One day, the leader of a large group of bandits was thinking about a famous Buddhist monk and he couldn’t understand why the monk was so popular. “Why on earth is everyone calling him a saint? He doesn’t look like anything special to me. I think I’ll go and test him. If he really has such great Dharma power, then he should have no problem stopping my sword. But if I can cut him in half, then he was a fraud and is no great loss.” So the bandit leader began watching a narrow street that the monk often passed through.
A few days later, he saw the monk at last. As the monk walked toward the bandit, he seemed to have no idea about what was going to happen. “Hah!” thought the bandit, “He’s about to die and doesn’t even know it. If he really had great Dharma power, he’d know what would happen if he came down this street.” The bandit shouted at the monk, “Some enlightened monk you are! I’m going to cut you in half, and let’s see what you can do then!”
To his surprise, the monk began laughing. “If you cut a tree in half, will you find flowers inside the wood?” The bandit was completely taken aback by this question and just stood there with his mouth open. The monk again asked, “If you cut a tree down, will it produce any flowers? You’ve spent years looking outside yourself, always looking for the next big score, trying to take what belongs to other people, but the flowers you want to find bloom only when Spring comes. Cause Spring to arise within your own mind and what you are looking for will naturally appear.”
The bandit leader felt as if he had been run through with a red hot spear. All of the rationalizations and lies that he had kept telling himself collapsed, and he felt as if he was seeing the world for the first time. He laid his sword at the monk’s feet and begged the monk to become his teacher. For at that moment Spring had arisen within his mind. And the fragrance of that would eventually cause all of his men to lay down their weapons and become disciples of the Buddha.
When Spring comes, plants sprout and flowers bloom naturally. If you want to cause Spring to arise within you, then go forward while single-mindedly entrusting everything to your foundation, your Buddha-nature. Bear in mind that slow-witted people can often make better progress than those who are considered intelligent. When a person of modest intelligence is told to do something, they tend to do it with their whole heart. They focus on only the task at hand and are very genuine and persistent in their efforts. Thus they’ll often achieve good results before people who are considered smarter.
When I look around at how people live, I sometimes feel so profoundly sad for them. It feels like even my bones are about to start crying. Why can’t they trust the inherent nature that leads them even now? Why don’t they trust the light that has guided them for a billion eons?
Don’t let desire mislead you into looking for some wonderful, special thing outside of yourself. Instead, find it within yourself. For example, no matter how good looking someone else’s parents may seem, they’re not better than my own parents. Empty promises of a wonderful treasure somewhere else can’t compare to the treasure I already possess. If you go forward while believing and entrusting everything to the true self that has been guiding you all this time, then Spring will come and you will discover that what you are looking for has always been in front of your eyes.
—Daehaeng Kun Sunim