These Are Bamboos – A Zen Story
Summary: This is a Zen story about a man longing to reach higher states like Budha, and going in search of a master. After a steep climb, he finds the master at the top of a mountain. The master shows him some bamboo vegetation and asks him a couple of questions, and then leaves. Sadhguru explains, that the conclusions we draw from our five senses are always in comparison to something else. If one wants to perceive life, then one has to move beyond the five sense perceptions.
article originally published on isha.sadhguru.org
These are Bamboos – A Zen Story
Story: A man who heard about Buddha’s life started longing to reach higher states within himself just like the Buddha did. He met many masters and enquired about the Buddha, but he was not satisfied with their explanations. Then one person told him that there was a master living on the peak of certain mountain and that he knew everything about the Buddha. “Go ask him,” the person told him.
So the man trekked up the difficult mountain path, finally reached the master’s hut and entered. He noticed there were many disciples there already. The master was talking to his many disciples. When he saw this man, the master asked him to come closer and asked him, “What do you want?”
The man said, “I am wandering in search of the Buddha’s teachings. I have met many scholars, but nobody could fully answer my questions. I heard that you will be able to explain this better than all the others so I came to you.”
“Oh! Please be seated. I will tell you after all of them leave,” said the Zen master.
The man was satisfied. He concluded that this master must be really good for so many disciples to gather around him. The master spoke with each of his disciples and then sent them on their way. Finally, he came to the man and said, “Come with me!” He led the man across the slopes. After covering a certain distance, they came upon some vegetation before them. The master pointed to it and asked, “What is this?”
The man replied, “Bamboo.”
The master then pointed to other bamboo shoots that were off to the side and asked, “When you look at these, what do you see?”
The man said, “That bamboo is tall. This bamboo has not yet grown up and is short.”
The master said, “These are bamboos!” and started walking back to his hut.
Sadhguru: Let us say you are six feet tall. When you are among people who have not crossed five and a half feet, you will think you are tall. You will walk like a tall person, sit like a tall person, and run like a tall person. If we suddenly transport you to another country, where the minimum height is eight feet, you will suddenly feel short, walk like a short person and sit like a short person.
The conclusions people draw from their five senses are predominantly in comparison with something else. Comparison is only needed to conduct our affairs in day-to-day life. If you touch something that is cold, it just means that your body is hot. Seeing things in comparison like this is not true perception. If you want to perceive life in its true dimension, you must stop comparing and making conclusions that this is high or low, tall or short, beautiful or ugly. Whether you are six feet or eight feet tall, but ultimately you are still yourself.
Whether it is Buddha’s teaching or the basics of Yoga, it is just about perceiving life the way it is. For this to happen, you have to move beyond what is recorded by the five senses.