As you search deeper into the world of life you begin to realize that the less complicated the more understanding you receive. Here is an example of a fable that pretty much tells it like it is—- if you want to pursue a Zen type life of mediation and understanding.
The Hound and the Hare ——- by Yin Zhao Shakya, OHY
Aesop, that wise old story teller of ancient Greece, lived a hundred years before the Buddha. He never heard of Zen, or Right Effort under the Buddha’s Eightfold Path. But the simple wisdom found in Aesop’s fables transcend time and religious preference. If we Buddhists of the modern world were to pause and reflect on the following Aesop’s fable, we might find some clues to guide us in our efforts to develop a spiritual life.
One day a hound, out hunting by himself, flushed a hare from a thicket and gave chase. The frightened hare gave the dog a long run and escaped. As the disappointed hound turned back toward home, a passing shepherd said jeeringly, “You’re supposed to be such a fine hunter! Aren’t you ashamed to let a little hare one-tenth your size get the better of you?”
“You forget,” replied the hound, “that I was only running for my supper, but the hare was running for his life.”
The hound was wise enough to know that he lacked the motivation of the hare. The hound knew that if the hare were to escape there were many other tasty treats in the bushes to replace it. But the rabbit, running to escape the finality of death in the jaws of the hound, had a lot more riding on the outcome of the chase. As the hound so wisely noted, the rabbit wanted to live more than the hound wanted to eat.
The importance a person attaches to a goal will directly affect the effort he puts toward reaching that goal. As a beginner, a person can approach Zen as either the hound or as the hare. If the beginner sees Zen as merely a method for coping with life, he is like the hound. Zen is simply a tasty meal, the convenient flavor of the month, that is easily replaced with other methods. If the beginner approaches Zen as a method of salvation, he is like the hare. The approach is one of complete effort, because the beginner realizes his life depends upon the outcome.
When I first approached Zen I was like the hound. I thought Zen would merely provide me a method for relaxation and poise so that I could cope with the stress and emptiness I was feeling. My approach to meditation as a hound was simple, if I didn’t get immediate results I gave up. I moved on to a different method until I became dissatisfied, and so on. I approached each meditation method with the same attitude that the hound had when it chased the rabbit. “Oh well, if this doesn’t work, there’s always something else.” It hadn’t occurred to me that Zen wasn’t merely a convenient quick fix, to be easily replaced or altered to make it work for me. I wanted to be able to practice Zen and still keep my egotistical life intact. I wanted Zen to be a method to help me relax and pretend I was happy while I fought for promotions at work, made lots of money, and become as popular as possible. In the back of my mind, I was just like the hound chasing and trying to catch the rabbit. I felt that if I didn’t ” catch the Zen”, I could easily move on to something else.
After taking the precepts, I continued to approach Zen as the hound. I dabbled in the different meditation techniques over the next couple of years, without really settling down to one method. Of course, during this period, I always felt that there was something wrong with the technique. The problem couldn’t possibly be with me or my lack of effort.
Then came the turning point in my life. I was in the Air Force and I received an assignment to South Korea. I had to leave my family behind and live in Korea for a year. I was required to live by myself in a small, plain barracks room. For the first month or so, everything was fine. My job kept me busy and I wrote and phoned home regularly. But then the loneliness hit. I would sit in my room during the weekends with absolutely nothing to do but feel miserable and lonely. I felt desperate and scared. I was at the bottom of life’s pit.
One day, with tears in my eyes, I sat on my pillow and prayed. I knew at that point that I couldn’t cope with the world without God’s help. I also realized that I had to help myself by approaching Zen with an honest effort. At that point, I picked a mediation method, worked hard to get the method right, and I stuck with it. I finally began to approach Zen as the hare being chased by the hound; I approached Zen knowing that my life depended upon it.
With my new attitude toward the chase, my meditation practice quickly improved and deepened. I don’t know how the rabbit felt when he safely “got to earth” but he couldn’t have been more euphoric than I felt after each of my meditation sessions. I pushed on and, using “right effort,” I achieved Samadhi within a few more months.
The Buddha spoke of right effort. He wisely pointed out that we are all subject to decay and that we must “seek our salvation with diligence.” If you’re like the hound, and see Zen as “just another meal among many,” you’ll give up too easily. When the newly learned meditation exercise doesn’t work after one or two sittings, you’ll move onto a new method, or even to a new religion.
To seek salvation with diligence is to approach Zen with the effort of the hare who is running for his very life. That’s what the Buddha meant by “right effort.” If you come to see Zen is as the hare sees it, as a race for salvation, you’ll stick with it until you’re safe in the hands of God. —— Zen Buddhist Order of Hsu Yun hsuyun.org
QUOTE: A small temple high on a mountain
Clouds and low hanging mist, layers of peaks;
A freezing spring flows over small pebbles,
Pure snow falls from tall pines;
Asking about the Dharma:
I regard poetry as false,
Disciplining my body:
I see wine as indolence;
I’m not ready to give up wife and children,
But I will site a house close to the front peak.
– Du Fu——–dailyzen.com
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Is There a Fish That Can Climb Trees? The Australian walking fish is most unusual. In the water, it swims just like any other ordinary fish. But on land, this fish behaves as if it belongs there, for it actually walks! Its gills are bent in such a way that it can stroll out of the water and even climb up into the low branches on a tree and sit there for hours. This strange fish manages quite well on land and even munches on insects it finds in the trees. —–bigsiteofamazingfacts.com
THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Sea Turtles! Ambassadors of the Sea
Earth’s seven species of sea turtle have survived more than 110 million years of evolution and geological change. Fascinating, charismatic and highly visible, they are bellwethers for the condition of the world’s oceans. As our oceans have been devastated by development and industry in the past century, so, too, have sea turtles suffered. Incidental capture in fisheries, destruction of habitat, pollution, consumption by humans and pollution are but a few of the forces that have endangered the biodiversity of marine ecosystems as a whole and the sea turtle in particular.
As such, the sea turtle is a precious ambassador — a strategic tool for engaging the public in marine conservation. Resounding the fate of the sea turtle to audiences across the globe, capitalizing upon the species’ unique character, the SWOT aims to generate far-reaching and long-lasting positive changes to the ways in which industries, cultures and individuals impact sea turtle life, oceanic ecosystems and marine biodiversity as a whole. Only through efforts by dedicated scientists, conservationists and sea turtle enthusiasts have sea turtles been safeguarded from extinction thus far. —–seaturtlesstatus.org
ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Animals and fishes have valuable lessons locked inside. Don’t throw them away—- as they may be the key to our future.
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