The Temple

One day Hofuku said to his disciples, "When one passes behind the temple, he meets Chang and Li, but he does not see anyone in front of it. Why is this? Which of the two roads is better? A monk answered, "Something must be wrong with the sight. Nothing is gained without seeing." The Master scolded he monk saying, "Stupid, the temple is always like this." The monk said, "If it were not the temple, one should see something." The Master said, "I am talking about the temple and nothing else."

The temple here represents the reality of the world. The back of the temple is the world of phenomena and appearances, and the front represents the essence and the reality of the Dharma. When one passes behind the temple, one sees Smith, Jones, mountains, rivers. But when one goes in front, one sees nothing in particular. The monk protests that there is no profit in not seeing. Many modern people also say, "I believe only what I see." Hofuku scolds the monk for seeing only appearances and not the essence, the reality. The temple is always the temple, as it is, and nothing else. In Buddhism there is no gain or loss.


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