Monday, April 26, 2010

Reflection on the Teachings of Man Gong

"To attain the result of your practice, you must extinguish the small “I”. You must stop checking and become like a rotten stump, then you can get rid of the “I” that thinks it exists.” The Teachings of Zen Master Man Gong

To become like a rotten stump means first of all to become like a tree that has been cut down. A tree that has been cut down is completely stripped of its trunk, branches and leaves. It can no longer take in energy from the sun. So this means to cut off whatever gives energy to your small self.

Sometimes you see a tree stump in the forest with new branches and leaves growing from it. This is because the roots are alive and continuing to draw nourishment from the soil. So if you want to attain your true self, you must become like a rotten stump, which means to let your roots die so that you stop feeding your small self.

Finally, a rotten stump nourishes the whole forest. Insects, reptiles and small mammals take refuge in it, and they feed each other and the birds and other animals. As the stump slowly decomposes it releases all the nutrients that were bound up in it and those leech through the earth enriching the soil, helping other plants to grow. This means that your practice is no longer for yourself but rather for all beings without discrimination.



cybin said...

I am confused about this small "i" that must be let go of.. What exactly is it? To me, it seems like I am that which chooses among desires, but also that I am like the container of all these desires too, that they are somehow a part of me. Is letting go of the small "i" the former, that is, letting go of the decider?
It appeals to me, this idea, only inasmuch as it is the same as accepting all of my parts, my desires - in non-judgement if you will. Yet, I am still confused.

Christina Hauck said...

Dear cybin,

Thank you for your question. Your small "i" includes all your desires as well as your aversions as well as your opinions about your desires and aversions and other people's ideas, desires and opinions. Zen practice means to put down all these desires and opinions so you can see clearly.

Yours in the dharma, Christina