It’s Your Fault

By Anthony Gold

Bankei was a famous Zen master from Japan. His teaching retreats, which were always free, drew students from all over the country – beginners through advanced. At one such gathering, many of Bankei’s long term students attended. And on the second day, several of them discovered that some of their personal belongings were missing.

Suspecting one of the new students who had never attended a retreat before, they searched his room and discovered the missing items. The matter was reported to Bankei with the request that the student be expelled. Bankei ignored the case.

The next day, more items had been stolen by the new student. Surely Bankei would now take action, but once again he disregarded the matter. This angered the other pupils, who drew up a petition demanding the dismissal of the thief, stating that otherwise they would all leave.

Bankei read the petition, then summoned all attendees before him.

“You are wise brothers and have been with me a long time,” he told them. “You know what is right and what is not right. You may go somewhere else to study if you wish. But this poor brother,” he said pointing at the thief, “he does not even understand right from wrong. Who will teach him if I do not? I am going to keep him here, even if all the rest of you leave.”

A stream of tears poured down the face of the brother who had stolen. All desire to steal had vanished.

Anytime we feel wronged by another person, our natural inclination is to point the accusing finger and blame them for our suffering. “You did this to me!”

Judgment is of the ego, and will always lead to negative emotions.

The choice to judge rather than to know is the cause of the loss of peace. (T-3.VI.2)

Judgment is a choice, and directly leads to sorrow. But since it’s a choice, we have the option to make a different one. Nothing else is required – nothing else needs to be changed from what it is.

When your mood tells you that you have chosen wrongly, and this is so whenever you are not joyous, then know this need not be. (T-4.IV.2)

Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore the nature of right vs. wrong and learn how we can practice making the choice that always results in peace. I look forward to seeing you then.

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