own eyes in the head. At last, after he realized what Dongshan asked for were not the eyes in the head, Yunyan then pointed out the wisdom in the idea of “the eyes of the mind”, which in the end enlightened Dongshan.
All things in the world, long or short, square or round, green or red or white, can be seen with the eyes in the head. These things are merely observed in a superficial and changeable way. However, only with the eyes of the mind can one look into the noumenon of the universe in a general and consistent way. That explains why Dongshan cannot see the way ahead even with eyes in the head. The way ahead is what things should be, that is, the aim for attaining Buddhahood. When Yunyan explained to him the wisdom in the eyes of the mind, Dongshan was enlightened.

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