Facing Disaster

In an afternoon, a student came to the Zen center and met with Zen Master Dae Kwan. They talked about the recent disaster in Japan.

Student: Sifu, people have many opinions towards the disasters in Japan. I am sad and angry because at this time of great difficulty, someone gave the opinion that, “…the Japanese deserve this disaster because of their brutality during World War II and we shouldn’t help them,”

Zen Master: Everyone has his or her own view towards everything. Just like when you are shopping. Different shops and brands are promoting their own products. You buy what suits you and ignore what you don’t need. Others’ opinions are the same. After listening, our job is to just put down what isn’t beneficial to us.

A student once asked Zen Master Seung Sahn, “Someone prophesied that there would be an earthquake in San Francisco. Where should I escape to?” Zen Master answered, “You should put down your own life and death and stay behind to help others.” At another occasion, someone asked, “At disaster time, there are two very hungry persons. Food is not enough. What should we do?” Zen Master Seung Sahn said, “If there is one bowl of rice left, each take half a bowl. If there is only one piece of bread, each take half piece. Each one take equal share and then die together.”

In Japan, the victims faced disasters one after the other; earthquake, tsunami, nuclear leakage, and snow, making their suffering heavier and heavier. At these times,it is very important how we look at the things happening in front of us with the right view. If we have the energy of practice, we can transform emotions of anger, fear, helpless and our discriminated mind into positive emotions and correct action. Then at a critical moment, we can keep a strong center, help each other and share what we have. Then, we can accept that even if we have to die, we will die together.

Zen Master Seung Sahn always warned his students that this world is like a rotten fruit. Our practice is to find the seed inside – our true nature. In this rotten world, we have to find the thing that is not rotten. In fact, the most devastating nuclear bomb is one’s like and dislike mind and those backseat drivers; delusion, selfishness, greed, pride etc., that keep disturbing the driver that is us, our true selves. 

Now, the Universe is giving us an alarm, alerting us to find the seed inside ourselves. Not only do we have to help our families and friends, but we also need to help this world.