How many of us are absolutely sure that we approve the thoughts that arise in our minds?
And if we are aware that we do not approve them, what steps, what actions can we take to teach or guide or discipline ourselves into being indifferent to these unapproved thoughts of ours?
Being indifferent is the second sincere step, counting as a first step being aware of these thoughts.
Because there is a place in us that still approves them!
Even if they are malicious, like envying someone else, or self destructive like undermining the consequences of our words or actions, there is a part in us that gives them permission.
Think about that some seconds….
Getting to know ourselves, we have a good chance to become more peaceful, more responsible, more human, towards our True Nature of our Mind.
The following stories, if you choose to put your attention to understand them, will have a unique effect to each one of you.
These stories come from the Zen tradition, a Buddhist based spirituality that uses a method of surprising the conditional mind, pointing towards the True Nature of Mind.
See for yourself the effect they have…
The Voice of Happiness
After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master’s temple told a friend:
Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice.
Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy.
When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another, I hear pleasure and satisfaction, as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.
In all my experience, however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere.
Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.
How sincere are we, when we express happiness or sorrow to another person?
How do we desire, dream, fantasise to be happy ourselves when we have not really practiced our ear, to notice the secret tones of self envy that our thoughts contain?
Right and Wrong
When Bankei held his seclusion-weeks of meditation, pupils from many parts of Japan came to attend. During one of these gatherings a pupil was caught stealing.
The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the culprit be expelled.
Bankei ignored the case.
Later the pupil was caught in a similar act, and again Bankei disregarded the matter.
This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition asking for the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would leave in a body.
When Bankei had read the petition he called everyone before him.
“You are wise brothers,” he told them.
“You know what is right and what is not right.
You may go somewhere else to study if you wish, but this poor brother does not even know right from wrong.
Who will teach him if I do not?
I am going to keep him here even if all the rest of you leave.”
A torrent of tears cleansed the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.
How many times we forget to remember that a friend or a spouse or a sibling might not really know right from wrong?
Do we sincerely inquire whether our thoughts, our actions, our words are rightful to ourselves or others?
A Zen student came to Bankei and complained:
“Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?”
“You have something very strange,” replied Bankei. “Let me see what you have.”
“Just now I cannot show it to you,” replied the other.
“When can you show it to me?” asked Bankei.
“It arises unexpectedly,” replied the student.
“Then,” concluded Bankei,
“It must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you. Think that over.”
Think that over and over and see what arises….