2009-11-25 21:14:10 UTC
fetch his younger brother to join the order. Delighted, the Buddha
But the younger brother, although kind and gentle, turned out to be
and dull witted. He could understand nothing of his studies and asked
go home so that he wouldn't waste the Buddha's time or let down his
"There's no need for you to give up," said the Buddha. "You should
abandon your search for liberation just because you seem to yourself
be thick witted. You can drop all the philosophy you've been given
repeat a mantra instead - one that I will now give you."
He gave the young monk a mantra and sent him away affectionately.
But soon the monk was back, this time even more humiliated. "My
beloved Buddha, I can't remember the mantra you gave me and so I can
no longer practice."
The Buddha kindly repeated it for him. But twice more he came back,
having forgotten it each time. So the Buddha gave him a simplified
But when this too slipped completely out of his mind, he hardly dared
visit the Buddha again. "There's an even shorter version," the Buddha
told him, with a smile, "It's just one syllable. See if you can
that." But he could not.
In his hut, he broke down and wept. His brother found him and was
furious, feeling that his own reputation was now sullied. He told the
young monk to go home, and so the boy left the hut and sadly made his
way along the path. As he neared a grove of trees, he met the Buddha
coming from it.
The Buddha smiled and took his hand. Together they went to a temple
where two old monks were sweeping the floor. The Buddha said to
them: "This young monk will live here with you from now on.
Continue your sweeping, and as your brooms move back and forth,
listen and be aware of the sound of the broom as you sweep. "Don't
stop until I come back."
The young monk sat down and listened to the movement of the
brooms, to and fro over the floor. He heard the whispered rhythm of
the mantra as it was repeated over and over again. This went on for
many weeks, and before the Buddha came back, the young monk
had found full enlightenment and so had the two old monks (47).
"The Buddha Speaks"
Author of 'Zen: Direct Pointing to Reality.'
Shambhala Publications, 2000
Chapter on Clarity