Baizhang’s “Gate of Essential Nature”
During a work period at his monastery, Baizhang was ploughing the ground. A monastic heard the sound of the drum ending the work period. At that moment he held up his hoe, burst into laughter, and went back to the monastery.
Baizhang said, “Wonderful. This is Avalokitesvara entering the gate of essential nature.”
After Baizhang returned to the monastery, he sent for the monastic and asked, “What did you see to make you laugh like that?”
The monastic said, “I was hungry. As soon as I heard the drum, I returned to have the noon meal.”
Student: “Why did the monastic burst into laughter on hearing the sound of the drum?”
Master: “Every sound is a gate to the true-Self.”
Student: “Why did the monastic say, ‘I was hungry’ when he was asked by the master?”
Master: “Every sound is the sound of the true-Self.”
Realising that the ground you are ploughing with your hoe is the Pure Land is enlightenment.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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