Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no realization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”
Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.
“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”
The story above reminds me of the times I believed that it would be easy to empty my mind and the attachment I have to my emotions and thoughts. The harder I tried to do it, the more I was shown my ego and the thoughts that were still controlling me.
When I realised it was my acceptance of “what is” in every part of my life, whether that be my stress, my anger, my pain or impatience with life, it was then I could understand what it meant to empty my mind.
In trying to control our lives or believe we know what the future holds, we keep our minds full and busy. We need to let go of fixed plans and concepts, and let the world unfold itself.
Visualising what I would like to happen in my life is all I really need to create in my mind, how it comes about or when it arrives, is not what I need to concern myself with. In letting go of the attachment to these thoughts, I began to empty my mind and feel lighter.
If we truly want to change our life, we must first change our mind. We must free it from the restrictive thinking that holds us back. If we realise that all things change, there is nothing we will try to hold on to. If we are not afraid of dying, there is nothing we cannot achieve.
Practising stillness and becoming aware of my thoughts and beliefs, has really helped me to empty the busyness of my mind. Each time I practice, I allow my mind to open and let go, and in doing so, I receive the wisdom and clarity I need to make the right decisions.
Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.
Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.
If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.” – Lao Tzu