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    Zen Teaching of Instantaneous Awakening

    A Classic Zen text written in the 8th century by Hui Hai. He was a student of Ma-tsu and from the same line as Hui Neng, Huang Po and Rinzai (Lin-chi).

  • Don't Take Your Life Personally

    Ajahn Sumedho urges us to trust in awareness and find out for ourselves what it is to experience genuine liberation from mental anguish and suffering.

  • Perfect Wisdom: Prajnaparamita Texts

    The Short Prajnaparamita Texts were composed in India between 100 BC and AD 600. They contain some of the most well known Buddhist texts such as The Perfection of Wisdom in 700 Lines, The Heart Sutra, and The Diamond Sutra.

  • Fingers and Moons, by Trevor Leggett

    Trevor Leggett points to the truth beyond words, beyond explanations and methods.

  • Experience Beyond Thinking: Practical Guide to Buddhist Meditation. An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation and the reflections of an ordinary practitioner. Used as a guide by meditation groups.

    An easy to follow guide to Buddhist meditation.

  • Understanding Karma and Rebirth A Buddhist Perspective

    Meditations and exercises to help us understand karma and rebirth and to live from the unborn moment.

  • The Old Zen Master by Trevor Leggett

    Stories, parables, and examples pointing to the spiritual implications of practical events in daily life.

  • Teachings of a Buddhist Monk

    Modern practical teachings from an American monk living within one of the oldest Buddhist traditions.

Many Spikes, by Trevor Leggett

An Indian Yogi Tied to a Palm Tree. Willem Schellinks.Sometimes people complain that there are many things that go wrong for them. There are innumerable little worries about personal relationships, and not being able to afford this or that, or the noise of the traffic and so on and so on. They feel, “If only I were a millionaire, everything would be all right. Of course some people would dislike me but they would keep their mouths shut. And all these other little troubles would disappear if only I was very rich.

There is an interesting parallel to this: the case of the yogi on his bed of nails. When you see him, it does look terrifying; dozens and dozens of these sharp spikes on the board and he is lying on them (he has a little strip of wood under his head). We are impressed by his stoical endurance and give a coin to his attendant at which the yogi lifts a hand in a routine blessing. Two hours later, after we have been round the fair we pass the same place again. He is still there, calmly braving what one imagines must be dozens of small wounds in his back.

But when one thinks a little bit one realises that the more terrifying the apparatus looks, the effect it will have on a hardened skin. The more spikes there are, the more the weight of his thin body is distributed among them. And indeed, when we look carefully, we can see that there is no blood.

One comes to see that the real agony would be to lie not on dozens of spikes, but on just one big spike! He is well off as he is.

In the same way the very rich man is indeed freed from many of the little discomforts of the not so well-off. It is true that people smile at him and flatter him and fuss around him. He can imagine that they are devoted to him and are praying for him. But one day he will realise that they are indeed praying for him – to die.

They all want to inherit his money. That is the one big spike.

With thanks to Trevor Leggett.
© 2000 Trevor Leggett

Read more articles by Trevor Leggett here.

One Response

  1. Excellent! I will no longer complain about lifes little niggles!

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