Fingers and Moons
This book is a transcript of talks given at the Summer School of the Buddhist Society in the years 1982 to 1985 which form a collection of Zen stories and incidents pointing directly to the truth in ourselves. There is an old saying in the Zen school: ’When you pick them up the very stones are gold’… In our everyday life, to recognise the true worth of every little thing, every tiny fragment of what we are using every day, to respect it – that gives life real meaning…
The Stone Sermon In the Lotus Sutra (one of the old ones), there is the story about a sort of Buddhist prodigal son. He is not actually prodigal, but he wanders away from the King’s palace when he is small and forgets. And then he wanders back again when he is much older – as a beggar. The King recognizes him from within the palace and sends out a guard to bring him in. But the beggar runs away when he sees the guard. So the King has to take him on in the humblest capacity and in the farthest corner of the kingdom, gradually promoting him up until, finally, he declares: ‘You are my son! You are the heir, and everything here is yours.’ The son has always been the heir to great power and wealth, but because he is a beggar, because he has forgotten his inheritance and who he is, he is afraid when invited to come into the palace. Now, he has nothing. He sees the guard and knows what guards do to beggars – if they simply move them on they are lucky – so naturally he runs away. If he had something, some little money, something to show, some sort of status, he might be able to go with the guard into the palace without fear where he would be recognized. These little pieces which I am offering are only words. There is nothing real here. So in a way they are sort of imitation money; they are imitation pearls cast before someone – perhaps only one person – who thinks that he or she is a beggar. And it might give that person the courage and the faith to make the jump and go directly to the palace.