Jimyo's Summary

Suigan, thinking he had attained something of Zen, left Jimyo's monastery when he was still a young monk to travel all over China. Years later, when he returned to visit the monastery, his old teacher asked, "Tell me the summary of Buddhism?" Suigan answered, "If a cloud does not hang over the mountain, the moonlight will penetrate the waves of the lake. Jimyo looked at his former pupil in anger and said, "You are getting old; your hair is white and your teeth are sparse, yet you still have such ideas of Zen. How can you escape birth and death?" Suigan bent his head and tears washed his face. After a few minutes, he asked, "Please tell me the summary of Buddhism."

"If a cloud does not hang over the mountain," the teacher replied, "the moonlight will penetrate the waves of the lake." Before the teacher had finished speaking, Suigan was enlightened.

Suigan's answer to his teacher's question was beautiful and well said. But Jimyo, the Master, knew it was only words - a beautiful concept, philosophical and intellectualised. The teacher's anger forced Suigan to face the truth; his Buddhism was based on ideas, not experience. Very humbly, he then asked Jimyo what Buddhism is. Jimyo gave the identical answer, but only the words were the same. The word "apple" is not the true apple. Suigan finally tasted the apple.


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