johnsu01 (johnsu01) wrote,

Asking for Nothing

From "A Flock of Fools: Ancient Buddhist Tales of Wisdom and Laughter from the One Hundred Parable Sutra", translated and retold by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt

ASKING FOR NOTHING A long time ago, two men were traveling together on the open road. They came upon a man who was trying to pull a cart filled with sesame seeds up a steep hill, but the poor man wasn't able to budge the cart even one inch. When the man saw the travelers, he called, "Help! Give me a hand pushing this cart up the hill." But before either of the travelers would move a muscle, they demanded, "What will you give us if we help?" The man with the cart replied, "I will give you nothing."

So the two men bent their shoulders to the task and helped push the cart to the top of the hill where it could stand on level ground. After catching their breath, the two men said, "Now give us what is ours, " but, of course, the man replied, "I promised to give you nothing, and that is what I have to give."

Hearing this, one of the travelers said, "Well, come on, then, give us our nothing."

The other traveler smiled at his companions and said, "He hasn't agreed to give us anything. Why are you complaining?"

The other man stood his ground and answered, "Because I want my nothing, that's why. There must be something called nothing."

At this the other man just laughed. Then he said, "Nothing is just two words together to make another word. No more than that."

Those with little understanding become attached to the idea of emptiness and, as a result, they mistake the true meaning of the statement that "nothing exists." A wise person knows that emptiness means there is no separate self, no seeking, and no attachment. The difference in understanding between these two kinds of people is vast indeed.

Tags: book, buddhism, emptiness, quote
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