Nansen Rejects Both Monk and Layman

A young monk presented himself to Master Nansen without the traditional gesture of respect. Nansen commented, "You are too much of a layman." The monk then performed the traditional gesture of respect by placing his hands palm to palm. "You are too much of a monk," said Nansen. The monk did not know what to do next. When another teacher heard of this incident he commented, "If I were the monk, I would drop my hands and back off."

Young people are always iclonoclastic, and young monks in ancient days were no exception. This one challenged the teacher without formal respect. He thought he was free to do anything and need not abide by rules. But being free is not the same as being free from something. Man is free from the beginning; only his attachments bind him. If one clings to nothing, is not attached, then rules and regulations never bother him. Come or go, make obeisance or walk backwards - it makes no difference to a free person.


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