Practice makes perfect. A raw diamond when after long polishing becomes valuable otherwise it is just like carbon. Once my spiritual master said I was like a raw diamond and in 1995, a very good fortune teller told me that I fell while climbing a mountain. Most people would have been killed by the fall, but I didnít and when I woke up, there was a pot of gold besides me. I realized that after many years of practising Tao, we can be an unique and rare diamond and the reward can be a pot of gold after the period of giving and givingÖ.and asking for nothing in return.




The Thief and His Son

by Derek Lin

August 1999

To explain the study of Zen and Tao, the Fifth Patriarch told this story:

"The Zen we have here is like an old thief who led his son into a mansion
and instructed him to go into a walk-in closet to steal some clothes. As
soon as the son went into the closet, the father closed the door and locked
him in. He then ran through the hallway banging on doors and walls,
making a loud racket before fleeing into the night.

"The residents got up, looked around and realized that there might still
be a thief in the house. They banded together, lit a candle, and started
searching room by room.

"The son, still trapped in the closet, was in a bad situation. Out of
desperation, he made mouse noises, which attracted the searchers'
attention. The master of the mansion ordered his servant to unlock
the closet. The young man sprang out, blew out the candle, pushed
the servant aside, and ran for his life. The residents regrouped and
gave angry pursuit.

"The young man couldnít shake them, but suddenly he saw a well
up ahead and got an idea. He pushed a large rock into the well, and
ran in a different direction. The residents heard the loud splash,
assumed he fell in or jumped in the well, and went looking for
him there.

"Thanks to this ploy, the young man was able to get away cleanly.
He returned home to tell his father what happened. After he
completed his report, his father said, 'You're ready to be a thief now.'"

Okay. What was the point of this rather long-winded story? What
did the Fifth Patriarch mean when he said Zen was like these
characters above? Think about it for a few moments before you
read the next paragraph. Can you guess the meaning of this story?

The main point is that ultimately, Zen and Tao are concepts for
each person to grasp individually. A student of Zen and Tao is
like the young man in this story, and the master is like the father.
A true master will provide a certain amount of guidance and lead
the student along the path to a personal trial. For every piece of
wisdom one gains, there is a corresponding trial which takes place
in oneís heart as well as the mind.

When you undergo this process, you start out just like the young man,
trapped, alone and in the dark. The lock that keeps you trapped isnít a
physical lock. Rather, it represents an obstacle to comprehension, and
you need the key of insight to unlock it. In this critical juncture, it is
entirely up to you to make a breakthrough. No one can help you.

Now why is that? By the above we have described the process, but
not the reason. Why is this something that you must do by your lonesome?

By their very nature, Zen and Tao are highly personal. If someone
were to explain them to you, all you'll get is a version of his
understanding, expressed through the imperfect medium of his
words. It still won't be your own understanding, because something
is always lost in the transition, and his understanding is tied to his
intuitions and perceptions, which are not and can never be your
intuitions and perceptions.

The only way to make Zen and Tao uniquely your own is to find a
way out of this maze in the heart and make your escape to realization
and oneness. During this mental flight, your pursuers are the forces of
ignorance and misconception, and when you succeed in getting away
from them, understanding dawns, and a light bulb comes on in your
mind. You experience that golden "eureka" moment and win another
piece of the Truth.

Thatís what the study of Zen and Tao is all about - personal
breakthroughs leading to personal enlightenment. In the context
of our story today, it's all about qualifying to be a thiefÖ which,
in turn, means taking another step toward becoming a true master.