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Niutou and the Fourth Ancestor

Niutou and the Fourth Ancestor

Nanquan was once asked by a monastic, “Before Niutou met the Fourth Ancestor, why did hundreds of birds hold flowers in their beaks and offer them to him?” Nanquan said, “With each step, Niutou climbed the Buddha ladder.” The monastic said, “Why didn’t the birds offer flowers after Niutou met the Fourth Ancestor?” Nanquan said, “Even if he had not climbed the Buddha ladder, he’s still on Master Nanquan’s single road.”

Student: “What did Nanquan mean by saying, ‘With each step, Niutou climbed the Buddha ladder’?”
Master: “He meant that Niutou was serving Buddha.”
Student: “What did Nanquan mean by saying, ‘Even if he had not climbed the Buddha ladder, he’s still on Master Nanquan’s single road’?”
Master: “He meant that Niutou killed Buddha.”

Commentary:
However precious a thing you may have, it is not as good as having nothing.
However great a thing you may say, it is not as good as keeping silent.
It’s because Buddha dislikes saying and having things so much that he runs away the moment you have or say even ‘Buddha’.

©Boo Ahm
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway http://ow.ly/i/CnNxF

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