Google+ Followers

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

the beginning meditator and the boiler room

"Neither quiet nor noisy."

This line is taken from the Zen classic Song of Mind by Niu-t'ou Fa-jung (594-657) and commented upon by Master Sheng Yen. He tells the story of a monk who could not concentrate because of the noise in the meditation hall. Continually searching for the silence in which he could apply his full attention, the monk abandoned the meditation hall for a mountain forest. He left the forest because of  the chirping of an irritating bird, then a spring meadow because of a chorus of insects and finally a pond because of some singing frogs. In frustration, he stuffed his ears with cloth.

"Boom-boom, Boom-boom, Boom-boom, Boom-boom..."

"How could there be drumming? I am alone in these mountains." He realized he was listening to his own heart and realized he would never be able to meditate. Sound was simply too distracting.

Later, a master told him, "The problem is not with sounds, but with the mind that is influenced by those sounds." As soon as the monk heard these words, he immediately obtained enlightenment.

At a retreat Sheng Yen tells his listeners, "In and of themselves, phenomena are not disturbing. It is the mind that is moved by phenomena which calls them disturbances. If you agree with the monk that it is the sounds that are a problem, then let me know. We can always move you and your cushion to the boiler room."


"Mind appears, then Dharma appears; Dharma appears, then form appears; form appears, then suffering appears."

"Mind disappears, then Dharma disappears; Dharma disappears, then form disappears; form disappears, then suffering disappears." Zen Master Seung Sahn in The Compass of Zen, pg. 188



In late August, there will be a seven day huatuo retreat in 
Taiwan with  Guo Ru Fashi.  You can read about him at  


Also check  out:
Master Cheng Yen in Facebook; 
and the Western Chan Fellowship at

Call Adrian at 250 898 8201,
Please notify me if you wish to be removed from the email list.

No comments:

Post a Comment