Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ummon - This staff is just a staff

The Reading:

Ummon held up his staff, and said, "We are told in the scriptures that an ordinary man thinks the staff is a real existence; that those of Hinayana [traditional Buddhists] take it as nothing; that those believing in the pratyekabuddha [those Enlightened without teachers or guides] take it as an illusory existence; that bodhisattvas [Mahayana Buddhism] say its reality is emptiness.  But I say to you, take the staff as just a staff; movement is movement; sitting is sitting, but don't wabble under any circumstances!"
Zen and Zen Classics, Vol.2, R.H. Blyth; p.132


The bracketed [] interpretations are mine.  I guessed.  Read this and let me know what you think:
Defining Mahayana.

More to the point, illusion is just illusion.  Often people will thrill themselves by proclaiming that everything is illusion, and clearly Ummon was having none of this.

When we say that something is illusion, it is a way to detach from it.  But there is no detachment in Zen.  Detachment is a tool to escape the world, and Ummon is telling us to stay firmly rooted in it.

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