An elderly monk at the end of his life, wished to pass his robe and alms bowl to one of his three disciples, all of whom had considerable powers of understanding. This caused the old monk great difficulty in choosing between them.
One bright moonlit night the monk felt that he was about to leave the world and that the time had come to choose a successor.
He called the three disciples to him and gave each a copper cash and sent them to buy
something that was both cheap and would fill a room in the monastery.
The first and second disciples took the money and left. The third and youngest disciple remained solemnly meditating in the lotus position.
After a while, the eldest disciple returned and told the master that he had used the money to buy several cartloads of straw that would fill a room in the monastery.
The old monk listened and shook his head.
The second disciple returned, took a candle from his sleeve and lit it.
The old monk displayed an expression of satisfaction and at the same time turned his gaze towards the youngest monk at his side who rose slowly to his feet and returned the money he had been given, crossed his arms in obeisance and said:
“Master, what I bought is about to arrive!”
As he spoke, he puffed out the candle and the room was plunged into darkness.
The disciple pointed through the door and said: “Look, Master, what your disciple bought has arrived!”
They all looked out and saw the full moon hanging hugely in the sky.
The moonlight flooded into the room, filling it with a crystal radiance.
The old monk was speechless with amazement and wept tears of joy. He took off his kasaya and gently draped it over his disciple’s shoulders.
So it is that moving from “employing the material to metamorphose self ” to “employing self to metamorphose the material” is so simple.
( 摘自: 吴言生著《CHINESE ZEN A PATH TO PEACE AND HAPPINESS》，
TONY BLISHEN 译，Better Link 出版社，纽约 )