Sunday, January 30, 2005

"Go wash your bowls" redux

I went to Hwagye-sa (Flower Stream Temple, or, according to an online translation program, Anger Poultry House) today to meditate and meet up with a co-worker of mine to listen to Hyon Gak sunim give a dharma talk. Hyon Gak wasn't there, which disappointed my co-worker (and yeah, I'll admit to being a bit disappointed, too), but the not-quite-so-entertaining monk in his place had the chance to offer a real, live version of the famous exchange between Joju* and the novice (see here for my old post on that topic).

After an hour-long disquisition on The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva, the monk opened the floor for questions, and got one from a fellow monk who was videotaping the lecture: "This sutra just complicates my thinking. It's all about bodhisattva practice... you're supposed to be doing bodhisattva practice, to help me cut through my thinking, so how can you help me and my complicated mind?"

The lecturer made a sour expression and said, "Just keep an eye on your camera." It was about the only laugh-out-loud moment** in the whole dharma talk. But the answer was a recognizably Zen one.

*Chn. Chao-chou, Jpn. Joshu.

**No, dammit, I don't go to dharma talks selfishly expecting to be entertained, but when a talk is dry, I calls 'em like I sees 'em.


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