Monday, July 1, 2013

A Piece of Shit (Revisited)

Scott Bradley
Original post date: April 12, 2011

When a monk asked Yun-men (862-949) "What is the Buddha?" he replied, "A dried piece of shit."

Why 'dried'? What kind of shit? Are all things then the Buddha? Inquiring minds want to know. But the point, of course, is that the inquiring mind is the problem; the statement was meant, by way of shock, to direct the monk away from his obvious bondage to the 'understanding mind'. Only an intuitive knowing can experience things spiritual. And, according to both the Daoist and Zen traditions, this kind of knowing is possible only after the rational mind is silenced.

In Zen practice this is accomplished through meditation and the contemplation of koans (of which this is an example). The methods of the philosophical Daoists, however, remain a mystery (at least to me). This appeals to me because it allows me to find my own way or to pursue no way at all. Somewhere in the Zhuangzi it says, "The sage has no use for methods", and I understand this to mean that the way that she follows is the way that happens for her.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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