‘Elder Ting asked Lin-chi: “Master, what is the great meaning of Buddha’s teachings?”

Lin-chi came down from his seat, slapped Ting and pushed him away.

Ting was stunned and stood motionless.

A monk nearby said, “Elder Ting, why not bow?”

He bowed. Suddenly, he was greatly awakened.’

~ Blue Cliff Record, Case 32

In the movie Animal House, Kevin Bacon, in an initiation rite to enter the evil Omega fraternity, asked for several hard spanks of a paddle on his nearly-bare bottom: ‘Thank you sir, may I have another?’ He was desperately seeking permission to join the brotherhood. Are we any different?


It seems we are always seeking permission for something: permission to join, permission to be liked by others, permission to be free, permission to be happy. The funny thing is, we don’t really need to be held back by others, we usually withhold permission from ourselves. We just like to blame everyone else.

Elder Ting, above, needed permission to bow. And yet, when he did bow, he found that from the beginning, he needed no one’s approval. He found great freedom. Bowing or not, shouting or not, how can we possibly separate them? Isn’t it almost silly to ask someone else, as if selling water by the river, for something we already have in greatest abundance?

It is not a crazy thing to give ourselves permission to be enlightened. What a great treat ~ better than chocolate ~ to allow ourselves! Even without really knowing what it means, how about allowing ourselves to recognize the vastness of the universe in our lives? But to do that requires one thing: trust in ourselves. We must trust that, just as we are, with all apparent warts and blemishes, we are a whole and perfect package. Thank you sir, may I have another! Of course, and much more!