Once, Hotetsu – a disciple of Ma Tzu – and Tanka Tennen, were on a Zen tour visiting various Zen masters to ask questions. One day, Hotetsu saw fish in a pond and motioned to them with his hand.
Tanka said, “Tennen.”
The following day, Hotetsu asked Tanka, “What is the meaning of what you said yesterday?”
Tanka threw his body to the ground and lay there, face down.
On his last day, Tanka said to his disciples, “Prepare a bath for me – I am now going.”
Then he put on his straw hat, held a stick in his hand, put on his sandals and took a step forward. But before his foot touched the ground, he had died.
First, a few questions. Somebody has asked:
I heard you say that we sometimes carry other people’s wounds.
What does this mean?
Is another person’s wound simply their thought pattern that we adopt? If we can so easily accept someone else’s wound then why is it so difficult to accept our own buddhahood?
It is a very complicated question, but if you are ready to understand I am willing to answer. Everybody is carrying other people’s wounds. In the first place, because you are living in a sick society where people are angry, full of hate, enjoy to hurt – that is the superficial level which can be understood easily. But there are subtle levels, there are so-called religious saints who are creating feelings of guilt in you, who are condemning you to be a sinner. They are giving you an idea which will create misery around you.
And the older the idea is, people accept it more easily. Everybody around the world is saying, “We are living in sin” – all these people cannot be wrong. I am alone in declaring to you that you have chosen to live in misery; it is your choice. You can drop it immediately and dance in joy, in blissfulness.
But the wound is deep. And one becomes very much familiar with one’s misery. One clings to it as if it gives you a certain coziness, but it only gives you a life of hell. But your hell is supported by everybody. If you are miserable everybody is sympathetic to you. Have you ever gone into the matter? When you are miserable, those who are sympathetic to you are nursing your misery. Have you ever seen anybody sympathetic to you when you are dancing with joy? When you are blissful, people are jealous, not sympathetic.
According to me, the whole foundation of life has to be changed. People should be sympathetic only when there is pleasure and joy and rejoicing, because by your sympathy you are nourishing. Nourish people’s joy, don’t nourish their sadness and their misery. Be compassionate when they are miserable. Make it clear, “This misery is chosen by yourself.”
On a deeper level – perhaps the questioner has not asked me to go that deep, but the answer will remain incomplete if I don’t go deep enough.