The king in Dharma is the most superior;
The realization that countless Tathagatas are all alike.
Now I show you this all-giving pearl;
Believers are all in accord (with Dharma).
The Ch’an tradition, however, has stories which seem to contradict what I have just said. There is the story I previously related about two monks: one practiced diligently while the other slept all day. The first monk reprimanded the sleeping monk, “You should work harder. What’s happened to your practice?”
In reply, the second monk said, “I sleep. What other kind of practice would you have me do?”
You probably also remember the story where Master Pai-chang praised Huang-po, who was asleep in the Ch’an Hall, and scolded another monk, who seemed to be practicing vigorously.
The Sixth Patriarch, too, once said, “When neither hatred nor love disturbs the mind, you can stretch out your legs and rest.”
These anecdotes may seem to suggest that Ch’an practitioners do not have to continue their practice after enlightenment, but that is not the case. These special examples describe highly realized practitioners who have a firm understanding of Buddhadharma. They see the Buddha path clearly, and they proceed steadily. They have no doubts or confusion. Nobody or nothing can steer them off the path or cause their determination to slacken. On the other hand, a practitioner who is not sure what he is doing and is not clear where he is going still needs to practice in the usual fashion.
A fly trying to get out of a house buzzes around and bumps into windows and screens. It is active, but it does not get anywhere. It is similar to the practice of the unenlightened. Deeply enlightened practitioners seem relaxed, even lazy, but they are actually working smoothly and steadily.
Do not feel sorry for the fly. Compared to someone who knows where the door is, the fly looks stupid, but at least it is making an effort to get out. Usually, people are not even as determined as this fly. Sooner or later, it will find an exit. The fly knows that it wants to get out, and it has faith that there is an exit. All it has to do is work hard. Do you have faith in yourself and the method? Are you working hard? Right now during this retreat, you may be like the fly, but after the retreat, will you still put effort into your practice? Probably, as you sit down in the evening to meditate, a friend will call and say, “Let’s go out.” You will go to Radio City Music Hall and meditate on the Rockettes instead of working on your method.
— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 223-224)