Do Not Grasp Either Extreme

Posted: November 20, 2011 in Short Stories
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There was once a very wealthy man who was so miserly that he couldn’t bear to spend even a single cent of his vast wealth. One day the Zen master Mokusen paid him a visit.

“If I held my hand in a fist like this forever, what would you call it?” he asked the man, holding his hand up.

“Deformed,” the man answered.

“If I opened it up like this and keep it this way forever, what would you call it?”

“The same, deformed.”

“As long as you understand this, you’ll be a happy, rich man,” the master said and left.

From that day forward, the wealthy man became a generous man. He was still frugal, but he also understood how to spend money and contribute to charities.

Commentary

All opposites (good and evil, having and lacking, benefit and harm, self and others) are due to the differentiating mind. As soon as we give rise to such views, we turn away from our original mind and succumb to this dualism. Zen, however, stands in the middle, not on either side.

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