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Keeping a Balanced Mind

                                                     Keep a Usual Mind


A Buddhist monk went to the Buddha hall and asked the Zen master: “Zen master, I spend much time sitting in meditation and chanting sutras. I go to bed and get up early and there are no distracting thoughts in my mind. I think none of your disciples is working harder than me, but why can’t I be awakened?”

The Zen master gave the monk a gourd container and a handful of crude salt, and said, “Fill the gourd container with water, put the salt into the water and make it dissolve. Then you will be awakened.”

The monk did exactly what he had been told. Very soon he came back and said: “The neck of the gourd container is way too narrow. I put the salt in it but it didn’t dissolve in the water; then I inserted a chopstick but couldn’t stir it. So I am not awakened yet.”

The Zen master picked up the gourd and poured out some water. The salt soon dissolved in the water with a couple of shakes. The Zen master said kindly: “Working hard all day long without leaving some room for a usual mind is like a gourd container full of water, which can’t be shaken or stirred. So how can salt dissolve in that container and how can you be awakened with that state of mind?”

The monk asked: “Instead of working hard, can laziness make one awakened?”

The Zen master answered: “The practice of Buddhism is like playing the Guqin. Strings break when tightened, or music won’t come out when strings are loosened. Being in the Middle Way and keeping a usual mind are essential to finding the path to awakening.”

The monk was finally enlightened.

Blindly clinging on to one thing doesn’t necessarily make progress. Learning mechanically without practice flexibly does you no good. Leave some room for yourself; leave some time for thinking. Being neither anxious nor tardy and being neither tightened nor loosened are key to attaining Buddha hood.


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