The Life & Sayings of the Sage Zaixos. ~ Andrew Wilson

Via on Jun 22, 2011
Photo: archer10

Going Greek.

Here cut and pasted below is a piece based on the hypothetical premise of direct mind to mind transmission from a Buddhist monk to a Greek philosopher.  The Greek philosopher wakes up to original Mind and thereby become a kind of Zen Master.

While still a young man, Zaixos went with Alexander’s army to the Indus Valley. There he heard a sage in a yellow robe preach the following words: “Form is only emptiness; emptiness is only form.” His mind opened. “For the first time in my life, I could breathe without effort.”

*

As soon as he returned to Greece Zaixos gave away his armor and sword, put his younger brother in charge of the family estate and, ignoring the pleas of his mother and sisters, made his way to a cave near the summit of Mt. Olympus, where he sat facing a wall every day and night for six years. When not seated in the cave, he was always walking or running like a young goat on mountain paths. He begged for his food – fresh sheep’s milk cheese, bread, olives –from the shepherds, or gathered bitter greens to boil. When his mother heard all this, she tore at her clothes.

*

“Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. Likewise, yesterday was the tomorrow of the day before. Actually it’s all the same day. Let’s stop playing with words.”

*

Strolling through Athens’ marketplace, he remarked with a sardonic laugh: “The bridegroom has entered the hall and his footsteps shake the rafters, yet the wedding party is still asleep.”

*

“Even the richest palace has an outhouse or a sewer flowing underneath. In great Thebes, a fishwife shrieks at her crippled daughter. Men living on other worlds are just as unhappy as you.”

*

“The world is so old that if perfection were possible, it would already have been achieved. But perfection is like the dream of a beggar shivering under a pile of straw in a frozen field. If it weren’t beyond your grasp, you would already have it.”

*

In a dispute with philosophers who argued over whether the cosmos was transient or eternal, or made of water, fire, or dust, Zaixos only said: “The thing is broken.”

*

Asked what he thought about when he sat in his cave, Zaixos said: “It thinks me.But in the end it gets tired and falls asleep. Only then do I wake up.”

*

Once in the marketplace of Thessaly he hurled a costly bowl to the ground, shattering it. “If it didn’t have a void inside, it would not have broken,” he claimed. Brought before a jury for breaking the bowl, Zaixos said, “True – I broke the bowl, but not the emptiness that was in it. Nor the memory of the bowl in your heads, which comes to the same thing” A jury member said, “Zaixos, I’ll pay for the bowl. Just let me follow you and listen to your words.” Zaixos laughed and said, “Quite a deal. Pay for that broken bowl and you’re buying emptiness, which outlasts the world.” Another jury member jumped up, discarding both robes and jewels, and followed Zaixos back to the mountains.

*

King Theonides visited Zaixos in his cave, wanting advice on how to rule. Zaixos said, “Your chariot wheel has a hole in the center. The wheel turns because of this empty space. Your ear also hears men’s words because it has a hole in it.” After this, King Theonides was to be found in his palace many hours of day or night hearing the petitioners. He soon became known as “Theonides the Wise,” and “Theonides the Considerate.” Zaixos, hearing about the dramatic change in King Theonides, remarked: “Listening is better than speaking – it doesn’t tire you out as much, and sometimes you can even use the time to think about other things that are important to you.”

*

An aristocrat sought out Zaixos, saying: “My son is always going out to banquets, wearing a peacock’s finery. He spends our family fortune on fine wines. He even insists on chilling his wines with snow carted from the summit of Mt. Ida. How will I help him to grasp the seriousness of life?” Zaixos said, “Hire some men to pose as bandits and kidnap him when he leaves the house tonight. Have them name a high ransom and send a messenger to you, who will soon return with word that you have refused to pay. Then one of the men should draw his sword as if to cut off your son’s head. At the last moment, they should seem to change their minds and turn him loose in disgust.” The aristocrat followed Zaixos’ advice. Next morning, the man’s son came to him in tears and kissed his hand, then embraced his mother. After that he put on sober dark clothing, and visited Apollo’s temple to sacrifice a ram. He never attended another banquet until the one thrown for his wedding.

*

Pairos sent a delegation of elders to Zaixos’ cave. The city’s dispute with a powerful neighboring city had brought on war. “Our enemies are now on the march, and our women are sharpening knives to cut the throats of our children, so they will not be raped or sold into slavery.” Zaixos said, “Take your soldiers inside the walls and have them give all their armor, lances, swords, and shields to the women. When the enemy shows up, send the women out to fight.” They did so. The enemy forces broke up and fled in a panic.

*

A fierce bandit entered Zaixos’ cave to kill him. He found the sage standing by a fire warming his hands. “Come in and warm up a little,” Zaixos said. “It’s bitter cold out there.” When asked why he had not struck down Zaixos he said, “I just couldn’t. It would have been like killing my own mother.”

*

A madwoman who had been wandering the hills frightening the shepherds regained her senses when Zaixos spoke to her in passing. She returned to her native village and opened a small wine-shop. The man who had raped her as a child, driving her mad, still lived nearby. One evening he came into the shop and ordered a jar of wine, watching her closely. She served without showing any sign of agitation. She even smiled. He went home and ate supper in silence with his wife and children, then went outside saying that he wanted to look in on the horses. In the morning his slave found him hanging from a barn rafter. All that the madwoman ever said about Zaixos was: “As soon as he spoke to me, my mind cleared, like a sky swept clean by the north wind. Each moment I’ve lived since then has been like a pebble sparkling in the bed of a clear stream.”

*

Zaixos said, “I would sooner let another man blow his nose on my sleeve than read words written in books.”

*

Zaixos once taught a young slave to box. He made the boy run all day in the mountains, and gave him only bread to eat and water to drink. He said, “Closely observe your opponent as he prepares to fight. Take on his bearing and expression. He will be unable to touch you. No man can strike himself.” Also: “Stroll into the ring as you would into your own house at the end of a work-day. Think of the opponent as your guest and brother. If he tries to hit you, step away or duck your head. If he tries to grasp you, get behind him in a flash. Do not attack until he breathes with effort and move sluggishly. Then attack like a thunderbolt, or an eagle dropping out of the sky to seize a rabbit.” As a result of this teaching, the slave-boxer never lost a match anywhere in Greece. He was soon able to buy his own freedom, and after several years in the ring he retired to the country a rich man.

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Andrew Wilson has been writing ever since he became a real boy. Find him at www.diamondsutrazen.blogspot.com

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2 Responses to “The Life & Sayings of the Sage Zaixos. ~ Andrew Wilson”

  1. John Morrison says:

    Best piece ever posted on Elephant Journal? Je pense que oui.

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