Living Alone

A monk asked Ungo, "How can I live alone at the top of the mountain?" Ungo answered, "Why do you give up your Zendo in the valley and climb the mountain?"

This koan is appropriate both for monks and modern people. How would it be if I isolated myself? There would be no one to bother me; everything would be quiet and serene. Many people wish to escape. Ungo answered, in effect, that the problem is a restless mind, relative thinking. The very Zendo in the valley is the top of the mountain.

Many think that heaven or happiness is elsewhere. Many think that learning Zen or self-discipline is the way to a life different from the one they are now living. But to become good is not to take away the bad. Actually, the bad turns into good. Hardship and difficulties are the source of real appreciation in life. The more ice there is, the more water, The more trouble, the greater the appreciation of life. But people still think that place or situation is the cause of trouble. If one carries the same mind and attitude, wherever one goes, there also go the troubles.


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