Saturday, August 12, 2006

A Zen / Dao metaphor like this: You are in a boat in a lake, suddenly you notice a boat being sailed directly toward you. You yell at the person, but it keeps coming closer. You curse the sailor and have a case of boat rage when it eventually hits your boat. Now consider what you would do if the other boat was empty i.e. it was just drifting with the wind. There would be no anger. You wouldn't curse or wish pain upon anyone. You'd just do your best to avoid it. And if it did hit, you would focus on what is important – saving yourself and recovering your boat.

It is an allusion to being dispassionate when someone does you ill. The point being, if you do meet misfortune because of someone else, you should just treat it as fate, that the other boat is empty and do what you can to improve the situation, rather than being angered by the action. Zen is big on detachment.

Last Thursday there was a wonderful moment to test this out. Some individual(s) decided to go down Marsden Avenue smashing passenger windows, opening them up and searching them for valuables. Zu, our reliable car, was caught in the devastation and gained the car equivalent of a black eye. I hadn't realised it till a neighbour knocked on my door while I was making dinner. To be honest, on hearing the news and seeing the resulting mess, my blood pressure hardly rose. I was quite detached and peaceful.

However, time does prove us all wrong. After telling Xin about it and her telling me she was too preoccupied to come home immediately to help deal with it, my peace was shattered. It is hard to empty the boat when it is someone you love. Obviously I still have some cultivation of my mind still to go until I am peaceful when my expectations are dashed by a person close to me.

I've always been a calm person – I thought I had to learn to show anger more or people won't take a grievance seriously. Once, when Vanessa unilaterally controlled the fate of a certain photograph, I wanted to show anger because considering it was a mere photograph, it was hard to make such a small issue an issue something worth protesting about. So I went through all sorts of rather artificial actions to express my disappointment and frustration. It was hard work getting angry, and it was for no result greater than harming a friendship.

Is expressing anger in any situation productive to a relationship or friendship? It is hard to imagine. If one can be dispassionate and accepting, but honest to express their qualms or disagreements it would seem to be a better course, if they can help it.

For me, today has been great. I have done my dream of "A thousand miracles before sunrise" (waking early and getting into doing so many little tasks). My rubbish collection was a little late but all other tasks were done. I resolved most of the smashed window problem (just need to call someone on Monday to fit it). I hosted some friends for morning tea and the hummus I made after that is a beautiful colour and doesn't taste half-bad. I have prepared my first ever batch of naan bread (another indian bread) which needs to sit for a couple of hours before being cooked in a hot oven. Can't wait!

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