The Stone Mind

Hogen, a Chinese Zen teacher, lived alone in a small temple in the country. One day, four traveling monks appeared and asked if they might make a fire in his yard to warm themselves.

While they were building the fire, Hogen heard them arguing about subjectivity and objectivity. He joined them and said: “There is a big stone. Do you consider it to be inside or outside your mind?”

One of the monks replied: “From the Buddhist viewpoint everything is an objectification of mind, so I would say that the stone is inside my mind.”

“Your head must feel very heavy,” observed Hogen, “if you are carrying around a stone like that in your mind.”

I love this zen story because it succinctly, and always with that clever simplicity, overrides the rational mind, the ego, the voice inside explaining why or justifying the emotional reaction. I’ve read this many times and this time I am struck by the monks answer, relying on the Buddhist viewpoint instead of his own “teacher within” as us yogis like to say.  It’s almost as if he doesn’t know what’s inside his mind, as though he has lost that awareness.

I haven’t written a blog in a while…in fact, I haven’t written anything in a while.  I guess you could say I’ve been carrying a heavy stone inside my mind, objectifying this process of finding an agent, as the reason to write or not write.

But sometimes a stone is just a stone…