When Taoist Immortal Met Buddhist Master
Taoism is an ancient Chinese philosophy that emphasizes living in harmony with the natural world and embracing simplicity. Its teachings have had a significant impact on both Eastern and Western cultures, including the field of psychology. One prominent figure in psychology who was influenced by Taoism is Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.
Jung’s complex concept of “the Self” is one of his most significant contributions to psychology. The Self represents the totality of an individual’s psyche, including both conscious and unconscious elements. According to Jung, the Self is the goal of the individuation process, a lifelong journey of self-discovery and personal growth.
In ancient China, there were eight prominent figures in Taoism, and Lu Dongbin was the most popular one. Besides being a renowned Taoist, he was also a skilled poet and scholar. Throughout history, many legendary stories and folk tales have been told about him.
One interesting story was recorded in a Buddhist book called JiaTai Pu Deng Lu (嘉泰普灯录), which has also been documented in several other books, including XinShi Heng Yan (醒世恒言). Although there are some variations, the main points of the story remain the same. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III also told this story in his dharma discourse: Expounding the Absolute Truth through the Heart Sutra.
Once, Lu Dongbin asked his master, “Master, why did you only save me for a thousand years?”
His master replied, “It’s difficult to teach all living beings. People’s habits are deeply ingrained, and they constantly change. Most living beings find it challenging to learn our Taoism.”
Lu Dongbin countered, “Master, I disagree. We are powerful beings. Are we afraid it will be difficult to liberate them? Let me go down and liberate people for you. I will free a thousand souls every year.”
His master warned, “You may go down to Earth, but be careful not to provoke the monks. Some cannot be trifled with.”
Lu Dongbin descended from the South Gate of Heaven on an auspicious cloud and saw the golden light of Huanglong Temple in Shanghai, China. Zen Master Huanglong was teaching the Heart Sutra and explaining Prajna principles. Lu Dongbin decided to listen in and transformed himself into a fly, sticking to the door.
However, Zen Master Huanglong was a powerful monk who knew Lu Dongbin was eavesdropping. He stopped teaching and instructed his attendant to remove the “person who stole our Dharma.”
Enraged, Lu Dongbin revealed his true form, brandishing his Qingfeng sword and accusing Zen Master Huanglong of insulting him. Lu Dongbin told Zen Master: “I am the great Taoist Immortal LU Dongbin.” Huanglong found it amusing and called Lu Dongbin a “ghoul guard” who would eventually die in vain.
Lu Dongbin drew his sword, but Zen Master Huanglong remained unperturbed, blocking the sword with his sleeve. Lu Dongbin knelt before the Zen master, feeling ashamed.
Huanglong proceeded to teach Lu Dongbin sudden enlightenment dharma, explaining that “speech is cut off, and mind is silenced.” As a god, Lu Dongbin was able to grasp the teaching quickly and had an epiphany.
After his enlightenment, Lu Dongbin wrote a gatha containing the line, “Since I met Huanglong, I realized that I mistakenly used my mind in the past.”
In Buddhist teachings, it is said that even the highest Taoist practitioner can reach heaven, but still remain in the realm of the birth and death cycle. However, if one can realize and abide in the original nature, then they can break through this cycle and achieve liberation. The original nature refers to the pure dharma body of all sentient beings within the three spheres of existence (triloka), which is united with the universe. It has no form, shape, physical body, or appearance. All living beings possess this original nature equally, which is the same as the dharma body of the Tathagata or dharmakaya. It neither comes nor goes, and is neither excessive nor lacking. It is immaculate, free from any notion of cleanliness or dirtiness.
When Taoist Immortal Met Buddhist Master
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