The Zen Mind-2

In the famous Zen monastery of Sogenji, the abbot, Gisan Zenrai Zenji, once asked his disciple for a bucket of water so he could take a bath. Gisan had led an austere life. He knew the importance of every drop of water, for he had grown up by saving rainwater and using it for survival on non-rainy days. The plants, trees and herbs in the monastery had been reared by Gisan like his own children in frugal conditions, surviving solely on careful harvesting of rainwater.

The new attendant brought a bucket of water which turned out too hot. Not wanting to be late for meditation by waiting for the water to cool down, Gisan asked for a bucket of cold water instead. From the well by the back gate of Sogenji his disciple brought more water. It took some more trips to get the water temperature right. Gisan told his attendant that no more water was needed.

Finishing the story in the words of Harada Roshi taken from Morning Dewdrops of the Mind, I quote:

Having been told this, the monk took the little bit of water left in the bottom of the bucket, threw it away nearby and placed the bucket upside down. Seeing him do this, Gisan Zenrai Zenji yelled, “You idiot! You just threw away that little bit of water on the ground and turned over that bucket!”

Gisan continued: “At the moment you did that you were only thinking of that as just a little bit of water and were therefore carelessly throwing it away, weren’t you? Why didn’t you go just one step further, especially knowing that this is the time of the year when there’s never enough rain? Why didn’t you put it on the garden’s trees or flowers? If you had put it on the tree it would have become the very life of that tree! If you had put it on the flowers it would have become the very life of the flowers and lived on. Why do you begrudge such a small effort as that?”

With these scathing words he severely reprimanded his disciple. Continuing, he said, “In even one drop of water, no matter how tiny a drop, the water’s great value doesn’t change at all! If you can’t understand this value of one single drop of water, no matter how hard you train you’ll never become someone who can give life to that training.”

Gisan had always lived on the few drops of water provided by the rain. The disciple changed his name to Tekisui meaning one drop of water.

Om Namah Shivay

***Write ” Om Namah Shivay ” if you ask for God’s blessing on your life today. Please Like, Tag and Share to bless others!


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