Monday, November 28, 2011

Peaceful Means May Not Always Be Appropriate

Have you heard of the extreme of peace? It is referring to the performance of non-violence in inappropriate situations. There may be circumstances in life whereby you need to take immediate action, even if it is a little violent, in order to have the correct response to the situation. It is not always appropriate to adopt non-violent way. In fact certain actions such as fasting till death can be tantamount to be misuse of peace. Just like anger, Zen Master Dae Bong explained that once Zen Master Seung Sahn explained that using anger in the proper way can be very compassionate. He called it "BIG LOVE" anger. He gave a situation whereby a mother would actually need to shout at her child and pull him away immediately from a boiling kettle that he was going to touch. Even though it can be a little violent, it was appropriate for the situation and it was an expression of love and compassion. Peaceful means, such as negotiation, will have been inappropriate in this situation. By the time you have finished talking, the child would have touched the hot kettle and would have got burnt. But "BIG LOVE" anger does not perpetuate. After pulling the child away, the anger subsides and you can see the mother hugging the child. She may scold the child a little but that's it. That's "BIG LOVE" anger. But if she lets her anger perpetuates inside her and keep on scolding the child the whole day after that, then it turns into "ATTACHMENT" anger. See how it changes?

That's why Master Seung Sahn is not so fixated by "ahimsa" or "non-violent" ways, instead he advices that we should have the correct action/function and the correct relationship to the correct situation. In more common words, it is doing the right thing at the right time and the right place. If the correct situation calls that we need to fight, we fight. You get what the master means? If hungry, eat. If tired, rest. That's what zen masters always say. Doing the right things, at the right time and place. That's Zen. That's also Mahamudra. The masters always remind us it's nothing more special than that. I remember Master Hsuan Hua used to say, "There is no fixed dharma. If the dharma is fixed, then it is a dead dharma". A fixed "right view" is a dead view. It is a one size fits all approach. But we know that one size does not fit all. Responding to situations in life is also the same. We cannot apply the same approach in all situations. Peaceful means can be applied in most situations, but not all unfortunately. And if peaceful means fail, we may need to resort to other means. It's is terrible but sometimes that is the facts of life. On a smaller scale, in the working life, sometimes situations may warrant that we be a little aggressive in the way we deal with some colleagues. This is not to bully others, but to prevent others from bullying us. So, sometimes we need to show a tougher self. But we should never act in violent ways if it is inappropriate. If it is an expression of attachment anger, then already you have the wrong attitude and can only result in more bad karma. And more suffering.    

So, I leave you with this thought. Does it make sense?

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