I love stories. Especially Zen Stories.
Because Zen stories contain wisdom, but they are also mysterious. Whenever I read a story I don’t understand at first hand, it awakens my curiosity and invites me to go deeper within to find its meaning. It’s a joyful process, especially when I “get” it :-).
Throughout the years, I’ve also realized that each of us can understand a story differently, dependent on where we are on our journey of spiritually awakening. Instead of trying to figuring out the message, the hidden wisdom behind a story, I’ve learned to let it go, and allow it to come back to me when the timing is ripe.
In this post, I would like to share with you the following story:
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.”
The story is about the student’s temper, but it could be any emotions that are not part of our true nature. It inspires me to reflect upon two main questions:
- What is our true nature?
- If temper (or any other negative emotion) is not part of our nature, how come it’s difficult for us to “cure” it, to let it go?
The answer to the first question cannot be found in words, only through our own realization. It’s a feeling, a knowing, a wisdom that is eternal.
The answer to the second question is easier to find, but it’s also difficult to practice. Seeing through the light of Buddhism, everything that manifests in our external world has its seed in our internal realm.
When we feel anger, anxiety, or rage, they can only be expressed because the right condition for their manifestation exists. Just like the fact that a flower cannot bloom if it hasn’t been nurtured with the right amount of water, sunlight and soil.
Ask yourself this question:
In what way are you nurturing the condition for the negative emotions that habitually manifest through you?
The question helps us to become more conscious and aware and Self-knowing is the key to spiritual liberation.