Zen Enlightenment Stories -
Enlightenment of Shen Tsan's Teacher
Zen Master, Shen Tsan, gained his enlightenment through
Pai Chang. He then returned to the monastery in which he
had been ordained by his ’first teacher’, the monk who
had brought him up from childhood and who, at that time,
was a very old man....
Remember: he was just a teacher, not a Master. So Shen
Tsan had not achieved his enlightenment through him. He
had to go to some other Master, to Pai Chang. When he
attained enlightenment he came back to his old teacher.
He was a compassionate man, a kind man. He had brought
up Shen Tsan from his very childhood. He was almost like
a father. One day Shen Tsan was helping his old teacher
to bathe. While washing the old man’s back, he said to
him, ”This is such a fine temple, but the Buddha in it
is not at all holy!”
His old teacher then turned round and looked at him,
whereupon Shen Tsan commented, ”Though the Buddha is not
holy, He can still Radiate the Light”
The old man felt a little embarrassed, but he didn’t say
anything. This was absolutely new: ”This young man has
got something new now since he has come back. His
quality has changed. And sometimes he utters statements
which can mean much, which may not mean anything. He may
have just learned them somewhere. Or, who knows whether
he has had some insight, some satori?” The old man
watched and waited.
Again, one day, while the old man was reading a sutra
near a paper-covered window, a bee tried desperately,
with all its strength, to fly out of the room through
the paper but was unable to get through.
Shen Tsan, seeing this. said, ”The world is so vast and
wide that you may easily set yourself free in it. Why,
then, do you foolishly bore into the old, rotten paper?”
Now, this is very meaningful. It has two meanings. The
old man is reading his old book, and the bee is trying
to get out by the paper-covered window – in Japan they
make paper curtains. And Shen Tsan says, ”The world is
so vast and wide that you may easily set yourself free
in it. Why, then, do you foolishly bore into the old,
And he sang a Gatha:
”While the empty door is open wide
How foolish is to try to get out
By thrusting against the window!
Alas! How can you
Raise your head above the slough
By putting your nose against the old, rotten paper For a
And the old man is getting to be near about a hundred
years old. Now this is too much. Hearing this remark,
the old man laid down his book and said to Shen Tsan,
”For quite a few times now, you have made unusual
remarks. From whom did you gain your knowledge while you
were away from home?”
Shen Tsan replied, ”I have reached the state of peaceful
rest through the grace of Master Pai Chang. Now I have
come back home to pay my debt of gratitude to you.”
The old teacher then prepared a great festival in his
young disciple’s honour, summoned the monks in the
monastery to the assembly hall, and besought Shen Tsan
to preach the Dharma to all. Whereupon Shen Tsan
ascended to the high seat, and, following the tradition
of Pai Chang, preached as follows:
”Singularly radiating is the wondrous
Light Free from the bondage of matter and the senses.
Not binding by words and letters
The Essence is nakedly exposed in its pure eternity.
Never defiled is the Mind-nature;
It exists in perfection from the very beginning.
By merely casting away your delusions
The Suchness of Buddhahood is realized.”
Listening to these words, seeing his own disciple
illumined, feeling for the first time who he had become,
the old man touched the feet of his own disciple. And
when he was bowing down and touching the feet of his own
disciple, he became enlightened, the insight opened.
Yes, the door is always open.
Osho book "Zen: The Path of Paradox, Volume 3"
Enlightenment Stories of Osho :
Osho on Tokusan
Osho on Sudhana
Zen Master Hui-Hai
Zen Master Kyogen
Zen disciple Zengen Awakening
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