A Zen student came to Bankei and said: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper – how can I cure it?” “Show me this temper,” said Bankei, “it sounds fascinating.” “I haven’t got it right now,” said the student, “so I can’t show it to you.” “Well then,” said Bankei, “bring it to me when you have it.” “But I can’t bring it just when I happen to have it,” protested the student. “It arises unexpectedly, and I would surely lose it before I got it to you.” “In that case,” said Bankei, “it cannot be part of your true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. When you were born you did not have it, and your parents did not give it to you – so it must come into you from the outside. I suggest that whenever it gets into you, you beat yourself with a stick until the temper can’t stand it, and runs away.”
The true nature is your eternal nature. You cannot have it and not have it, it is not something that comes and goes – it is you. How can it come and go? It is your being. It is your very foundation. It cannot be sometimes, and not be sometimes; it is always there.
So this should be the criterion for a seeker of truth, nature, tao: that we have to come to the point in our being which remains always and always – even before you were born it was there, and even when you are dead it will be there. It is the center. The circumference changes, the center remains absolutely eternal; it is beyond time. Nothing can affect it, nothing can modify it, nothing really ever touches it; it remains beyond all reach of the outside world.
Go to the sea, and watch the sea. Millions of waves are there, but deep in its depth the sea remains calm and quiet, deep in meditation; the turmoil is just on the surface, just on the surface where the sea meets the outside world, the winds. Otherwise, in itself, it always remains the same, not even a ripple; nothing changes.
It is the same with you. Just on the surface where you meet others there is turmoil, anxiety, anger, attachment, greed, lust – just on the surface where winds come and touch you. And if you remain on the surface you cannot change this changing phenomenon; it will remain there.
Many people try to change it there, on the circumference. They fight with it, they try not to let a wave arise. And through their fight even more waves arise, because when the sea fights with the wind there will be more turmoil: now not only will the wind help it, the sea will also help – there will be tremendous chaos on the surface.
All the moralists try to change man on the periphery. Your character is the periphery: you don’t bring any character into the world, you come absolutely characterless, a blank sheet, and all that you call your character is written by others. Your parents, society, teachers, teachings – all are conditionings. You come as a blank sheet, and whatsoever is written on you comes from others; so unless you become a blank sheet again you will not know what nature is, you will not know what Brahma is, you will not know what tao is.