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23
Aug

How Vain It Is

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

– Henry David Thoreau


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20
Aug

Letting Go

Art by Tomas Karkalas

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.

The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials.

– Lin Yutang

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17
Aug

The Inexpressible Truth

Photo by Jimilee Kalu

The master had a disciple who diligently took notes on what he said.

At night, he would study these notes, organize them and discuss the teachings with other disciples. He would often argue and debate on the meaning of ambiguous statements. He would ask the master to clarify certain thoughts, which the master sometimes did, but he often mentioned something else that would make the disciple more confused. But the disciple was persistent and would not stop until he was satisfied with an answer. Then he would write his own notes to synthesize what he had learned. He would then go to the other people and begin teaching them based on his writings.

This went on for a few years and the disciples notes had spanned several booklets. One morning, the disciple woke up and found his notes gone. He searched and searched but could not find his beloved notes. The master saw him in this agitated state and asked, “What’s the matter?”

The disciple replied, “My notes! Someone took my notes. All your precious teachings were there. I recorded them and preserved them so I would not forget them. And now they’re gone.”

“Oh,” said the master, “I took them.”

“What? What did you do with them?” said the disciple.

“It was cold last night and we had run out of wood. I needed fuel for the fire,” said the master.

“But…but…” sputtered the disciple.

“You think you have lost your life’s work and meaning. But no. In truth, I threw away your notes because they were consuming you. You think they help you understand, but in truth, they were hindering you from moving forward. When you listen to my words, don’t seize on them and make teachings out of them. My words merely hint at a truth that is inexpressible. Seek out that truth,” said the master.


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14
Aug

So what if I am holy?

Photo by moyer photos

“Have you attained holiness?” asked the newcomer to the master.

“Why do you ask?” replied the master.

“I have to know if I should follow you or not,” said the newcomer.

“So what if I am holy? So what if I am not? A sinner can very well tell the truth, while a saint can also lead you to error. Listen to the message. Don’t be a slave to the messenger. The day you begin following me or anyone else, you cease to follow Truth,” said the master.


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10
Aug

Seeing Reality

Original photo by Adam Selwood

“People rarely see reality,” said the master. “What they often see as reality is only the reality in their minds. Even though they claim to be objective, they are in fact very subjective.”

“Explain further,” said the disciples, who had formed a small circle around the master.

The master gathered 4 twigs and formed a letter “M” on the ground. “Tell me what you see,” said the master.

One said, “I see an ‘M’.”

Another said, “I see 2 mountains.”

A disciple positioned sideways said, “I see ’3′.”

Another in front of the master said, “I see a ‘W’.”

And still another said, “I see the letter ‘E’.”

The master raised his hand and said, “See? You all saw reality according to how your mind perceived it. You interpreted it according to the symbols and preconceptions you have. In reality, there are only 4 twigs on the ground, nothing more.”

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