Meditation & Health #4 – Mothers Are Buddhas
Mothers Are Buddhas
Translation by Mi Zhe
During the Ming Dynasty, there was a young man from Anhui province called Yangfu. His father passed away when he was very young, so he was brought up by his mother. The early passing of his father made Yangfu reflect deeply on the impermanence of life. As a result, he decided to pursue a Buddhist path as soon as he reached adulthood. After hearing that Zen master Wuji was the reincarnation of a bodhisattva, he traveled a long distance to learn from him.
When he met Wuji, he asked where Buddhas could be found. The Zen master told him, “On your way back, when you look for a place to rest for the night, the person who will open the door for you wrapped in a quilt and wearing shoes the wrong way is a Buddha.”
After leaving the master, Yangfu began searching for Buddhas. Climbing high mountains and crossing wide rivers, he knocked on countless doors to find resting places. He closely examined each person who opened doors for him; none fit the Zen master’s description of a Buddha. Feeling very disappointed, he headed home.
It was midnight when he arrived at his doorstep. Utterly exhausted, he knocked and called out, “Mother, please open the door quickly.”
His mother had not been able to stop worrying about him since his departure. Hearing her son’s voice, she sprang from her bed. She hurriedly wrapped herself in a quilt and stuffed her left foot in her right shoe and her right foot in her left shoe, and ran to the door.
When she saw that her son had indeed returned safely, her heart was at peace.
Yangfu gazed at his mother as she stood in the night chill awkwardly wrapped in a quilt, wearing shoes the wrong way. In that moment, Yangfu remembered the Zen master’s words: “The one who will open the door for you wrapped in a quilt and wearing shoes the wrong way is a Buddha.” He came to the sudden realization that the person he had been searching for far and wide was right in front of him.
Mothers are Buddhas.