The Sound of a Bamboo Clapper
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I received a call from a fellow monk who just completed a three-month retreat and is off for some rambling meditation. His pleasant voice said he will stop by and visit me on his way. At that instant, I nostalgically thought of a pair of white rubber shoes neatly placed on a step-stone before the door and longed for the sound of the bamboo clapper announcing the start of meditation.
I thought of the quietude of my mind whenever I turned back to see if my shoes were neatly placed on the stone when I was a novice. I also remembered the state of my mind whenever I saw the verse on the pillar of the Dharma Hall--"Watch your step." I was very happy with my peace of my mind when I was trying my best to be tidy and spotless as the pair of white rubber shoes neatly placed on the step-stone before the door.
I still remember clearly the sound of the bamboo clapper announcing the start of meditation. Clap! Clap! Clap! The sound of the clapper was so sharp and clear that it seemed to cleanse all the world’s defilements. It was actually a signal to take up a hwadu for meditation with a clear mind without falling into torpor or slumber. The best part of the sound was that it did not leave any residue or a lingering sound like a gong or a bell, as if to teach us to be likewise. It seemed to teach us to be persons of few wants or attachments.
When I was thus peaceful, the world was simply beautiful and I could embrace everything with gratitude. I could disregard any praise or criticism. Even every tiny thing and the matters of no great importance thrilled me happy with some meaningful messages. But where are they now? Such beatitude! Alas! My slothful and distracted mind must have lost them.
The reaction of the mind to sense-objects varies according to the mind of the perceiver. Anger and smiles are also manifestations of the mind, and can distract the unenlightened mind. The enlightened mind never falters. I wonder what such a mind will be like, and attainment of it is my ultimate object. How wonderful it would be to have such a mind of supreme serenity. That was my reason to become a monk, and the reason that I have been striving so hard.
The mind is inseparable from our daily life. If I hate someone, it is because I harbor hatred in my mind. So it is with anger. Hatred and anger in my mind arise from the delusion of attachment to the mind-object.
"If one sees common people with the eyes of wisdom, they are no longer common people. If one hears without an obsessive mind, one can listen to what people say without discrimination, no matter what they say." This teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra gives us a peace of mind. The peaceful mentality free of discrimination and attachment looms up beautifully in my mind. It is everyone’s wish to attain such a blissful mind, but not all people succeed. It requires constant and strenuous effort to attain such a mind of equanimity free from discrimination and attachment. This is the most vital task in our daily life, but I sometimes fail in this task. It seems that I am not completely free of the world of forms. My hope of having a peaceful mind is in vain as long as I still have attachment to forms.
One will never attain supreme wisdom so long as one is attached to forms. If one really wishes to have a peaceful mentality, one must look into one’s mind. With a peaceful mind not suffering from attachment to forms and discrimination, the whole world will look beautiful and lovable. I am waiting for my fellow monk with "love," taking a walk on the mountain trails.