One's Mindset Makes All the Difference

Chen Chen

PureInsight | August 6, 2007

[] A farmer with
a bundle of firewood on his shoulder walked towards home weakly. He had
to take a break from time to time since the firewood was too heavy for
him to carry.

Two passersby witnessed this situation. Passerby A shook his head and
sighed: "My gosh! How can one be so useless? For such a light bundle of
firewood, he needs to take breaks!" Passerby B remarked with
compassion, "Although the firewood is not very heavy, it is heavier
than he is able to carry. I truly admire his persistence. I think he
can carry this bundle of firewood home with this kind of spirit. If I
can help along the way, I can also lessen his burden somewhat."

I remember there is a famous legend from the classical literature. One
day, Su Dongpo, a renowned statesman, poet, and calligrapher in the
Northern Song dynasty, and an old Zen monk chatted over a cup of tea.
Su remarked to the old monk, "You look like a pile of manure." The old
monk smiled and said to Su: "You look like a Buddha to me!"  After
Su got home, he joyfully told his younger sister what had happened. His
sister laughed and said. "Well, well. Sounds like the old monk has the
better disposition. Su suddenly realized that the old monk had a higher

From the farmer's story, I thought of how the two passersby reacted so
differently to the same situation. Passerby A was so arrogant and
looked down upon the frail farmer while passerby B, with a
compassionate mind, not only didn't laugh at the farmer, but also
wanted to help him along the way. So, we can tell the difference
between their mindsets.

The story of Su Dongpo and the old Zen monk help people think more
deeply. Su saw the old monk as a pile of manure while the old monk saw
Su as a Buddha.  On the surface, it seemed Su is nobler and the
old monk is extremely repulsive. When we ponder upon the story more
carefully, we see the difference in their mindsets.

Although these two stories are different, they actually illustrate the
same issue. One with a beautiful mind sees everything as beautiful and
the words he speaks are also beautiful. On the other hand, one with an
ugly mind can always find faults with others and it's easy for him to
say bad words. One with a kind mind will always see the good side of
others while one with an evil mind sees other's shortcoming

So, whether a thing is good or bad does not depend on the thing itself:
It is really depends on one's mindset in facing it and the result can
be totally different.

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