Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Taste of Freedom

If Fate is stingy with me and thus affects my fortune,
I make my virtue ample, and greet my fortune in this way.
If Fate sends toil and thus affects my body,
I put my mind at peace and assist myself in this way.
If Fate brings obstructions and this affects my circumstances,
I make my Way and pass along with ease.
More than this, what can Fate do to me?

--- Hung Ying-ming, The Unencumbered Spirit trans. By William Scott Williams

Hung Ying-ming was a follower of the three great traditions of China: Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. It strikes me when I read certain ancient Chinese sages at how easily their minds allow many worlds to exist at the same time.

Now, when I look around, I see Tao vs. Zen, Mahayana vs. Theravada, formal practice v. informal practice, me vs. you, True Zen vs. Your Zen. It is no surprise; this existed in ancient China as well. There is something very human about making these distinctions, and then looking down at all other angles.

I remember talking to a Christian once about judgment. He was going on about how all other Christians were wrong about this, wrong about that. I pointed out that Jesus said: Judge not, lest you be judged. His response: my judgment is right. I’m judging by the rule of God.

So it goes with all things. Zen teachings tell us not to cling and crave, and off we go, clinging and craving in the name of Zen. Buddha told us not to crave, but what I do is not clinging and craving. What you do is craving. Of course, this is simply spiritual inversion.

I see the true taste of Tao and Zen as the taste of freedom. This is summarized nicely in the above quote. No matter what comes, there is a proper response. When one meets the world with the proper response, then there is always freedom. If one practices in the way suggested by Hung Ying-ming, then what can ever stop you?

Discrimination, clinging, craving--- these are fetters that bind us all. They create a prison of thoughts and feeling, a prison that can only exist within us. Is the bark of a dog a Zen bark, a Tao bark, or a Christian bark? If the tree in the courtyard my tree or your tree? It seems ridiculous when put in this way. These things only exist in human minds. In fact, this is the very thing the sages warn us about.

The question for me is not whether a teaching or a practice is true, correct, or right--- these are illusion of the mind. The question is more properly: do these lead to freedom?

1 comment: