(34) One night a monk was reciting a sutra bequeathed by Kashyapabuddha. His tone was so mournful, and his voice so faint, as if he were going out of existence. the Buddha asked the monk, “What was your occupation before you became a monk?” Said the monk, “I was very fond of playing the guitar.” The Buddha said, “How did you find it when the strings were too loose?” Said the monk, “No sound is possible.” “How when the strings were too tight?” “They crack.” “How when they were neither too tight nor too loose?” “Every note sounds in its proper tone.” The Buddha then said to the monk, “Religious discipline is also like unto playing a guitar. When the mind is properly adjusted and quietly applied, the Way is attainable; but when your are too fervently bent on it, you body grows tired; and when your body is tired your spirit becomes weary; when your spirit is weary, your discipline will relax; and with the relaxation of discipline there follows many an evil. Therefore, be calm and pure, and the Way will be gained.”
— From ‘The Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters’ in Sermons of a Buddhist Abbot by Soyen Shaku (tr. D. T. Suzuki)
Wanted to share a passage encountered in my reading this morning. This one, I think, provides one of my favourite illustration of the middle way.
My second or third round with this book.