Fa Yan, one of the masters of the Linji sect of the Zen school of the Song dynasty told his pupils a story that went:
As a monk, I entered the town yesterday and heard the sound of cymbals and drums, took a closer look. All I could see was a black cloth round a stage. On the stage were a number of wooden dolls.
Some were handsome and others ugly. Some were well dressed and others dressed in rags. These dolls could move, speak, sing, laugh and cry.
As I was watching with interest, I suddenly saw the black cloth flutter. Getting closer I saw that there was a man behind it whose hands were pulling the puppets’ strings and from whose mouth came an imitation of all sorts of different voices.
As I looked I thought, this is really interesting and couldn’t help laughing. I asked him: “What is your name, Sir?” He replied: “Master Monk, never mind the name! How about just watching?” I was speechless. (Record of the Sayings of Renowned Monks)
“Never mind the name (xing homophone of xing ‘nature’)” means that the original mind and true nature must be realized through experience and cannot be expressed in words.
The puppeteer behind the black cloth signifies that we are not our own masters and that we are manipulated by others.
As we busy ourselves about these things, we still believe that we are in control of ourselves. The truth is that we are controlled by, and have become sacrifices to, fame and profit.
( 摘自: 吴言生著《CHINESE ZEN A PATH TO PEACE AND HAPPINESS》，
TONY BLISHEN 译，Better Link 出版社，纽约 )