I’ll tell you a true story. Tientung Monastery at Ywewang in China was a large monastic complex that could accomodate five thousand monks in residence. Every winter there was a Chan session. In the winter they meditated and in the summer they studied, listening to lectures on Sutras and Dharma talks. It was called investigating in the winter and studying in the summer. Applying their skill in meditation helped keep them warm during the cold winter months. Using their skill, they turned on their own heaters to fight off the cold. And so they didn’t fear the cold. The colder it was, the more invigorated they felt. When the weather is cold, you, too, can turn on your heaters by investigating Chan. Not only will you not be cold, you'll perspire! That's when meditation is at its best. During the hot season, it's really easy to fall asleep. But when it's cold, if you doze off, the cold will wake you up. It's not as easy to fall asleep. That's why those who cultivate are not afraid of the cold.
Back then during the winter meditation sessions, no one ate after noon. That means in the morning they had rice gruel; but at night they did not eat anything. Their main meal was at noon. That is called not eating after noon.But the people applying their effort in meditation would feel hungry because they took nothing to eat in the evening. Their hunger caused them false thinking and made them feel very uncomfortable. When people get hungry they starting thinking things like,“Ah! What can I steal to eat? I could swipe a vegetarian roll, but they are locked in the pantry. I could steal some rice, but it's also put away in the pantry. No way to steal anything.”
At that time the Dharma Master who was Leader of the Assembly had spiritual penetrations. When he observed that everyone was so hungry they were having false thinking about stealing things, he gallantly went off to the pantry to get some rice crispy. Rice crispy, alternately known as “scorched rice in the south and crunchies” in the north, is the browned layer of rice that sticks to the pot.
With several thousand people residing in the monastic complex, the amount of rice crispy scraped from the pots each day was considerable, and of course it was not to be wasted. It was never just dumped in the garbage and halled away. It was saved and put back in the pot to recook with the next day's rice. Otherwise the waste would have been incredible, given the number of residents. Well, the rice crispy was kept in the pantry and the Leader of the Assembly used his spiritual penetrations to go into the pantry and take a huge portion of it. Then he placed a piece of it in front of each meditator. When the bell was rung to end the meditation period, everyone saw that he had been given some rice crispy. Quickly they slipped it into their mouths and everyone sat there eating stealthily. Here, we steal jinseng. We have so much, you say? Well, whoever has spiritual penetrations can display they and go into the pantry to steal some. But don't lock the door, because with the amount of spiritual penetrations you have, you'll never get in!
Everyone ate the rice crispy and afterwards felt invigorated. The Leader of the Assembly kept stealing it--a little today, some more tomorrow, again the next day--for so many days until eventually all the rice crispy in the pantry had disappeared. The rice cook asked the head of the pantry, “Where's the rice crispy?”The head of the pantry answered, “Didn't you cook it?”“No, I didn't!”“You didn't? Then, where did it go?” “How should I know!”The head of the pantry said, Well, that won't do.We'd better report to the Abbot.”So they went to see the Abbot, whose name was Mizu, and who also had spiritual penetrations. The head of the pantry reported:“We can't figure out why the rice crispy in the pantry has disappeared.Mizu replied, How can it disappear? It must be gone because you cooked and ate it.” He replied,“No, the rice cook didn't cook it, but it’s also not in the pantry. Mizu replied, Maybe the mice ate it. All right. Drop it.”When Mizu looked into it, he found: “ Aha! Leader of the Assembly, you are taking it. You are breaking the precepts by stealing it. Very well...And so that day Mizu himself went down to the hall to meditate. Once again the Leader of the Assembly went to the pantry to steal things. That is, his spirit went; his body remained sitting on the meditation bench.
What were his spiritual penetrations like? He could take things away with him, just by having the thought to do so. And so Mizu did the same with the Leader of the Assembly's body. He placed it under the meditation bench while sitting there in meditation. When the Leader of the Assembly who stole things returned, he saw that his body was no longer sitting on the bench. He searched around and found it under the bench. Then he had to crawl out from under the bench. As he was crawling out, the Abbot said, What are you doing? What have you stolen from the pantry? You've already removed all the rice crispy from the pantry and you still go back there to steal thing! I'm kicking you out. You can't live here any longer. The Leader of the Assembly said, Fine. You can kick me out, but the monks in this assembly are terribly hungry. If I am to go, will you promise to give everyone a little something to eat each evening? Mizu replied, Go! It's none of your business! Get out! I'm kicking you out!“Well, if you won't promise to give them something to eat, I won't go! “Very well, I'll do it! Mizu told the Leader of the Assembly, After you leave, I'll give everyone two hot rolls to eat.”And from then on, every evening everyone got two hot rolls filled with vegetables.
Well, the Leader of the Assembly left, using his spiritual penetrations to go from Tiantung to Nanqing. When he got to Nanqing, originally his plan was to get to Gueiyuan Monastery by lunchtime. But once in Nanqing, he noticed some excitement and found that a play was going on, so he stayed in Nanqing to watch the play. When it was over, he used his spiritual powers to go to Gueiyuan Monastery in Hanko. However, the Abbot of Gueiyuan Monastery also had spiritual penetrations, and so he said, Later today a monk is going to come here, hoping to eat lunch. And so today we will eat first and then strike the bong. The bong was a piece of wood carved in the shape of a fish, which, when struck went“Bong! Bong! Bong!”Why eat first and then strike the bong? It was because the Abbot, knowing that the Leader of the Assembly had stopped to watch a play in Nanqing, thought, Fine! Since you like to watch plays, I'm not going to give you any lunch.”
The Leader of the Assembly finished watching the play and then went to Hanko. Reaching Hanko, he heard the sound of the bong and made his way to the dining hall for lunch. But since everyone had eaten before hitting the bong, lunch was already over. Why aren't you eating?”he asked. What! You've finished? You people don't follow the rules here. You're supposed to hit the bong and then eat. Right, said the Abbot, But who told you to watch a play? The Leader of the Assembly couldn't think of any reply to that, and so he left. From there he went to Szchuan. Actually, it's a very long way from Hanko to Szchuan, but he got there very quickly by using his spiritual penetrations. He sat down to meditation beneath a pair of cinnamon trees. Later a very famous monastery named Twin Cinnamon Hall”sas established there.