Violence .. our friend?

Violence is, well, violent... but can we see a way to transform even horrible evil into a path towards compassion? Violence is best to be avoided, but if it is there... we must work with what we got... How will our work proceed? More violence? Nah, thats sucks. Deep inside your heart, you know what to do. Love.

Violence is, well, violent… but can we see a way to transform even horrible evil into a path towards compassion? Violence is best to be avoided, but if it is there… we must work with what we got… How will our work proceed? More violence? Nah, that sucks. Deep inside your heart, you know what to do. Love.

Bodhidharma sits and sits year after year, alone in a cave. Some children, throw rocks at him and one lands right on his head.

BAM. He awakens and the whole Earth resonates.

So, these children…. what karma is birthed from their action? Hitting people with rocks in their heads is not good action. However, Bodhidharma’s enlightenment was dependent on it.

All buddhas realize enlightenment through circumstances. Some circumstances can be self-generated, such as the decision to sit in meditation, but most are not….

When sitting in meditation, do we get upset at the sounds of cars honking their horns, or of people shouting outside? Do we feel it is disturbing our focus and our progress?

If so, take that thought, of feeling disturbed and focus on it. Does a buddha try to block out all outside circumstances?

Are there even outside circumstances? Did you not plan with the Universe from the beginning of time to have those car horns blare into your ears? Of course you did! Embrace and be grateful for this wonderful car-horn teaching! Nothing is better.

So, these children who hit Bodhidharma in the head with a rock….. Their intentions were selfish and mean, but the outcome was the bringing of Ch’an to China and then Zen to Japan. So, a bad intention and a bad action yielded a flourishing of compassion.

What can this teach us? That all things, good or bad, or even evil, can be our teachers, and can feed compassion and make it grow. So, all our enemies can be our best of friends.

If it wasn’t Bodhidharma in that cave, but someone else who was not compassionate. the result could have been totally different. It is possible that the person could have been a murderer on the run, and when he got hit in the head, all bloodied and concussed, he could have turned and ran after the children and killed them.

What would be the karmic footprint then? Would the children have ‘lost’ the good karma of facilitating the enlightenment of a person and ‘gained’ the bad karma of facilitating their own murders?

All karma’s are interwoven and we all are playing on the same team. Team Universe! So, if someone hits us in the head with a rock, do we allow the inherent rage to consume us or can we learn to see the action for what it truly is. I am not saying we should not defend ourselves from physical violence, but so very often we can turn violence into a double compassionate act with how we react… If we let the violence be our teacher, we will see deeper into the true nature of ourselves and the Universe and we also help generate positive karma for our attacker… after all, we are all in this together, we are all teammates.

Oxherding IV & V Catching and Herding the Ox

Attributed to Shubun. Photo taken from Zen Ink Paintings by Barnet and Burto

When we surround our inherent Enlightened nature with our entire being, we have captured the Ox. Our Ox is still a wild being and we do not yet fully understand how to contain him. Catching the Ox can be tricky, and we may struggle to keep him under our control. Our concepts of Enlightenment start to fade at this stage, as we are now face to face with our Ox. His pure eyes are wild but their depth falls forever into our hearts. Each time we gaze into his eyes, we are stunned by their beauty, their complexity within utter stillness and simplicity. We try to comprehend this paradox, and when we do, our eyes’ gaze follows our thinking mind and the Ox kicks and bucks and tries to escape.

Attributed to Shubun. Photo taken from Zen Ink Paintings by Barnet and Burto

After we finally have our rope around the Ox and our grip is secure, so secure that our arm will be ripped off and given to Bodhidharma* should the Ox escape, we can then start to tame the Ox. Herding our Ox involves great discipline, and we learn how to react when our Ox misbehaves. It is really ourselves who do not behave properly and our Ox reminds us of this. Our discipline and faith allow us to keep our eyes always fixed onto our Ox’s eyes. We realize we are the same being, and this explodes into such love and compassion that Our Ox needs no rope to hold him anymore.

*a student studying under the first Ch’an (Zen) master in China, Bodhidharma, offered his arm to him to be shown Enlightenment. This shows the student’s commitment and understanding how important realizing our Enlightened nature truly is. This story might appear in a future post to give it proper context and explanation.