The Scripture of the Fo...

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The Scripture of the Founding Master

Chapter Twelve: Exemplary Acts

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The Founding Master visited Silsang Monastery one day and witnessed two elderly monks harshly scolding a young novice who, they said, would not obey their instruction to practice meditation. They said to the Master, “A person like him could not be delivered even if a thousand buddhas appeared right now. He’s trash.” The Founding Master smiled and said, “Though you reverend monks have shown concern for him, you are also preventing him from ever practicing meditation.” One of the senior monks asked, “Why do you say that?” The Founding Master said, “By demanding that a person do something he doesn’t want to do, you are making him dislike it forever. If I told you that inside the rocks of that mountain there is gold and I demanded that you crack open those rocks and extract the gold, would you trust my words and immediately start mining?” The elderly monks thought for a while, and said, “It would be hard to believe you and immediately start mining.” The Founding Master said, “In the same way, if I demand that you go mining without first gaining your trust, what would you do? You would most likely think my words spurious. When a young disciple has no interest in meditation or any such aspiration, if you demand that he practice meditation, it would make him presume meditation was spurious, and once he thinks so, wouldn’t that keep him from ever practicing it? Thus, your approach is not a skillful means of guiding a person.” One of the senior monks said, “If this is the case, then what would be a skillful means of guiding him?” The Founding Master said, “Knowing that there is gold inside the rock, if you first go and mine it yourself and then make splendid use of it, people will want to know how you became wealthy. If you tell them the details to suit the degrees of their desire to know, how gratefully they would then go and mine the gold! Wouldn’t this be a skillful means of guiding others?” The senior monks sat up straight and said, “The Master’s method of guidance is truly magnificent!”