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Between Master and Disciples

The Story of Master Confucius and Xiang Tuo, Part 11 of 13, Mar 10, 2021

2021-05-05
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So, is it nice that you are a practitioner? You can always see your parents even when they pass away and even can continue helping them to elevate spiritually. So that’s the most filial deed you can do for your parents.

“So, He said to the boy, ‘Hey, you know? Can you listen? I want to ask you some questions. What kind of mountain has no stones? In what kind of water there are no fish? What kind of door will not close? And then what kind of carriage has no wheels? What kind of ox will not bear a calf? What kind of horse will not give a foal? What kind of fire gives no smoke? What kind of man has no wife? What kind of woman has no husband? What kind of day is short? What kind of day is longer? What kind of tree has no branches and leaves? What kind of citadel has no officials in it? And what kind of person has no personal name?’” Can you answer all that for me? (We are lost.) I can! I can because I read it. All right.

“So, the little boy was very composed and peaceful, answered Him after thinking a little bit only. He said, ‘Sir, a clay mountain has no stones.’” Because some mountains are just earth, there’s no stones. “So he said, ‘A clay mountain has no stones. The water in the well will have no fish swimming in it.’” It’s also water, right? “‘The well water has no fish in it. Any door that has no panel cannot close.’ He asked, ‘What kind of carriage has no wheels?’ So the boy said, ‘The carriage that’s carried by people’” − we call it a palanquin of course − “‘has no wheels.’” Wow! “‘The ox statue that’s made by earth will not give a calf. The wooden horse will not give a foal. The deities… The male deities…’” Because mostly people think deities are male. So, “‘The male deities don’t have wives. Female fairies don’t have husbands.’” Wow! That’s a lot to think. I wouldn’t be able to answer that. “‘Winter days are short. Summer days are long. The dead tree will not have any branches or leaves.’” They still call it a tree, right? Correct? (Yes.) He’s not wrong. “‘The deserted citadel will not have any officials in it. The baby just born doesn’t have any name.’” Wow! It’s all correct, right? (Yes, Master.)

So, Hạng Thác (Xiang Tuo) just gave Him one roll of answers like that, without pausing in between even. Wow! “And then he continued: ‘Now it’s my turn, Sir. May I ask You some questions also?’” Of course, what do you think Confucius answered? (Yes.) He cannot say no, right? He cannot say no to the kid whom He had asked so many questions and in front of all of His disciples. So, I guess that He said yes. He did not say “yes” yet, the boy continued asking immediately. He worried that if Confucius said no, then he has no chance, I guess. Such a clever boy. He must have been born like a genius. (Yes.)

It’s not like often we have such genius or intelligent human beings on our planet. It’s just rare. (Yes.) Nowadays we also have some young boys who went to college and all that. Went to university because he’s super intelligent for high school. For example. And many geniuses at a young age, they play already the piano or other instruments or having some other scientific theories and stuff like that. (Yes.) So it’s not often, but it does exist.

Like the Buddha, the legend has it that when He was born, He already walked seven steps. And each step He walked, there was a lotus that protected His feet already. Maybe that’s why His mother died so quickly. She must have been too shocked. His mother passed away after birth. Can’t remember how long, but maybe too shocked. But in the old time, we didn’t have a lot of good medicine for after-birth problems. So, she was maybe one of those unfortunate. Or maybe she had done her job, her duty for this world, and then she was born in Heaven immediately. Afterward, the Buddha went to that Heaven to pay respect to His mother and also give her some spiritual guidance and lectures.

So, is it nice that you are a practitioner? You can always see your parents even when they pass away and even can continue helping them to elevate spiritually. So that’s the most filial deed you can do for your parents. Is that not so? (Yes, Master.)

So, it’s a different kind of filiality. And to take care of your parents when they are alive is also filial. But to help their soul and to liberate them after they pass away, that’s even more filial. Like in many Buddhist stories that we have heard, that even can rescue the mother from hell. Even from the nonstop hell. Like Maudgalyayana or like Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva when He was still a human being. Remember? Etc. (Yes.) What else now?

“So he asked immediately. The boy said, ‘Now it’s my turn, Sir. May I ask You questions?’ And then he said, ‘How come the geese and the ducks, they float on top of water? Why do the flamingos make such a noise, their voices are so loud like that? And the pine trees and such similar, they are all green all four seasons. How come even in winter they’re also green?’” You know, right? The pine trees and similar trees. They are green all year round, even in winter. Many other trees, they lose their leaves in autumn, and maybe look like dead and dry in winter, right? (Yes.) “‘How come this kind of tree is still green?’ So, Confucius answered him, ‘The geese and the ducks, they are floating because they have webbed feet and also use that like a paddle. The flamingos’ voices are very loud because they have very long neck.’”

Oh, Confucius is going to have a problem. I don’t remember what the boy will tell Him, but I think He will have a problem. Because the tigers, they don’t have a long neck, they’re loud, very loud. Lions and all that and so on. And even, a giraffe has a longer neck even. He doesn’t make loud noises like that. The giraffes, they don’t, right? (No.) I have never met them, but I guess they don’t. They’re not famous for loud noises. Too busy touching the tree, reaching the high branch to eat.

“‘And the pine family kind of trees, similar trees are green all year round, even in winter, because their trunks are very solid and strong and hard inside.’ ‘Oh!’ Hạng Thác loudly proclaimed and laughed. He said, ‘Oh, Sir, that’s not true!’” I knew it, I knew it, even though I forgot. But I knew it because it’s so simple, right? Many animals have long necks, they don’t make a lot of noise. (Yes, Master.) Even the swans, the swans that I knew, they call them “mute,” they’re mute. They just make very little noise. Their necks are very long also. You know, right? (Yes.) You know from my book called “The Noble Wilds.” I talk about the swans. You can see how long their necks are. Similar to that flamingo that He said.

So, “‘Sir, it’s not true, it’s not correct. The turtle, he floats on top of the water, not because they have this kind of webbed feet. The type of frog (bullfrog), their voice is very, very loud, but they don’t have any neck, even. Almost no neck. They don’t have a long neck. And the bamboos, they’re also green all seasons, but their inside is hollow.’” Is it true? (Yes, Master.) The bamboo doesn’t have any solid and strong trunk. They’re empty inside. (Yes, Master.)

Wow! Confucius, I’m so sorry. Really am sorry. I always tell my disciples “I don’t know” when I don’t know. I ask them everything from A to Z about computers. I even ask them more often also, “How about this? I cannot do this, I cannot do that,” and they will give me advice. And I always thank them, humbly.

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