Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Suffering of Righteousness


The Way Out of Right Versus Wrong

Transforming Passions

Sep 26, 2021

Saying For Today: Clinging to being right or not-right... the fruit of either is sufffering for others and yourself.

Common Marjoram

'Common Marjoram'

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While the pursuit of righteousness is a motivation at first, the spiritual being comes to a point of needing to give up the pursuit of righteousness as opposed to unrighteousness. Better to release this duality than cling to trying to be right. Clinging to being right or not-right... the fruit of either is sufffering for others and yourself.

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A student, sitting on a tatami mat and facing Suzuki Roshi in the Teacher's room, lamented not being able to stop snacking in the kitchen. He questioned what he should do. Suzuki reached under his table and said, "Here, have some jelly beans."

*Suzuki Roshi. Zen is Right Here. Ed. David Chadwick.

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Suzuki demonstrates the wisdom of nonresistance. The other side of nonresistance is resistance. If we war with passions, the fight catches us. Once caught in the fight, we stick with the fight. That is, resistance is sticky.

Getting stuck with the passion and its suffering intensifies suffering. First, we suffered from following the disordered affection. Next, we suffer from getting stuck to the affection and our aggression toward it.

Also, accompanying attachment to resistance is taking our failings too seriously. Suzuki seems to say, "Enjoy snacking. Why not, rather than seeing snacking as a problem?"

Suzuki is giving a beginning lesson about how aggression strengthens aggression. He is not saying, "Glut on sweets, give free rein to our appetites."

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Jesus spoke of aggression toward harmful urges. In the Gospel of Luke 11.24-26 (ESV), he teaches that simply pushing away the passion is a form of suppression leading to an increase in the urge and its suffering.

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, "I will return to my house from which I came." And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil [malevolent, harmful] than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first."

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Taking our errant passions and shortcomings with some humor invites us to get out of the fight with them. Tempering our over-concern with rightness allows aloofness from the stickiness of righteousness. Then, we can see more clearly, rather than being blinded by our clinging to right-vs-wrong.

So, we learn our aggressive resistance feeds the duality we get caught in. Warring against what we have an aversion to, we see we are strengthening it. Trying to transcend our weaknesses strengthens them. Suzuki knew the wise way to loosen the grip snacking had on the student was for the student to relax his grip on trying to subdue snacking.

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If we are taking our temptations and failings too seriously, we are taking ourselves too seriously. There is another way - the way of gracefulness, the way of self-compassion. We open to grace when we loosen our grip on getting life right or conquering our human failings. Harmony and peace arise in place of unrest and antagonism.

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* Brian K. Wilcox, 2021

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, can be ordered through major online booksellers or the publisher AuthorHouse. The book consists of poems based on wisdom traditions, predominantly Christian, Buddhist, and Sufi, with extensive notes on the poetry's teachings and imagery.


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > The Suffering of Righteousness

©Brian Wilcox 2022