Is That So?


The Zen master, Hakuin, lived in a village next door to a family.  The young, rather attractive girl of the house became pregnant, and her furious parents demanded to know who the father was.  The girl said it was Hakuin.  Her father went next door in a rage and confronted the master, saying, “you have made my daughter pregnant and you will be held accountable for your actions”.  “Is that so?”, replied Hakuin.  The master’s reputation in the village was in tatters, and when the child was born, the girl’s parents took it to him and said, “this is your doing, therefore you will have to be responsible for the child’s upbringing”.  “Is that so?”, replied Hakuin.

Months passed and the master looked after the child with all the tender care of a loving parent.  Eventually, wracked with guilt, the girl confessed that the real father of the child was the young man who worked in the village grocery store.  The horrified and embarrassed parents went back to the master and apologised profusely for what had happened.  “Is that so?”, said Hakuin as he handed over the child.

This little story tells us two things; firstly that reputation is of the ego, it represents the views and opinions that others hold about us.  We can choose to believe those views, but if we do, we run the risk of developing a mind-set about ourselves that is not true and not representative of the light that we really are.  It also illustrates the importance of accepting “what is”.  In life we have a tendency to try to filter out anything that comes along that the mind tells us is not agreeable.  But Zen is about the acceptance of what is, in the knowledge that the world is constantly in motion, that “this too will pass” and “what we resist will persist”.  Hakuin was a Zen master; a realised soul, and he was completely unmoved by the whole sorry business.  He transcended the ego, therefore he was fully functioning in the world without being a part of the world; he remained “the eternal witness” as the drama played itself out.

 

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A Form Of Self-Harm


So, how many of us would grasp a hot coal in our hands? Under normal circumstances nobody would. Why? Because even the slightest touch of a hot coal would burn, but to grasp one and hold it tight! What kind of madness would that be? This being the case, why then do we humans have a habit of torturing ourselves by clinging on to negative emotions and old and stale mind-sets? It’s complete madness, but as a species, this is what we do.

We cause ourselves so much unnecessary pain through our insistence on clinging on to the past for dear life. When our buttons are pushed the mind (ego) pedals a tale of woe based on events from the past. The story triggers a series of negative feelings, which are in turn expressed as negative emotions.

The next time your buttons are pushed try not to go along with the story. Simply be a witness to the thoughts and accept that they are there. Like everything that is of the ego those thoughts are transient; they are just passing through. If you ride with them your mind will expand on the story and you will be falling into the same old trap, which will cause you stress and pain. Even if you are an aggressor when your buttons are pushed, you will ultimately only be hurting yourself.

Every time you become aware of your thoughts in these situations, and every time you just accept them in the knowledge that you are simply a witness and every time you refrain from running with the story you allow a part of the old you, the false-self, to dissolve away. Eventually the false-self will disappear completely. This happens because you are not your thoughts, you are that which is aware of them, and when you connect with this awareness, you are connecting with your true nature. You are actually becoming aware of awareness itself; you are experiencing yourself as the eternal witness.