Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Peace amid Violence

The fifth in my series of excerpts from Zen Lessons: The Art of Leadership, following on Gain and Loss. This one struck me due to its seeming Stoicism. That school of philosophy always had some appeal for me. Zen ideas have taken slightly deeper root lately, now that I practice Danzan Ryu Jujitsu, a Japanese (by way of Hawai'i) martial art.

142. Peace Amid Violence

Zen Master Shantang fled to Yunmen hermitage along with Ministry president Han Zicang, Zen Master Wanan, and one or two other Zen adepts, to avoid the violence of a civil war in the early 1130's. Mr. Han asked Wanan, "Recently I heard you were captured by soldiers of the rebel leader Li Cheng. How did you contrive to escape?"
     Wanan said, "I had been captured and bound, and starved and froze for days on end, until I thought to myself that I would surely die. Then it happened that there was a snowfall so heavy that it buried the building and caused the walls of the rooms where we were held to collapse. That night over a hundred people were lucky enough to escape."
     Mr. Hand said, "At the time you were captured, how did you handle it?"
     Wanan did not reply. Mr. Han asked him again, pressing him for an answer.
     Wanan said, "How is this even enough to talk about? People like us study the Way: we take right for sustenance and have only death. What is there to fear?"
     Mr. Han nodded at this.
     So we know that our predecessors had immutable will, even in the midst of mortal calamity and trouble in the world.
Collection of the True Herdsman

I think I send this out to all the die-hard activists out there — the Way is hard, and at the end is only death. Accepting this will actually make us more effective, and better people.


' Jack said...

YES! Zen Lessons - The Art of Leadership!

It's an excellent collection of wisdom - I just searched the internet for an excerpt - which you used in an older post! ("Don't Rush")

Not only that, but I find that your website is still being updated, and, it's about transition towns and planning and all good things like that.

I look forward to exploring the blog further :) Keep it up.

An Eaarthly Planner said...

Thanks, Jack! I appreciate the comment. I'd like to post more, but, alas, life.... Or maybe I should say "alas, a puppy...."