Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Correct Practice

I was skimming Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh the other day when I read this part that made me laugh out loud:

"There is a story I would like to tell you about a woman who practices the invocation of the Buddha Amitabha's name. She is very tough, and she practices the invocation three times daily, using a wooden drum and a bell, reciting, "Namo Amitabha Buddha" for one hour each time. When she arrives at one thousand times, she invites the bell to sound. (In Vietnamese, we don't say "strike" or "hit" a bell.) Although she has been doing this for ten years, her personality has not changed. She is still quite mean, shouting at people all the time.

A friend wanted to teach her a lesson, so one afternoon when she had just lit the incense, invited the bell to sound three times, and was beginning to recite "Namo Amitabha Buddha," he came to her door, and said, "Mrs. Nguyen, Mrs. Nguyen!" She found it very annoying because this was her time of practice, but he just stood at the front gate shouting her name. She said to herself, "I have to struggle against my anger, so I will ignore that," and she went on, "Namo Amitabha Buddha, Namo Amitabha Buddha."

The gentleman continued to shout her name, and her anger became more and more oppressive. She struggled against it, wondering, "Should I stop my recitation and go and give him a piece of my mind?" But she continued chanting, and she struggled very hard. Fire mounted in her, but she still tried to chant "Namo Amitabha Buddha." The gentleman knew it, and he continued to shout, "Mrs. Nguyen! Mrs. Nguyen!"

She could not bear it any longer. She threw away the bell and the drum. She slammed the door, went out to the gate and said, "Why, why do you behave like that? Why do you call my name hundreds of times like that?" The gentleman smiled at her and said, "I just called your name for ten minutes, and you are so angry. You have been calling the Buddha's name for ten years. Think how angry he must be!""
How I wished I could do that to that mosque nearby.

It's not about how often or how loud you do something, it's about how correctly you do something in order to be better.


colson said...

Yeah. Vietnamese wisdom. Zen. Silence. Even a Christian monastery would do.

Why is that people who claim to possess the absolute truths use to think they have to shout them into the ears of innocent outsiders?

Loudmouthed political demonstrations, noisy religious manifestations, popular music fans, out-ot-their-mind football crowds and deafening traffic jams - all of them should be banned.

Twice we ( my wife and I) experienced the nightly hardship of (a) nearby mosque(s); the first time when we stayed a week in a little hotel near a mosque in Bukittingi and the second time when we were in Jakarta at the end of Ramahdan. That night it went on and on and on. All night long. From that moment on I was immune to getting converted...

triesti said...

@colson, I can imagine you pain.. Sometimes, when the sound is clear, it can be nice to hear them for a moment, both most of the time the sound is not even audible eventho it's loud, it's more a torture than anything else.

Sometimes I think all the shouting is actually to make themselves unable to hear other inputs, so that they wont have to rethink about their so called truth.