Home » Excerpts » Is the Dharma Difficult or Easy to Realise

Easy or difficult depends on
whether one’s method is right or not,
whether one’s effort is enough or not.

– Stonepeace

Lingzhao (early ninth century C.E.) was the daughter of Layman Pang and helped to support the family financially by selling baskets. A part of the Pang family practice consisted of ongoing Dharma conversation and debate as evidenced by this exchange:

The Layman Pang was sitting in his thatched cottage one day. “Difficult, difficult, difficult,” he suddenly exclaimed, “[like trying] to scatter ten measures of sesame seed all over a tree!” “Easy, easy, easy,” returned Mrs. Pang, “just like touching your feet to the ground when you get out of bed.” “Neither difficult nor easy,” said Lingzhao, “On the hundred grass-tips, the Patriarchs’ meaning.”…

Her father starts by asserting that realizing one’s original nature is as difficult as putting sesame seeds back on the plant from which they’d come. Her mother answers that it is easy to find one’s way, it occurs as naturally as finding the ground beneath your feet when you awaken in your bed. Lingzhao corrects, integrates, and expands both statements, asserting that the way to realize the Buddhist path is not defined by either difficult or easy, but depends on the correct view. Lingzhao teaches her parents that since we are surrounded by true realization, our awakening is dependent on seeing wisdom on each tip of grass. It is neither difficult nor easy, we just need to maintain the effort to keep returning to practice, looking for the teaching fully manifest in every situation.

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