Holes in the Heart
(Clearwisdom.net) Once upon a time, in order to find the true meaning of life, a young man seeking the Tao traveled far from home. Without stopping, he climbed high mountains, crossed dangerous rivers, and visited numerous places looking for a true master to answer his questions. Day after day, he met and asked many people; however, he did not feel he had gained any enlightenment. Disappointed, he pondered and wondered, but he was still not able to figure out why.
Later, he learned from a teacher that there was a high-level monk who had obtained the Tao, living in a mountain not far from his hometown. He could answer all kinds of difficult questions about life. Therefore, he immediately started out in the dark of night and asked around where he could find the monk.
One day, he arrived at the foot of a mountain and saw a woodcutter walking down with two buckets of firewood on his shoulders. The young man asked him, "Brother, do you know exactly where the monk who has obtained the Tao lives in this mountain and what he looks like?" The woodcutter thought for a moment and answered, "It is true that there is such a monk on this mountain. However, people do not know exactly where he lives because he often travels around to offer salvation to predestined people. As to his appearance, some say he looks elegant and unusual and divine halos shine on his body; some say he looks dirty and messy and his clothes are sloppy and shabby. Nobody can really describe him clearly."
After thanking the woodcutter, the young man was determined to find the monk. He traveled way up the mountain without any rest. On the mountain, he met peasants, hunters, children herding animals, people digging herbs, etc. However, he did not find the high-level monk who could tell him the meaning of life.
In despair, he turned around and traveled back down from the mountain. On his way, he met a beggar with a broken bowl in his hands who begged water from the young man. The young man poured some water into the bowl from his water bag. However, the water completely leaked out before the beggar could put his lips to the bowl and drink. Unwillingly, the young man poured more water into the bowl and urged the beggar to drink faster, but just as the bowl reached the beggar's lips, the water all leaked out again.
"How can you possibly drink water using a broken bowl?" The young man said impatiently.
"Poor young man, you have been seeking the meaning of life everywhere and you look unassuming on the surface. However, in your heart, you judge whether others' words meet your expectations. You cannot accept any views that do not satisfy your expectations. Those notions of yours result in big holes in your heart and keep you from finding the answers you seek."
When he heard that, the young man was suddenly enlightened to the point. He immediately bowed to the monk and said, "Master, are you the high-level monk that I have been trying to find?" When there was no reply even though he repeated his question several times, he raised his head and found that beggar had long disappeared.
A bowl with holes cannot hold water; a heart with holes cannot hear the meaning of life.
What are the manifestations of those holes in the heart? Selfishness; jealousy; stubbornness; and being opinionated, suspicious, impetuous, hateful, fearful, arrogant, and cowardly are a few examples. Those mentalities are like holes in the heart. The difference is that people have different kinds of holes in their hearts.
Since humans are not saints and sages, who cannot live without making a single mistake? Since we are lost in the delusion, who can claim to be without loopholes? It is not a terrifying thing to have loopholes. It is terrifying if we do not know that we have loopholes; it is terrifying that we do not mend the loopholes even if we know about them. Consequently, the loopholes will become bigger and bigger, harming one's life and destroying oneself. A heart is not precious unless you are willing to mend the holes.