You are the Messenger, not the Message

 Zen Traditional Tales

"Tattoo inside your eyelids this reminder: 'you are the messenger, not the message. You are just like everyone else.' "

This was the advice given by a charismatic Zen teacher to a class of Zen teachers-in-training. "What do you mean?" they asked her.

"I'll begin with a story about a besieged town that was surrounded by enemies who would slaughter all the inhabitants if help didn't arrive. Just when things looked hopeless, a messenger slipped through enemy lines with the message that the army of the Shogun would attack in the morning and drive off the invaders.

"The townspeople were so enraptured with this news that they treated the messenger like a hero. And after the Shogun's army left, they elected the messenger mayor. Though a pleasant fellow, the man turned out to be a thoroughly inept leader and was soon sent away in disgrace. "The lesson here is never confusing the message--which is the precious gift of Buddha--with the messenger. You are only a messenger.

"When you stun an audience with the wisdom of a lecture, when your students cede to you the molding of their minds, when you are treated as someone special, focus on the message inside your eyelids:

You are the messenger, not the message.

You are just like everyone else."




Source: Zen Fables For Today

Torio Tokuan said, "Do not consider yourself elevated in comparison to ordinary people. Those who are commonplace just rise and fall on the road to fame and profit, without practicing the Way or following the Way.
"They are only to be pitied, not despised or resented. Do not give rise to judgemental thoughts by comparing yourself to them: do not lead to ideas of higher and lower.

"This is the attitude needed to enter the Way of the sages and saints, buddhas, and bodhisattvas.
Therefore we place ourselves in the state of ordinary people, assimilating to the ordinary, while our will is on the Way, and we investigate its wonders."

Source: Zen Antics

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