• Buddhist blog

  • Categories

  • Buddhist Books

    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.

Misunderstanding, by Trevor Leggett

Yoga Narasimha, Vishnu's Man-Lion Incarnation, India (Tamil Nadu), Chola period (880–1279). © Metropolitan Museum of ArtA teenage disciple asked the advice of a senior in the Yoga group he had joined. ‘My parents don’t understand me at all – we are always having rows. Why shouldn’t I have pictures of nudes on the walls of my room, like my friends do? I wanted to put one up in the hall too, but they raised hell over that. Why should I have to listen to them? I think I’m a natural rebel, and I won’t just meekly conform.’

The senior said: ‘Do you really get that much pleasure from these pictures?’

The teenager considered. Then he said: ‘Well, as a matter of fact, no. I think that clothes are like the sauce with a meal; they increase the pleasure. I don’t care much for bare meat. But all my friends have them up, so I do too.’

‘But isn’t that just meekly conforming?’ asked the senior. ‘Shouldn’t the natural rebel refuse to do that?’

There was a pause, then the teenager said: ‘Yes, maybe you’re right there. Perhaps I’ll put up pictures that I really like. But it’s not only the pictures; it seems to be everything. My parents just don’t understand me at all. I have to stand up for what I believe is right, against their out-dated ideas. No understanding, that’s the whole trouble.’

‘There’s certainly some of it about’, rejoined the senior. ‘But has it ever occurred to you that perhaps you don’t understand your parents. You have asked my advice, and here it is: every evening, after you finish your evening meditation, sit quietly for a little bit, and try to understand your parents. Come and see me again after a fortnight.’

The disciple turned up in due course and said: ‘I have come to realize that they are bound to think as they do, because of the way they were brought up. I have misunderstood them, and I don’t feel resentment now. In fact I am trying not to provoke them. The home atmosphere is much better now. Thank you for your help.’

‘Oh, it’s not finished yet,’ replied the senior. ‘Now do the same practise, but this time think about, and try to understand, yourself.’

After some time, the pupil asked again for an interview, and spoke without his usual self-confidence. ‘I’ve come to see that all those defiant and shocking things I was doing in the name of freedom were really things I didn’t care about at all. It was just devilment, and I now feel ashamed when I look back on them.’

The senior gently patted the table that was between them. ‘This can hurt us if we kick or fall against it, but its true nature is to be helpful. Don’t feel ashamed; it is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up.’

With thanks to Trevor Leggett.
© 1999 Trevor Leggett

Read more articles by Trevor Leggett here.

3 Responses

  1. It is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up.

  2. True nature is to be helpful. Amazing!

  3. I am seventy-eight, and we are still expected to grow up. It be that way, it seems.

Add your comment.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: