John Suler's Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors
A monk set off on a long pilgrimage to find the Buddha. He devoted many years to his search until he finally reached the land where the Buddha was said to live. While crossing the river to this country, the monk looked around as the boatman rowed. He noticed something floating towards them. As it got closer, he realized that it was the corpse of a person. When it drifted so close that he could almost touch it, he suddenly recognized the dead body - it was his own! He lost all control and wailed at the sight of himself, still and lifeless, drifting along the river's currents.
was the beginning of his liberation.
People's reactions to this story:
"The dead body symbolizes his self-centeredness - his bodily desires and wants - which he must transcend in order to really find Buddha and the truth."
"I guess in order to find true spirituality, one must cast off this physical body. This guy's liberation came because he realized that his physical body had nothing to do with his pilgrimage to find the Buddha."
"You need to live your life for yourself, because one day you'll find yourself dead without having achieved anything you wanted out of life. You were too busy worrying about something else. What a waste!"
"Many times I have found myself heading towards a certain goal and then realized when I almost reached it that it really wasn't all that important. It was what I found on my way there that was important."
"Some people watch life pass them by - and they don't realize it until it's almost gone."
"Even when he was alive, he wasn't alive. He didn't realize that until he saw the corpse."
"I wonder if that corpse was his twin brother?"
"This story is very depressing to me - and it also doesn't make any sense."
"The man needed to find HIMSELF and not the Buddha. Seeing his own dead body made him realize that he had to search his own soul and not someone else's. He now knew that he could go on with his life and make it on his own."
"This guy wasted so many years of his life looking for this great Buddha, and for what?! He should make good of his own life and not spend it chasing after someone else, no matter how great they seem to be. He has to spend his life looking for himself!"
"Is this man being told not to look for death before his time?"
"He wasn't ready to receive Buddha. He still needed to search within himself."
"I think the Buddha knew that the monk was searching for him and this was a test to see how he would cope with their meeting and the meaning of that meeting."
"Does this mean you can only find the Buddha after you're dead?"
"Facing up to the reality of death enables one to live life more fully."
"He HAD found Buddha. Buddha had taken his soul into the afterworld. His soul was born as his body died. His soul was liberated by Buddha."
"This story is unbelievable. If I saw my own dead body drifting down a river I would check myself into a mental hospital."
|| True Self || Paradise || Wanting God ||