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Never Paint Again


 

Zen Master Yuechuan was proficient in painting. However, he insisted that buyers should pay first or he would not take up the painting brush. He was often criticized for doing so.

One day, a woman invited Zen Master Yuechuan to paint a picture for her.

Zen Master Yuechuan asked: “How much can you pay for that?”

“As much as you want!” answered the woman, “But I need you to improvise a work of art at my house.”

Zen Master Yuechuan agreed and followed her there. The woman was holding a banquet entertaining her guests. Yuechuan produced a painting with his best painting brush. After it was completed, he wanted to leave with the payment when the woman declared to all the guests in the house: “This painter values only money. His painting is good, but his heart is dirty. Money casts a shadow on its beauty. A painting produced by a man with a grubby heart doesn’t deserve to be hung in my parlor. It can only be used as decoration on my dress.”

She said as she took off her dress and asked Zen Master Yuechuan to paint on the back of the dress.

Zen Master Yuechuan asked: “How much can you offer for this?”

“Oh! Just name a price.”

Yuechuan quoted an extraordinarily high price and painted at her request. He left as soon as he finished it.

Many people may wonder why he was concerned with merely money. Zen Master Yuechuan felt nothing even when he was insulted. What was on his mind then?

It turned out that famine often struck the area where Zen Master Yuechuan lived. The rich were not willing to donate money to the poor. So Zen Master Yuechuan built a warehouse for food storage so that he could provide relief to people in need. In addition, his master expressed his wish to build a temple but died without accomplishing it. Zen Master Yuechuan wanted to fulfill his mater’s wish.

After Yuechuan fulled his master’s wish, he immediately threw away his painting brush and secluded himself from society. He never painted again. He only left such remarks: “It is easy to draw a tiger in so far as its skin, but it is hard to draw its bones.” Money is ugly, yet heart is clear.

People with a heart of Zen do not care praise or blame. Taking Zen Master Yuechuan as an example, he earns clear money to show solicitude for the poor and save their lives with his own artistic accomplishments. His work cannot be simply viewed as ordinary painting but Zen painting because he is not greedy for money at all but instead he is generous with money. But how many people in this world can understand his Zen heart?

 

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