Chapter 8: Everybody Has the Right to Be Wrong
Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything. You’ll possess spiritual powers that can’t be obstructed. And you’ll be at peace wherever you are. If you doubt this, you’ll never see through anything. You’re better off doing nothing. Once you act, you can’t avoid the cycle of birth and death. But once you see your nature, you’re a buddha, even if you work as a butcher.
In fact, it has happened: In Japan a butcher became enlightened. He was the butcher of the emperor, and when he became enlightened, even the emperor came to pay his respects. The emperor could not believe, because he had seen the butcher cutting animals just behind his palace.and he asked him, “What about my kitchen? You have become enlightened, obviously you are not going to do your old profession.”
The master laughed. He said, “No, I will continue. Now I can butcher animals with more compassion, with more love, with more grace. And anyway they will be butchered by somebody else, who will not be so compassionate as I can be, who will not be so graceful with them as I can be. When they are going to be butchered, what difference does it make?
“And as far as my enlightenment is concerned, it remains uncorrupted in any and every situation. My inner sky cannot be clouded again. I have come to a point from where one cannot fall back. So don’t be worried; I will be coming back tomorrow, to my profession.” And he remained alive for almost twenty years after his enlightenment. In the morning he would do his profession of killing animals and in the evening he would teach the disciples about enlightenment. And not only did he become enlightened, a few of his disciples also became enlightened.
Bodhidharma is right: if you understand that you are a buddha, if you see your nature, then even if you work as a butcher it is immaterial.
The disciple asked:
But butchers create karma by slaughtering animals. How can they be buddhas?
I only talk about seeing your nature. I don’t talk about creating karma. Regardless of what we do, our karma has no hold on us.
Once you know yourself, nothing has any hold on you. Your freedom is absolutely incorruptible. You cannot do anything that can go against your freedom.