Maple Leaves in Fall
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"What's the best teaching you've given?" she asked. "The one I couldn't give," replied the Sage.
On another occasion...
A man came to receive a teaching from the Sage. He said, "Sir, please share the most valuable teaching you can give me." The Sage said, "Okay," and sat quietly. After a time, the confused seeker spoke, "How long do you want me to wait for the teaching?" "You mean you didn't receive it," asked the Sage. "I didn't hear you say anything," the man answered. "That's right," the Sage replied, "because you asked for the most valuable teaching, not for me to say something."
*Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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Jim Forest, a close friend of the late Buddhist Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, in Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh, shares the following -
Then Dan [Berrigan] had a question of his ... to ask Thay [Vitnamese, "teacher"]: "Can you explain Zen Buddhism to me?" Thay smiled, turned toward me with a glance of mischief, and said, "Jim will answer that question." My eyes must have widened in astonishment and my face turned red. I knew practically nothing! Anything I said would have been ridiculous. Thay laughed and said, "Jim's silence is the best answer." As for Thay, he gave no explanation, but he did remark, "It is better to look into the eyes of a Zen master than to read all the books."
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Sometimes, I feel frustration after trying to clarify something of a spiritual quality to another. This feeling has nothing to do with preparedness to so speak but with truth itself. Simply... truth is intangible and ineffable. All that even the most prepared can do is offer hints and guidance for others to discover truth for themselves. In fact, can anyone know truth without discovering it for themselves?
I am still learning how sometimes it is best not to try to clarify spiritual wisdom but to offer a question encouraging the other to be open to receive for themself. And where words fail, presence succeeds in communication. Silence is the most direct means of spiritual insight. When we say a word about truth, even when wise, we have moved a step from it.
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What does it mean to say silence is the best answer to a question about spiritual wisdom? What would it mean that we do not teach truth, but it teaches itself? If truth reveals itself, not you, how can you prepare yourself for that to happen through your presence? Have you ever been with someone, alone or with others, and sensed spiritual wisdom through their presence?
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*©Brian K. Wilcox, 2022.
*Use of photography is allowed accompanied by credit given to Brian K. Wilcox and notation of title and place of the photograph.
*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse.