The Wind and the Banner

Dec 14, 2017 | Tao du Jour

”Two monks were standing under a pole from which hung a banner. The banner was waving in the breeze and the two monks were arguing over whether it was the breeze or the banner that was moving.

They had spent the whole morning arguing like this. These two monks loved nothing more than to have a good argument, so much so that the other monks would walk if not run when they saw them coming.

 

Like hopeless gamblers, they would find the most ridiculous things to argue about: for example, whether the sun was shining through the clouds or the clouds through the sun; whether a dog, or perhaps a tree, has Buddha nature; even whether the Buddha had been a real person.

They argued over whether it was better to be silent in their practice or to read the sutras aloud. They argued over whether their teacher, Hui Neng, was actually enlightened or not, or whether any other monks in the temple had reached enlightenment. They argued over the koan, ‘What is the sound on one hand?’ and what that really means. They argued about whether the day was to be a good or bad one. They even argued over whether bugs had Buddha nature, asking what that meant for them if they did.

Throughout the morning, they had stood beneath the banner, gently blowing in the breeze, and all other monks had given them a wide berth, afraid of being drawn into the argument, as so often happened.

Master Hui Neng watched them yelling back and forth, each sure he was right. Finally, he could stand it no longer and went out to where they stood, looking up at the banner. ‘Master,’ they said, ‘please tell us the truth. Is it the banner that is moving or is it the wind?’

Hui Neng looked up at the banner once more and turned to the two irascible monks. ‘It is neither the wind nor the banner that is moving,’ he told them, ‘it is your mind.’

For once the two monks were speechless, though later that evening they were seen in the kitchen, arguing about how best to prepare tofu.”

-famous Chan Buddhist tale as told in The Spirit of Zen – Teaching Stories on the Way to Enlightenment by Solala Towler

“Like hopeless gamblers, they would find the most ridiculous things to argue about: for example, whether the sun was shining through the clouds or the clouds through the sun; whether a dog, or perhaps a tree, has Buddha nature; even whether the Buddha had been a real person.”

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

The Wind and the Banner

Dec 14, 2017 | Tao du Jour

”Two monks were standing under a pole from which hung a banner. The banner was waving in the breeze and the two monks were arguing over whether it was the breeze or the banner that was moving.

They had spent the whole morning arguing like this. These two monks loved nothing more than to have a good argument, so much so that the other monks would walk if not run when they saw them coming.

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

Like hopeless gamblers, they would find the most ridiculous things to argue about: for example, whether the sun was shining through the clouds or the clouds through the sun; whether a dog, or perhaps a tree, has Buddha nature; even whether the Buddha had been a real person.

They argued over whether it was better to be silent in their practice or to read the sutras aloud. They argued over whether their teacher, Hui Neng, was actually enlightened or not, or whether any other monks in the temple had reached enlightenment. They argued over the koan, ‘What is the sound on one hand?’ and what that really means. They argued about whether the day was to be a good or bad one. They even argued over whether bugs had Buddha nature, asking what that meant for them if they did.

Throughout the morning, they had stood beneath the banner, gently blowing in the breeze, and all other monks had given them a wide berth, afraid of being drawn into the argument, as so often happened.

Master Hui Neng watched them yelling back and forth, each sure he was right. Finally, he could stand it no longer and went out to where they stood, looking up at the banner. ‘Master,’ they said, ‘please tell us the truth. Is it the banner that is moving or is it the wind?’

(Photo courtesy of Pixabay)

“Like hopeless gamblers, they would find the most ridiculous things to argue about: for example, whether the sun was shining through the clouds or the clouds through the sun; whether a dog, or perhaps a tree, has Buddha nature; even whether the Buddha had been a real person.”

Hui Neng looked up at the banner once more and turned to the two irascible monks. ‘It is neither the wind nor the banner that is moving,’ he told them, ‘it is your mind.’

For once the two monks were speechless, though later that evening they were seen in the kitchen, arguing about how best to prepare tofu.”

-famous Chan Buddhist tale as told in The Spirit of Zen – Teaching Stories on the Way to Enlightenment by Solala Towler

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