If nirvana is not to be found by grasping, there can be no question of approaching it by stages, by the slow process of the accumulation of knowledge. It must be realized in a single flash of insight, which is satori, the familiar Zen term for sudden awakening.

- Alan Watts

The monk Tao-hsin was walking in the forest with the sage Fa-yung, who lived alone in the temple on Mount Niu-t'ou, and was so holy that the birds used to bring him offerings of flowers. As the two men were walking, the roar of a wild animal sounded nearby, making Tao-hsin jump frightfully. Fa-yung said, "I see it is still with you!" (attachment to the Earthly illusion). Later on, the two were sitting on two stones next to the temple when Fa-yung went inside to fetch the tea. While he was gone, Tao-hsin wrote the Chinese character for Buddha on the rock where Fa-yung had been sitting. When Fa-yung returned to sit down again, he saw the sacred Name written there and hesitated to sit. "I see," said Tao-hsin, "it is still with you!" And thus Fa-yung became fully awakened...and the birds brought flowers no more.

(back to Everything I-Ching)

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