WHAT ARE YOU DOING? – Zen Stories #1

Ma Tsu stayed in Ch’uan Fa temple at Nan Yo where he had a hut to live in seclusion and practise meditation. He did not look at those calling on him. One day, Huai Jang came to see him but Ma Tsu paid no attention to the visitor. Seeing the unusual expression of Ma Tsu’s face, Huai Jang remembered the Sixth Patriarch’s prediction and tried his best to convert Ma Tsu (to the Mind Dharma).

Huai Jang then took a brick to the door of the hut and rubbed the brick, but Ma Tsu also paid no attention. After a long while, Ma Tsu asked:

‘What are you doing?’

Huai Jang replied:

‘I am rubbing a brick to make a mirror.’

Ma Tsu said:

‘How can you make a mirror by rubbing a brick?’

The master said:

‘If a mirror cannot be made by rubbing a brick, how can one become a Buddha by sitting in meditation?’

Ma Tsu then rose from his seat and asked the master:

‘What should one do then?’

The master said:

‘If a cart drawn by an ox does not move, is it correct to whip the ox or the cart?’

The First Generation After the Patriach Hui Neng:
Ch’an Master Huai Jang of Nan Yo Mountain (677-744)

Translated from 古尊宿語錄 Guzunsu yulu [Recorded Sayings of the Ancient Worthies]
by Lu K’uan Yü (Charles Luk)
In: The Transmission of the Mind Outside the Teaching
Rider & Co., London, 1974, pp. 32-37.