why the buddha smiles

Stumbled onto this poem recently and thought it summed up the essence of Buddhist philosophy perfectly……

Why The Buddha Smiles
Gilbert Koh

Shen Hsiu the senior monk rises from meditation
And writes this on the monastery wall:

    The body is the tree of enlightenment
    The mind is the bright mirror that stands before it
    Take care to wipe it constantly
    Let not the dust settle

Hui Neng the kitchen boy rises from his sleep
reads the wall and in reply he writes:

    There never was a tree of enlightenment
    Nor any bright mirror standing
    Since all is empty
    Where is dust to settle?

from here

This poem is actually based on a (possibly apocryphal?) story. Read a short version here, and a long version here (written from Huineng’s perspective).

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