Fixed ideas are like a wisp of cloud or smoke, but nonetheless people find themselves blocked or captured by these. You would laugh if you saw someone tripped by a cloud, or if someone claimed that they were imprisoned by the air. But, in fact, people are endlessly being trapped by things no more substantial than air or clouds. They make a wall with their mind, and then it imprisons them. Inherently, there is no wall or anything to trip over. These things are mirages they’ve created from the thoughts they gave rise to.
Do not insist upon your own fixed ideas. Your persistence is your own narrow mind. If your mind is broad, it can easily embrace the entire world. However, if your mind is narrow, even a needle cannot enter. You have to keep letting go of your stubbornness, and always be deeply respectful of all life and things. This is returning to and relying upon the Buddha-Dharma. This is also how to become a free person. Always be humble. Be humble. The fragrance of your broad and generous mind will warm others’ hearts.
Zen Master Daehaeng
Question: Can one be attached to Buddhism? What should we do if someone attacks our beliefs and criticizes the Dharma?
Answer: Each situation must be regarded individually. In general, if we feel, “They are criticizing my beliefs. They think I am stupid for believing that,” we are clinging to our beliefs because we think, “These beliefs are good because they are mine. If someone criticizes them, they are criticizing me.” Such an attitude isn’t very productive and we’ll be more peaceful if we abandon it. We are not our beliefs. If others disagree with our beliefs, it does not mean we are stupid.
Being open to what others say is useful. Let’s not be attached to the name and label of our religion. We are seeking truth and happiness, not promotion of a religion because it happens to be ours. In addition, questioning the teachings is reasonable. The Buddha himself said we should check his teachings and not just believe in them blindly.
On the other hand, we should not automatically agree with everything someone else says. We should not abandon our beliefs and adopt theirs indiscriminately. If someone asks a question we cannot answer, it doesn’t mean the Buddha’s teachings are wrong. It simply means we don’t know the answer and need to learn and contemplate more. We can then take the question to knowledgeable Buddhists and think about their answers. When others question our beliefs, they are actually helping us deepen our understanding of the Buddha’s teachings by showing us what we do not yet understand. This inspires us to study the Dharma and reflect on its meaning.
Photo by Elbert Foo.
The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.
The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.