(…continued from ‘A spiritual man has peace’)
“If one is fully determined he can defeat fate. If the will is one pointed the cosmic energy moves for him.” This is the Taoist phrase which comes nearest to the idea of the divine finger in things, the cosmic energy. “If a man is fully determined he can defeat fate. If the will is one pointed the cosmic energy moves for him.”
“Ambitious men think they use the world, in fact they are used by the world. The noble one is not clay to be moulded by some potter.” Officials used to claim to be able to shape their subordinates and this is one of the sentences: “The noble one is not clay to be moulded by some potter. This goes back to Confucius, though the author’s Taoist, [it’s] the same idea. Confucius said, “The superior man is not a tool to be used by someone else.” They can’t just be used. If a thing is wrong he’ll say “No”. He can’t be just an instrument.
“In your heart, stand one step above the world lest your robe trail in the mire and your feet be washed with the mud. But in your outer life keep one step behind the world lest you be a moth on a flame, or a ram caught in a thicket.”
“When you make up your mind to learn the way, devote yourself to it, don’t scatter your energies in attachment to arts and accomplishments, however refined. If you are completely caught up in poetry or music you will never have peace of mind and deep concentration on your goal.”
“A man becomes a monk because he’s impressed at the freedom of the young monks he sees walking in the street, carefree without responsibilities.”
The monk has nothing. He owns nothing and they walk down the street, even in the pouring rain. Everybody’s huddling. He walks down the middle of the street; his robe is clean but it’s very poor, very cheap material, black material. He knows he’ll get wet – you do get sopping wet hanging in the eaves – [but] he just walks down. “A man becomes a monk because he’s impressed at the freedom of the young monks he sees walking in the street, carefree without responsibilities.”
Another man becomes a monk because when he’s been to the temple for worship, he’s experienced peace there. Another man becomes a monk because he’s impressed with the contribution they make to society by their strict morality and their outer wise behaviour. All these three men will be disappointed. The first one who becomes a monk because he’s impressed at the freedom of the young monks walking in the street, carefree without responsibilities, the first man won’t be able to endure the harsh life – not carefree at all.
The second one who’s been to the temple for worship and experienced peace there, the second one will find that the Abbott is always nagging and more worldly than the worldly. The third one who becomes a monk because he’s impressed with the contribution they make to society by their strict morality and their outer wise behaviour, the third one finds that they only keep the rules outwardly. They don’t respect the Buddha or the Dharma inwardly.
These three, even if they do stay and solve two or three of the Koan riddles, then they can’t help showing their pride and their contempt for outsiders who haven’t done that, and the outsiders hate them in return. So they end up more disturbed in mind than when they were in lay life, so the number of those going into the temples is decreasing.
“These people are like youngsters who sees actors gorgeously dressed, dancing on the brightly lit stage and want to go in to the theatre. It’s not Zen Buddhism or the stage alone. From outside everything looks fine to become a successful businessman or a soldier or a politician or a scholar. People are attracted to the outer image and they think they can just walk on to the stage, as it were, and be a strutting star. In this way they waste their lives”.
“Logic is necessary in all branches of learning, but a clear head doesn’t need to keep applying logic where it’s not needed. A man with a clear head can do things and make things and say things without constantly applying logic. To use logic alone fatigues the brain so that sometimes he can’t even apply his logic sensibly.”
For instance, we can see an example of one of the great apostles of the West of living logically was Bertrand Russell. He wrote a book on education in which he said children want to learn naturally. You don’t need compulsion; give them the facilities to learn. No need for syllabuses and so on, but they’ll learn; children are naturally curious. Well, he founded a school, but he soon discovered that, he said, he spent all his time stopping the big ones from hitting the little ones. He quoted one of the boys. A middle boy said to him, “The big ones hit me so I hit the little ones. That’s fair isn’t it?”
Russell in his book, this is before he founded the school, Russell in his book said, “I shall not discuss what to do if in a class there are pupils who are persistently disruptive, not only of their own work but of the work and study of others. I shall not discuss this because under a proper education system it would never happen.”
That’s an example of applying logic in a pretty stupid way because it’s perfectly apparent that however popular your educational system was you might get children who come from abroad under a less good educational system. They would be disruptive, so you need to discuss what to do with disruptive children in your class. Russell simply doesn’t know what to say and he avoids the point by saying under a proper system it would never arise.
© Trevor Leggett
(continued in ‘Even a small kindness is a great blessing’)
Titles in this series are: