Chuang Tzu and Anger

In the State of Lu there was a man by the name of Wang Tai who had but one foot. He had as many followers as Confucius. Chang Chi asked Confucius, "This Wang Tai is a cripple yet he has as many followers in the state of Lu as you do. When he stands up he does not teach, when he sits down he utters no word. People go to him empty and come back full. Is there such a thing as teaching without words? Can the mind be perfect while the body is deformed? What kind of man is he?"

Confucius said, "This man is a sage, it is just that I have been a little slow in going to see him. I myself am going to make him my teacher. Why shouldn't all of you who are my disciples do the same? I shall bring the whole world, not just the state of Lu, to sit at his feet."

Chang Chi said, "He is a cripple yet he can be your teacher; he must be quite an extraordinary man. What is unique about the way he uses his mind?"

Confucius said, "Death and life are important, but they do not affect him. Heaven and Earth may collapse, yet he remains unmoved. He perceives that true reality in not affected by external appearances, he lets things change naturally and so he holds fast to the roots."

Chang Chi said, "What do you mean?"

Confucius said, "If we observe things from the point of view of their differences, life and gall as unlike one another as the state of Chu in the West and the state of Hueh in the East. If we see that which is the same in all things, then the ten thousand things are one. He who sees things in this light is not distracted by what reaches him through his ears and his eyes, but lets his mind follow the natural harmony. He sees all things as one, and is not troubled by loss. To him the loss of his foot is just like throwing away so much dirt."

Chuang Tzu, Inner Chapters, page 93.


Please continue doing zazen just as you are, but give some attention to these words. I would like to bid you good morning and welcome to the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago; it is February 8th, Sunday morning, 2004. In fact this is Parinirvana Day, the day that we honor and remember the passing of Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. This is the anniversary of the day that the Buddha let go of his body, and entered Nirvana for the last time.

In Buddhism we are repeatedly admonished to avoid The Three Poisons: "Do not indulge in greed; do not indulge in anger; do not indulge in ignorance." These three are probably the closest thing we have to Sin in Buddhism. And they are poisons because they are with us constantly, and they are the most dangerous to our practice, to our expression of enlightenment. We are admonished repeatedly because they are so difficult to avoid, because of our attachments to our egos and our ideas, to words and ... to life (chuckling).

Yesterday morning I found myself getting extremely angry. It was a cumulative effect, I wound up actually blowing up and screaming at someone who had pulled their car directly in from of my Taxi-cab, at the train station, in the cab-stand, and proceeded to unload passengers and baggage, preventing me from leaving. This was, I thought, an infringement upon my ability to earn a living. The person was just being stupid because there is sign right there saying No Parking, Taxis only. But the reason that I got angry was because I was still hanging on to my feelings and attachments to the other half-dozen or so people had come close to hitting me or running me off the road because they weren't paying attention to what they were doing. At times like this it is so difficult to remember and recognize that we are all the same; all sentient beings are identical under the skin. Expressing anger towards another person is being angry with one's self, and sending huge amounts of negative energy into the cosmos. Human beings are microcosms. When we vent this angry energy, this negative energy into the macrocosm, it disrupts all harmony, all Ki. It messes us up as much as it does anyone else. It creates bad karma; it creates waves of energy that go on forever.

We who understand the Dharma and spend our lives in practicing enlightenment, we must be compassionate towards those who are ignorant of Dharma practice, because next time it could be one of us who is absent mindedly getting in the way. As soon as I realized what I was doing, I tried to think of someway -- not only to stop doing it, but to remind myself that this happens all the time, and there's got to be some way to remember at a moments that my indulgence in anger causes bad things to happen everywhere, not only to myself. (The repercussions of unleashing negative energy, the Karma, go on forever.) And just this morning, I was looking at our Taoist calendar; I saw something that made me realize that it is possible to remain in tune with the great Buddha-mind, to keep that ego under control.

There is a calendar here with quotes from Taoist masters, Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu. Anyway, this is what I saw that made me realize that I do have control over myself and there is a fundamental necessity to maintain that control.

"Confucius said, 'If we observe things from the point of view of their differences, life and gall are as unlike one another as the state of Chu in the West and the state of Hueh in the East. If we see that which is the same in all things, then the ten thousand things are one. He who sees things in this light is not distracted by what reaches him through his ears and his eyes, but lets his mind follow the natural harmony. He sees all things as one, and is not troubles by loss. To him....'" Speaking here of a particular person, "'To him the loss of his foot is just like throwing away so much dirt.'"

"To see the things that are alike rather than to see things by their differences." This is the phrase, the terminology that really struck home. By zazen (meditation) we get in touch with the greater mind, we tend to diminish our egotistical attachment to things. And we realize that -- within us, which is the same in all others. And we must develop a daily practice, which allows us to maintain this awareness as much as possible. That is why we avoid indulgence in the three poisons. Like "Deadly Sins," the three poisons kill the spirit, and make it impossible to energetically pursue the Truth (Dharma).

Please continue zazen.