Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Bashing Heads for Emptiness

Some of the Tibetan stories of famous gurus are quite Zen-like. Here is one quoted by Gen Lamrimpa in his book, Transcending Time:

Is the ordinary appearance of the guru simply the guru's actual appearance or is it something created by one's own mind? The ordinary appearance is created by one's own defiled mind, which is blemished by mental afflictions. The story of Naropa illustrates this point.

With great difficulty Guru Naropa sought out his teacher, Guru Tilopa. While on this quest, he met a man with a backpack. Naropa asked him, "Have you seen the master Tilopa?"

The man said, "No, I have not seen Tilopa, but if you go over there by that mountain, you will find a person beating on his parents' heads." The person carrying the backpack was an emanation of Tilopa.

Naropa went to the mountain and saw a person bashing two heads. Naropa asked the person beating the heads, "Have you seen Tilopa?"

The person said, "Yes, I have. I will show him to you, but before I do that, my parents have not treated me well, so you need to bash their heads, too."

Naropa answered, "First, I am a prince; second, I am a fully ordained monk; and third I am a pandit; and for these reasons I find it wrong to bash people's heads." Naropa reflected further and said, "I have been seeking out this teacher Tilopa in order to practice Dharma, and bashing people's heads is not Dharma, so I think I will be on my way."

As soon as Naropa thought that, the person beating the heads and the people being beaten vanished. A voice from the sky said, "For the cultivation of great compassion it is necessary to realize emptiness. You must beat the head of self-grasping with the hammer of identitylessness."

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