A Zen Master’s 3 Lessons

If you think you are either superior or inferior to someone,
an invisible wall goes up between you.
Treat him like an old friend you haven’t seen in a while.
When you let your guard down, so will he.

– Haemin Sunim

I heard a story from Korea… It is about a man named Maeng Sa-seong (1360-1438), a member of the literati class during the Joseon Dynasty. He was renowned for his intelligence: At age nineteen he received the highest marks in the civil service examination, and at age twenty he became county magistrate. But his quick success made him haughty and vain.

One day Maeng paid a visit to an eminent Zen Buddhist master in his district and asked, ‘What should I keep in mind as I rule this village?’ The master answered politely. ‘All that is necessary is to avoid evil and to do good for many.’ Maeng snapped, ‘Even a child knows that! Is that all you have to tell me?’

As Maeng got up to leave, the master insisted he stay a bit longer. After brewing some tea, the master poured in Maeng’s cup but did not stop when the cup was full. Perplexed, Maeng demanded to know what he was doing. ‘You seem to know that too much tea will ruin the floor,’ the master answered, ‘but how do you not know that too much knowledge will ruin one’s character?’

Embarrassed, Maeng sprang to his feet and rushed toward the door to leave, but in his haste he hit his head on the door frame. The master gently admonished him: ‘If you lower your head, you won’t bump into trouble.‘ As we can see, too much pride can be a source of conflict. If we treat people with humility and respect, conflicts can be avoided…

According to the Buddhist text, The Treatise on the King of Treasures Samadhi, ‘Do not expect others to follow your way. When things always go your way. it is easy to become arrogant.‘ As we experience adversity in our loves. we mature and become more understanding. Just remember that the person who has made your life difficult today could be an undercover teacher sent from above, tasked with your spiritual growth.

The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down:
How To Be Calm In A Busy World
Haemin Sunim

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Alert: Content is protected !!