A famous story about a Zen nun is: She had a beautiful golden Buddha, a very artistic, aesthetic statue of Buddha, made of pure gold. And the nun used to carry the Buddha wherever she would go. Buddhist monks and nuns have to go on moving for eight months in the year, except the four months of rain. So from one temple, from one monastery to another….
She was staying in one of the temples of China — she had gone to travel to Chinese temples and monasteries and that temple has ten thousand statues of Buddha. It is a unique temple in the whole world. Ten thousand statues… almost the whole mountain has been cut into statues and made into a temple; perhaps it has taken centuries to build it. She was staying there.
And this had been her constant worry: Every morning when she worships her golden Buddha, she puts flowers, sweets, burns incense — but you cannot depend upon the wind, upon the breeze. The fragrance arising out of the burning incense may not reach the golden Buddha’s nose, it may move in any direction.
In that temple there were ten thousand other Buddhas, and the fragrance was going to other Buddhas’ noses. And this was intolerable; this was too much. She was feeling very hurt, that her own poor Buddha is not getting any incense, and all these vagabonds…”And my Buddha is golden and they are just stones. And after all my Buddha is MY Buddha.”
This is how the mind functions: it is so possessive, it cannot even see that they are all statues of the same man. Which nose is getting the incense does not matter — it is reaching the Buddha. But “MY Buddha” — the old possessive mind continues.
So she devised a small method: she brought a bamboo, a hollow bamboo, and cut it into a small piece. She will burn the incense, and put the bamboo on top of it. One side will take the incense smoke in, and the other side she will put on the nose of her golden Buddha — almost like making him smoke! But that created a problem: her Buddha’s nose became black. That disturbed her even more.
She asked the high priest of the temple, “What should I do? My poor Buddha’s nose has become black.”
He said, “But how did it happen?”
She said, “I feel very embarrassed to say, it is my own doing.” And then she explained the whole thing.
The priest laughed.
He said, “All these are Buddhas here. One Buddha, ten thousand Buddhas — to whom it reaches does not matter. You should not be so miserly, so possessive. Buddha cannot be yours and cannot be mine. The nose of the Buddha has become black because of your possessiveness.”
And the priest said to her, “We are making each others’ faces black because of our possessiveness. If we could give without even thinking to whom it reaches…. Because to whomever it reaches, is part of the same existence as we are part of — it reaches to us.
Story told by Osho