Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism


“There are many stories of people who were actually able to see the awakened state by breaking into laughter—seeing the contrast, the irony of polar situations. For instance there was the hermit whose devotee lived several miles away in a village. This devotee supported the hermit, supplying him with food and the other necessities of life. Most of the time the devotee sent his wife or daughter or son to bring the hermit his supplies; but one day the hermit heard that the donor himself was coming to see him. The hermit thought, “I must impress him, I must clean and polish the shrine objects and make the shrine very neat and my room extremely tidy.” So he cleaned and rearranged everything until his shrine looked very impressive with bowls of water and butter lamps burning brightly. And when he had finished, he sat down and began to admire the room and look around. Everything looked very neat, somehow unreal, and he saw that his shrine appeared unreal as well. Suddenly, to his surprise he realized that he was being a hypocrite. Then he went into the kitchen and got handfuls of ashes and threw them at the shrine until his room was a complete mess. When his patron came, he was extremely impressed by the natural quality of the room, by its not being tidy. The hermit could not hold himself together. He burst into laughter and said, “I tried to tidy myself and my room, but then I thought perhaps I should show it to you this way.” And so they both, patron and hermit, burst into laugher. That was a great moment of awakening for both of them.”
― Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

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