A Zen Master, a Scorpion, and a Fisherman


Scorpion
Scorpion

Image is from A Safer Way to Milk a Scorpion – D-brief

A Zen master was meditating in the river when he heard the sound of struggling. He saw a scorpion splashing in the water when he opened his eyes. He reached out and pulled it out, but he was stung by the scorpion. He put the scorpion on the shore, continued to meditate.

After a while, he heard the sound of struggling again. He opened his eyes and saw that the scorpion had fallen into the water again. He picked it up again to put it back on the shore; he was stung again, of course. But he continued to meditate. Again, after some time, the same misfortune happened again.

A fisherman nearby said to him, “Are you stupid, don’t you know the scorpion will sting?” The Zen master replied, “I know, the scorpion stung me three times.” The fisherman was puzzled. “Why do you still want to save it?” The Zen master replied, “The sting is its nature, but compassion is my nature, and my nature will not change because of its nature.”

At this time, he heard the sound of the struggling again. Yes, it was that same scorpion. He looked at his swollen hands and then looked at the struggling scorpion in the water; he reached out again without hesitation. Before he could pick up the scorpion, the fisherman gave him a dry branch. The Zen master used this branch to pick up the scorpion and place it on the shore instead.

Image result for a scorpion splashing in the water

Image is from A Safer Way to Milk a Scorpion – D-brief

The fisherman smiled and said, “It is right and proper to be merciful. But if you want to be compassionate to a scorpion, you have to treat yourself the same. To be able to be compassionate to others, we should have the means to do that.”

When you can be kind to yourself, then you can be kind to others. I liked the story; it reminds me of the saying: “It is not easy to be a nice person.” Indeed, It is in their nature for a kind person to do a good deed. But the object of doing good is not necessarily good; the result of doing good does not necessarily bring you the good fruit. Why is this so? As the fisherman said: “You need the means of compassion to be able to be compassionate to others.”

Compassion is right, but you need to apply it to both the scorpion and yourself. It reminds us that the means of compassion are first to be accountable to yourself and then to be accountable to others. If a person cannot even take care of himself, how can he take care of others? When you can treat yourself well, then you are qualified and able to treat others well.

The Zen master often has an insight into the philosophical things that make people suddenly see the truth, but they are confused about simple things. Everyday people, on the other hand, understand simple and down to earth truths that show that zen is in everyone.

The original text is in Chinese (http://blog.xuite.net/deivyavan/blog/206053768), I translated it into English so you can enjoy this enlightening story.

禪者、蠍子與漁夫

一個禪者在河邊打坐時,聽到掙紮的聲音。
睜開眼睛一看是,一隻蠍子正在水裏掙紮。
他伸手把它撈上來,被蠍子豎起的毒刺蟄了一下。

他把蠍子放到岸上,繼續打坐。
過了一會兒,他又聽到掙紮的聲音。
睜開眼睛一看,蠍子又掉到水裏了。
他又把它救上來,當然又被蟄了一下。
他繼續打坐。 過了一會兒,他又有了相同的不幸遭遇。

旁邊的漁夫說:“你真蠢,難道不知道蠍子
會蟄人嗎?”“知道,被它蟄三次了。”
“那你為什麽還要救它?”
“蟄人是它的本性,慈悲是我的本性。
我的本性不會因為它的本性而改變。”

這時,他又聽到掙紮的聲音。
一看,還是那只隻蠍子。他看著自己腫起來的手,
看看水裏掙紮的蠍子毫不猶豫地再次向它伸出手去。

這時,漁夫把一個幹枯的樹枝遞到他手上。
禪者用這根樹枝撈起蠍子,放到岸邊。
漁父笑著說,“慈悲是對的,既要慈悲蠍子,
也要慈悲自己。

保護好自己,才有資格善待別人。
我很喜歡這個故事,這讓我想到人們常說的
一句話:“這年頭,好人難做”。
是啊,好人行善,是他的本性。但行善的對象
卻不一定也是善的;行善的結果也不一定是善果。

為什麽會這樣呢?正如漁夫所言:
“慈悲要有慈悲的手段。”
“慈悲是對的,既要慈悲蠍子,也要慈悲自己。”

實際上是在提醒我們:首先要對自己負責,
才能真正做到對其他人負責。
很難想象,一個連自己都照顧不好的人,
怎麽可以照顧好別人。

保護好自己,在有資格,才有能力去善待別人。

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