Once a young monk fell asleep in the Meditation Hall while the monks were chanting the Buddha Name. The monks had been there in the hall since the early hours of the morning with the chant of the word “Amitofuo” resounding through the temple. Unceasing, the chant continued into the late afternoon.
When the Master noticed a young monk asleep he asked him: “Why are you sleeping during the chanting, my son?” “Master, I do not see the purpose. I have chanted and chanted and nothing has changed. Maybe I am not suited to this practice.” “Then come with me replied the Master.” The kindly Master led the young novice to his room. “Bring me your water glass”, demanded the Master. The novice went inside his room and returned with his glass full of water. The Master took the glass and went to his office. Taking a calligraphy brush he rolled it with some water into the ink stone then dipped the brush into the young monk’s glass of water. Suddenly there were swirls of black in the clear water. The young monk stood transfixed as the clear water turned completely black.
“Now, my son, remove the ink without tipping out or refilling the glass. If you can do this then you will have wisdom of the dharma.”
The young monk seemed to fumble for words now wishing he had not fallen asleep during the chanting and wondering what punishment the Master was going to mete out. “But Venerable Master I cannot do this.” “Good reply”, came the Master. Then the old Venerable took the novice back outside to a place just under the eaves of the tiled roof of the monks’ quarters. The old Venerable look up then down as if to be positioning the glass. Then with deliberate precision he placed the glass full of inky black water on walk way. “There, my son. Sit here and contemplate and meditate on the glass until I tell you to move.” The young monk did just as the Venerable had asked him.
One hour passed . . . then two. . . then three. The young monk focused with concentration on the glass of inky water contemplating how he could remove the dark water without tipping it out. While doing so large dark rain clouds began to amass overhead. There were distant rumblings of thunder. Soon small droplets of rain began to fall then a deluge broke loose. Rain began to fall in torrents upon the tiled roof sending streams into the spouting. Before long droplets of rain water began to fall into the glass precisely where the Master had positioned it. Droplet after droplet after droplet the drops fell into the glass. Soon the glass was full to the brim and began to over flow with the inky water gradually being displaced. Each raindrop sounded like the “tock” of the ‘muyu’ – the wooden fish the monks strike in time with the chanting. The young monk watched with glee as gradually the inky water was displaced by the droplets of cool clear rain water.
Eventually the rain stopped. The young monk sensed the presence of the Master and looked up at him with a glowing smile. The Venerable smiled in turn knowing that enlightenment had come upon the novice. “The rain removed the inky water, Master” came the novice. “And removed the ignorance from your mind as well” returned the Master.