Saturday, June 23, 2012

Is it so? - Zen way of being cool

Swami Tejomayananda told this story in one of the discourses during Vedanta-2012 camp.

There was a Zen monk. 

Perfect monk. Totally out of this world. On his own. Nothing doing with people or anything else.

One family got so impressed by this monk's wisdom that they became his disciples. They sent him food, water etc. from time to time. They also visited him in his forest retreat occasionally.

There was a girl in that family. She was not particularly religious or anything but with her parents, she also used to  visit the monk.

This girl had an affair with some person in the town. She got pregnant because of her affair. She was not married to that man. She panicked. She and her boyfriend came up with a ploy to  implicate this zen monk as the culprit. The girl ended up delivering a baby.

Family was very upset. They were angry. They asked the girl - who is responsible for this mess? Tell us. Otherwise, we will kill you. In order to save herself and her boyfriend, the girl said it was the zen monk who was responsible for the baby.

Family could not believe her story. But they were also deluded. When they went and accused the monk, he did not even try to defend himself.

He just asked - is it so?

Father of the girl was all upset. He lost his temper and flew off the handle. He beat the monk and manhandled him in all possible ways. It was only monk's extraordinary powers that saved him from being lynched by girl's family.

Despite all this, monk kept did not react at all.

Father of the girl yelled - this is your baby. You are it's father. Take care of it now. We do not want anything to do with this baby.

Monk was not at all perturbed.

With his zen calmness he said - is it so? OK. please leave the baby with me. I will raise the baby.

Monk had no training in raising babies. But he still started raising the baby as though it was his own. He was a good monk. Some other people helped him too. 

The point here is look at how he did not defend at all. We many times go on offensive even when no one has attacked us. Somebody says something, we take it personally and off we go to defend ourselves. Defend what? Even if the person is attacking you, is he or she not harming himself or herself? What to defend against?

Anyway, story continues.

Zen monk continued to raise the kid.

The girl had not expected it. She and her boyfriend had expected that her family would kill the monk. After that she would be able to keep the baby and problem would be gone for ever.

But, there is something called conscience. However much we try, it keeps sending unmistakable signals when something is not right. We fail to make peace with ourselves and when the situation becomes unbearable, we seek the solution.

Same thing happened with the girl. She got sick. Both mentally and physically. She could not carry on with the story which she and her boyfriend had made up any longer. It was driving her insane. Without her new born baby, she was on the verge of going insane. At that time she broke down and told everything to her family.

Family felt very bad for having mistreated the zen monk. They went back to him. He was as cool as cucumber and welcomed them without even an iota of ill will towards them.

The father explained everything and asked back the baby.

Zen monk again said - is it so? OK. Here is your baby. Take it back.

Is it so? - what a powerful disarming way to deal with any situation.

Next time try it. In any difficult situation or when confronting an attacker, instead defending yourself, just ask - is it so?

I am unable to make justice to the power of this story. But the way, Swamiji told this story in less than 5 minutes, I was simply blown away. Is it so? It is a really a very powerful technique to diffuse any stressful situation.

I tried it right away. Everywhere I simply asked myself - is it so?

Keep in mind that - is it so? -  is not a question to be answered. It is a powerful zen spiritual formula which has the power of thousands and thousands of masters. Just remembering to say it makes all the difference. It slows the mind so much so that right solution starts emerging.

Next time what are you going to ask? 

Is it so?

Ask this for anything. Even if someone says you are this or that or some other bad thing. Instead of defending, just ask - is it so. See how it calms you and also everyone involved.

This blog post is rubbish. 

Is it so? :)


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