The double-edged sword of perfect wisdom

THE PERFECT TEACHING IN THE PERFECT MASTER

A young monk came to Master Kyosei and said, “This disciple is pecking on the inside of the shell, ready to hatch. I beg you, sir, help me by knocking on the outside of the shell.” Kyosei said, “If I do, will you attain life?” The monk said, “If I don’t, that will be your shortcoming, and you will become the laughingstock of the world.” To this Kyosei replied, “Conceited fool!”

THE EGO-MIND MUST BE KILLED IN ORDER FOR ONE TO LIVE A NEW LIFE OF TRUE REALITY

This Zen story is both interesting and important. Every Zen Master has his own way of teaching. The teacher must know the student’s disposition, degree of progress, and when he is at the crucial point. A teacher may easily crush a student by wrong application of teaching or by wrong timing, and that person will never rise again. However, the ego self must be killed in order for one to live a new life of true reality. For this reason it is said that a Zen Master has a double-edged sword—one that both kills and gives life. This sword must be used very exactly, with precision, intelligence and prowess. These are the qualities that separate the perfect master from any other seeker or person.

The seeker in this story thinks he is ready for enlightenment and asks his teacher to give the last push. But Kyosei, like any other fully enlightened person would, knows exactly where this student stands. The very fact of self-conceit is a sign of unreadiness. Even if this monk were enlightened, he would attach to enlightenment and still not be free; he might even mislead others. Kyosei knows when to knock on the shell.

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