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Q. What does ‘being captured by patriarchs’ words’ mean?

Q. What does ‘being captured by patriarchs’ words’ mean?

A. This means to interpret patriarchs’ words just literally without grasping what is beyond the words. In this sense, it can be said that we are captured by the Bible and the Sutras as well as patriarchs’ words. This is often compared to looking at the finger instead of looking at the moon which the finger is pointing to. This is actually the main reason why few people attain enlightenment even though so many people read or study the Sutras and the Bible. That is why Buddha on his deathbed said, “Not a word have I said” for fear that people should be captured by his words, and why ancient masters would say, “You should look upon Buddha’s and patriarchs’ words as your enemy.”

Student: “If we should look upon Buddha’s and patriarchs’ words as our enemy, why should we read their books, or listen to masters’ dharma talks?”
Master: “Oh! How poor! You are captured by my words.”

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

#zen #meditation #zenmeditation #enlightened #enlightenment #zenfools #photography

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