A monk said to Bankei: I was born with a short temper. It’s always flaring up. My master has remonstrated with me time and again, but that hasn’t done any good. I know I should do something about it, but as I was born with a bad temper, I’m unable to rid myself of it no matter how hard I try. Is there anything I can do to correct it? This time, I’m hoping that with your teaching, I’ll be able to cure myself. Then, when I go back home, I’ll be able to face my master again, and of course I will benefit by it for the rest of my life. Please, tell me what to do.
Bankei: That’s an interesting inheritance you have. Is your temper here now? Bring it out. I’ll cure it for you.
Monk: I’m not angry now. My temper comes on unexpectedly, when something provokes me.
Bankei: You weren’t born with it then. You create it yourself when some pretext or other happens to appear. Where would your temper be at such times if you didn’t cause it? You work yourself into a temper because of your partiality for yourself, opposing others in order to have your own way. Then you unjustly accuse your parents of having burdened you with a short temper. What an extremely unfilial son you are!
Each person receives the Buddha-mind from his parents when he’s born. His illusion is something he produces all alone, by being partial to himself. It’s foolish to think that it’s inherent. When you don’t produce your temper, where is it?
All illusions are the same; as long as you don’t produce them, they cease to exist. That’s what everyone fails to realize. There they are, creating from their own selfish desires and deluded mental habits something that isn’t inherent but thinking it is. On account of this, they’re unable to avoid being deluded in whatever they do.
You certainly must cherish your illusions dearly for you to change the Buddha-mind into them just so you can be deluded. If you only knew the great value of the Buddhamind, there’s no way you could ever be deluded again, not even if you wanted to be. Fix this clearly in your head: When you are not deluded, you are a Buddha, and that means you are enlightened… Once you’ve realized this and you stop creating that temper of yours, you’ll find that you won’t have any other illusions either, not even if you want to, for you’ll be living constantly in the unborn Buddha-mind. There is nothing else.
This is the famous passage wherein Bankei declares to the monk who is troubled with his anger, “Where is this anger? Show it to me and I will cure it for you.” Bankei’s methods would not fare very well with present day psychiatrists or psychologists. Today’s rules of the game stem from rigid dependence upon the DSM (Diagnostic/Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) manual, wherein all mental disorders (and the unfortunate recipients thereof) are pigeon-holed into strict and unbending classifications and diagnoses. And then the appropriate medications are prescribed as the patient becomes dependent upon them for the rest of their lives. I was diagnosed with an “anxiety-disorder” way back in 1986 and have been dependent upon psychiatric meds ever since. It’s true that these disorders can stem from certain chemical imbalances; I know for myself when I arise in the morning, if I don’t take the meds that chemically something is happening inside my head that causes anxiety via an endless array of thoughts and emotions that can prevent proper focus of mind. I come from a family that is riddled with anxiety on the paternal-side ; indeed, I’ve been exposed to it since I was a baby and it still invades the scene quite frequently. Yet, I have to wonder if the chemical solutions offer any lasting benefits; it seems to be that it all leads to a greater dependency upon the medication that was meant to break the cycle of co-dependence in the first place. I’m sure that in Bankei’s time certain strands of DNA were afflicted with some form of chemical disorder, but the approach to solving the dilemma was quite different.
Bankei is dead-on when he says that just trying to lay the blame on one’s parents for certain maladies like anger is a real cop-out. Today’s solution is to do precisely that; I remember being in therapy years ago and the shrink saying emphatically, “Ah –haaa, we’ve found the culprit here!” meaning, of course, members of my family. Are families really to blame for what particular strands of DNA they’ve inherited? I think not. Sure, a problem exists, but the real way they can be solved is if one learns how not to “react” to a given set of circumstances. All this stuff is learned behavior, behavior that after time becomes somehow coded into those ol’ DNA strands. But the way to break the code is to rise above it—in a very real sense to develop an inner-mechanism that renders it null and void. Bankei says to nip-it-all in the bud before it gets out of hand. The way to rise above it is to be Prior-to-it, and that is through faithful and incessant abidance in the Unborn. I wish I had encountered Bankei before being exposed to that chemical-route all those years ago, but I’m working on it. In fact, this series has been particularly beneficial for me. Bankei says that rather than chastise one’s parents, one should be eternally grateful to them; indeed, it was through their seed that you became born as a human being; and a human being has a greater chance on the sentient-spectrum of rising above and avoiding future re-birth in Samsara. So, be grateful to them for having had this opportunity. Also, one doesn’t have to remain stuck in that other cycle of dependent psychological baggage that accompanies all families in some form or other; don’t keep incessantly placing the blame on someone else for what you may or may have not inherited genetically, just take RESPONSIBILITY-NOW and, as Bankei says, don’t keep cherishing all those chemical delusions inside your heads, just know and have faith in that greater value of the Unborn Buddha Mind, and do what you need to do (or undo) accordingly. Remember this above all: there is NO-TEMPER or any form of ANGER in the Unborn; all-things are unfolding temperately and in proper order and will continue to do so, provided you don’t get in the way and “create” all those disorders in the first place. Indeed, “Show me your anger!” It’s not really there unless you first “react” to an impulse and thus create it yourself.