Sunday, January 10, 2010

Living Non Judgementally

There is something in the dynamic of living that does not fit with our ways of going about judging everything; nice, ugly, good, bad, right, wrong, acceptable, unacceptable and so on. Consider the following Zen story:

Zenkai, the son of a samurai, journeyed to Edo and there became the retainer of a high official. He fell in love with the official's wife and was discovered. In self-defense, he slew the official. Then he ran away with the wife. Both of them later became thieves. But the woman was so greedy that Zenkai grew disgusted. Finally, leaving her, he journeyed far away to the province of Buzen, where he became a wandering mendicant. To atone for his past, Zenkai resolved to accomplish some good deed in his lifetime. Knowing of a dangerous road over a cliff that had caused death and injury to many persons, he resolved to cut a tunnel through the mountain there. Begging food in the daytime, Zenkai worked at night digging his tunnel. When thirty years had gone by, the tunnel was 2,280 feet long, 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide. Two years before the work was completed, the son of the official he had slain, who was a skillful swordsman, found Zenkai out and came to kill him in revenge. "I will gived you my life willingly," said Zenkai. "Only let me finish this work. On the day it is completed, then you may kill me." So the son awaited the day. Several months passed and Zenkai kept digging. The son grew tired of doing nothing and began to help with the digging. After he had helped for more than a year, he came to admire Zenkai's strong will and character. At last the tunnel was completed and the people could use it and travel safely. "Now cut off my head," said Zenkai. "My work is done." "How can I cut off my own teacher's head?" asked the younger man with tears in his eyes.

If Zenkai did not have an affair with the woman he would not have killed his benefactor and if he had not killed his benefactor he would not have dug the tunnel that would save many people's lives and if the son of the benefactor was not driven by hate and desire for revenge (which is conventionally considered bad) to seek the where about of Zenkai he would not have had the opportunity to find a good teacher.

Haven't we often ourselves experienced how what we thought was bad turned out to be good eventually and how what we thought was good became bad in the end. In fact if we did not stop at any point and considered it as the final point in the unfolding of the process of happenings we would have found many bad and many good things at various stopping points. What does this mean? It means that our way of judging what is happening is not in harmony with 'what is' or reality.

Happenings are happenings. They are neither this nor that. Only when being interpreted by the judging mind do they acquire the attributes of good and bad. (The mind is constantly translating or interpreting reality into concepts and sticking labels or words on them in order to handle them easily and quickly by thoughts. This is fine and immensely useful for practical living such as when you want to buy clothes, cock a meal or plan a trip abroad but could be a source of great suffering when applied to our psychological life and relationships with others.)

The only thing that can be said about a happening for the sake of communication is that it is apparently bad or apparently good. In truth every happening is the result of the confluence of many factors that are in transition.

It is really unskillful to comfort someone by saying that may be the bad thing that has happened to him or to her will turn out in the end to be of greater good because by the same logic this greater good might evolve to even greater bad.

One must be watchful and sensitive to our usual way of living by judging. Things and events are only apparently so and so to the mind which is conditioned and in bondage to its past and not to awareness or direct experiencing which is in tune with life and flows with it without friction.

Next time you find yourself angry or sad or positively excited about something or a happening know that the emotion arose in response to a judgment of bad or good and remember silently that, "it is only apparently bad or apparently good" and experience the present moment non judgmentally as it is. In this way you will come to know the natural way of living which is equanimity and peace.

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