Parables are related to Zen koans, as are all teaching stories.
Love lives in stories that are told from the energy of that same love. It is love that enlightens and not the mind. The mind ponders on truth, the heart finds it, and hands its answers back to the troubled mind again, and again, and again. This cycle is only broken when the snow or ice of the mind is melted by enough fire or heat of love being allowed to be received by it.
Pa ling was a monk who said this because he understood the way of man to pile up teachings in his mind like piles of snow, and thereby be thereafter buried under these same teachings. The love pierces through thought and establishes a link to itself, that melts the snow and the containing vessel is then seen for what it is, an emptiness of all else, but for love.
“What is the true essence of your Zen teachings?”
Pa Ling replied,
“It is about not piling up snow in your silver bowl.”
An overly talkative person does not yet live from his heart. He is usually talking from this pile of snow or knowledge that he has accumulated within his brain. A person that knows talks from his heart and this is possible only after they have emptied their minds first.
The Zen koans contain symbols or ideas that represent emptiness.
The truth is there, and yet it is not there. It is not there until the mind is dropped, and only then is the real truth is found. The mind is not the self, and even the self is not the self. Nothing exists as the self. It is like the particle and the wave in physics. Both forms are existing interconnected, both are true, at one at the same time.
The truth comes out from the emptiness. All is emptiness. Truth is the truth because it comes from emptiness. Being and nonbeing are both coming from this same energy of emptiness, being given form from love energizing existence into a bowl.
Leave your bowl empty, do not fill it with snow.
All of what has been said here can be seen in that other classic Zen story about the overflowing teacup.
Apparently there was once a Zen master called Nan-in. He was a great Japanese master, living during the Meiji era. The Meiji Period lasted from, 1868 to 1912. The Meiji Restoration, beginning in 1868, restored the full powers of the Japanese emperor. In Shinto, the prevailing religion in Japan, the practitioners worshipped the emperor almost like a living god.
Shinto is the indigenous religion of Japan, and perhaps it is as old as Japan. The government during this Meiji period endorsed this religion and its practices. This same ruling government tried to ban Buddhism. Many of its temples were destroyed. Monks were forced to return to living a normal life.
The story goes that a visiting American college professor visited Nan-in to ask him about Zen, during this time.
Nan-in served him tea.
The great learned foreign professor started talking about his own ideas and philosophy while Nan-in poured his cup of tea for him. Nan-in poured tea into his visitor’s cup until it was full, but then he didn’t stop pouring. He kept on pouring until the tea overflowed the cup and even the saucer, and it then even started to flow across the table, where the cup and saucer had been placed.
All of this time the professor had continued to talk, seemingly oblivious as to what was going on around himself.
But then he stopped talking. He noticed what was happening. He watched the overflowing amber liquid until he could no longer restrain himself any longer. After all, it was starting to run off the end of the table, and some of the hot liquid was arriving into his ample lap, as he sat on the chair across from Nan-in, who was standing up, while he poured. A chair had been provided for the guest.
No wonder he had now stopped talking! Something had reached him at last, cutting through all of his snow, for a moment. Everything happens at the moment, but we need to be really in the moment to notice what is really going on.
“My cup is full,” he said. “No more can possibly go in!”
“Like this cup,” Nan-in softly replied, “you too are full of your own opinions, thoughts, beliefs, and idle speculations. How can I ever show you Zen, unless you empty out your own cup first?”
The mind is full of barrenness, and the seeds of love are scattered everywhere. Nothing is being focussed.
A Zen koan helps to focus on things, allowing a path for love to travel across.
When the mind receives truth, it quietens, and then that person lives from a higher level of consciousness. The mind thereafter then serves that consciousness, rather than only just living for itself. Consciousness is a by-product of love, loving. It arises from love’s energy flowing through a vessel in a similar way as to how a magnetic field is formed around a wire in which electricity is flowing.
We can never reach the higher levels of consciousness then, until we love from our hearts for real, and not from a concept of that love, as being held by our minds. All of the great masters loved deeply and completely like this.