Sunday, August 24, 2014

Not Zen 124: Good and Evil

"I've heard that you teach an understanding that goes beyond good and evil," said a visitor to the meditation class.  "So you ignore morality altogether.  You teach novices this powerful way of life even if they are cruel.  I hope you'll say it isn't true.  Why should evil people benefit from your instruction?"

The meditation teacher stood and rapped this visitor on the head.  The visitor was not hurt but he covered his head, shocked by the blow.  He rose to his feet.  As he turned to leave, the students pleaded with him to stay.  They tried to explain that this was a traditional way of unasking a wrong question.

"Why are you preoccupied with good and evil?" the teacher asked him.  "Maybe you should stay.  You should listen and learn what you can."

But the visitor was in no mood to learn.  After the first meditation session, he approached other students about preventing evil people from attending the class.  After the next session, he asked others about sins they may have committed.  After the last session, he asked about past actions that students had regretted.

The visitor returned to the next week's session.  He didn't approach the teacher.  Instead, he whispered to other students about the power of meditation.  It was a gift, he said, and should not be given to the violent or the criminally minded.  The teacher endured hearing this during the breaks.  But before the last meditation session, he announced that he would give a lecture.

"I hear students worrying,” he allowed with a nod.  “I know some of you fear that evil people will learn of our practice and gain power from it.  I find it necessary to dispel this fear.

"First, I ask, 'What is an evil person?'  Is he one who sees to kill his brother or rob him?  If so, why would this person seek to understand the way of all things, the flow of life, the illusion of the self, the immediacy of animal love in every breath?  Such an understanding would only get in the way of  murder.

"Secondly, I say, 'What good is it to call a person evil?'  Would you not stop a good person from committing an evil act?  If you saw a bad person doing a good deed, would you stop him?

"Knowing justice from injustice is a easy thing.  Children know it.  So there is no need to teach it here.  Our meditations do not ignore morality but our studies do not focus on it.  When I became the group leader, I assumed you at least had the understanding of children."

With this, the teacher hit himself on the head.

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