Mahāyāna vs. Hīnayāna (Discipline is so hard!)

Once upon a time an old lady had supported a monk by providing foods and a place to live for twenty years. One day she wondered if he had progressed and already gotten enlightenment, she tested him. She sent the most beautiful young woman to his cottage, saw what he would behave. At that time he was meditating but the young woman leaned against him and said “How do you feel?” He had never changed his face and answered “It seems as if the dead tree reached a cold rock.” The young woman suddenly returned to the old woman and reported the scene. Unexpectedly the old woman got extremely angry on him, she had kicked out him from her cottage mumbling “I was wrong, I misunderstood about him”. This story is called “婆子焼庵” written in the Zen book “五燈会元”.

What do you think? Why did the old woman get so angry against him? What’s wrong with him? As my understanding, he did right thing, didn’t he? This “koan” is related with idea of 大乗思想 (A large vehicle (Mahāyāna Buddhism). 小乗仏教 (Hīnayāna) is a lesser vehicle Buddhism that seeks an individual enlightenment trying to attain arhat state of mind. It is more like original type of traditional Buddhism that mainly has spread throughout the South Asia. Contrary Mahāyāna Buddhism is a Buddhism that aim to save all the people by Buddha’s teachings and has spread throughout China, Korea, ended up in Japan.

The monk’s attitude was not like a human. It was just test but if it was the real situation, the young woman would be so disappointed, the worst case she would kill herself. Even with the same way of refusing, he could do smiling innocently while saying to the woman “Even if you love me, how can I love you, I cannot receive your love because I am a servant of the Buddha. Why don’t you go home” removing quietly her hand hung on his shoulder. After twenty years of practicing, he could not afford such an affair. There was still somewhere weak in his heart that he must work hard so that he could not defeat the temptation, That’s the old woman thought. What do you think?


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