When Zen master Da-Zhi was a young meditating practitioner, living in Zi-Lian, he once paid a visit to Zen master Da-Fun who had a bamboo forest, and who enjoyed watching this forest very much. While he was watching the bamboo forest, Zen master Da-Zhi came to ask some doctrines. He kneel down and asked:
– Dear Sir, what is the bamboo forest of Da-Fun?
The question seems not to involve with doctrines at all, but it implies the meaning that what is the doctrines of master Da-Fun? How master Da-Fun got awakened? What is His guideline? However, master Da-Zhi only gave a implied asking.
Zen master Da-Fun said:
– One tree, two trees turn aside.
Master Da-Zhi asked again:
– Dear Sir, I can’t get you. Please talk about it clearer
Zen master Da-Fun said more:
– Three trees, four trees bend.
As soon as master Da-fun finished, master Da-Zhi got awakened. Thus, master Da-Zhi’s ability was very high. Nowadys, our practitioners can’t get awakened easily with that secret sentences.
The same with that, we have another story of Zen master Zhao-Zhu. One day, when master Zhao-Zhu was sitting in the front yard of his pagoda, a monk came to ask:
– Dear Sir, what is the general idea of Buddha-Dharma?
This monk put a direct question, not implied. Master Zhao-Zhu said:
– Cypress tree in the front yard.
There were many cypress trees planted in the front yard.
The monk argued:
– Dear Sir, please don’t take a scene to cheat people. Please don’t take outside to cheat inside my mind. Please don’t get myself away from my mind.
Master Zhao-Zhu then answered:
– I don’t take a scene to cheat people.
Then the monk asked again:
– Dear Sir, what is the general idea of Buddha-Dharma?
Master Zhao-Zhu said:
– The cypress in the front yard.
The monk got awakened at once.
All those masters who could get enlightened at once like that had the great abilities. With a quick and short sentence, practitioners can be awakened, their minds can be concentrated, then their abilities are great and the methods are very high. Whereas, in case of low ability, practitioners need to practice a low method and follow the teaching in every single detail.
In this world, only one Person, Who had the greatest ability to get His mind concentrated any time without any teaching, is our Buddha.
When the Buddha was twelve years old, His father, king Suddhodana, organized a Farm-work initiation ceremony, which was observed every year in honor of the God of Agriculture. The King was the first one who should plough the field, then all mandarins had to plough the first furrow right after. The economy in the old time was depended on agriculture. A country could be strong and rich up to its having good harvest. Therefore, the day of the ceremony was very important. After the ceremony, the people joyfully took a party, while the twelve-year-old Prince Crown came to the banian tree to meditate. He concentrated His mind deep into the first stage of meditation without any instruction. He sat in the West to be shadowed because the sun shone the East in the morning. When He meditated till afternoon, then the sun shone the West, but the whole tree naturally turned to the West to shadow Him. Once the King didn’t see the Prince Crown, he immediately went around looking for his son. When the King and the mandarins came to the place where the Prince Crown was meditating, they all witnessed the miracle that the tree in the middle of the field could shadow the Pince Crown while He was in deep concentration. In front of the miraculous scene the King could do nothing, but knelt down to prostrate himeself at his son.
Later, when He left home to become a monk, He came to practice with the two best masters Alarama Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta. The two masters did get awakened in the high level, they might get the highest level in India at that time, and they both had supernatural power. He came to learn doctrines from them because He was humble. He thought if people want to get Enlightenment, they need to have masters. In fact, He only practiced two days then got awakened at the same level of that of His masters did. They both were surprised and admitted that He was the only person who practicing only two day could be awakened as high as they had practiced for their whole lives. He was asked to stay in the monastery to help instruct the master’s disciples. It was the first time He refused the offer, because He asked His first master about an issue of ego, and He got no satisfied answer. Then He left. The second offer was made by His second master who really wanted to leave the monastery for Him, because the master knew that there was no one who could compare with Him. He also asked His master about the issue of ego, and still got nothing, and He left.
The Buddha chose the extemerely autere way to practice for six years and got no good result. Until He found out that the autere practice was not the way to Nirvana, He tried to get food and drink again. After He could get healthy, He came to the Bodhi-tree and vow to get Enlightenment. This time, He took back the practice of meditation-concentration. Just like before, He had no need any instruction. He came deep into concentration for 49 days, got the Three-Fold Knowledge and the Six Supernatural Power, and became the Buddha. We can say again that there has been no one in the world having the exceedingly great ability like our Buddha did.
The Buddha had another great point that there have been no Zen masters who could do. When they got awakened by any method, then later, they will teach their disciples to practice exactly the method they did. They suppose that the method is the best, no way can compare with their way. It’s common psychology of people. However, our Buddha was very different and very special and extremely great. He became the Buddha by taking the practice of meditation-concentration, and by His exceeding wisdom, but when He taught humans, He taught very detail with many methods, from low to high, from the basic to the top of wisdom. He never grasped any method. He taught human beings to practice the most basic method. The Buddha was most sefl-assured with The Four-Fold Stage of Mindfulness. He supposed the Four-Fold Stage of Mindfulness is the lowest and most basic method that could save all human beings.