Voice of Sincerity

After Bankei had passed away, a blind man who lived near the master’s temple told a friend: ‘Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face, so I must judge his character by the sound of his voice.

Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy.

When condolence is expressed for the misfortune of another. I hear pleasure and satisfaction as if the one condoling was really glad there was something left to gain in his own world.

‘In all my experience however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere. Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.’

Efforts lead to insincerity.  Because efforts are based on need.  Need is based on feeling empty.

Children are always sincere.  Bankei was still a child playing in the garden of God.  We have left that garden for arduous adulthood.

Just be.  In that state everything of nature starts to become clear.  None can cheat in that state.  No doubt remains.  It becomes crystal clear.  There is no need to judge.  It is strange that in that non-judgmental state the other person starts to tell his real story. 

The difference between judgmental and non-judgmental state is that in non-judgmental state one is not trying to judge.  One simply remains related to everyone.  One is completely accepting others the way they are.  In that state, whether the others want or not, they will show their real face.  One does not condemn whatever the face one sees. 

The non-judgmental state brings out the real judgment.  And this judgment does not alter the non-judgmental state.

One can hear the words and also the real emotions behind those words.  It is those emotions that this blind man is able to hear is what is making him sure about his judgments.   Those emotions cannot be fudged. 

There is no ‘how’ to understand these true emotions.  It is not a skill that can be imparted.  One just picks up such skills.

One is always trying to show something other than real because real is so pathetically poor.  If the real is not that poor then there is no need to encapsulate anything. 

There should be oneness in thought, speech and action.  Speak what you think, do what you speak.  In all three; total unanimity.  What is within is without.  No hypocrisy, no need to show something which you are not. 

This is quite a natural state.  But will require tremendous alertness when one is habituated to show a different face.

This oneness in thought, speech and action makes one a righteous, religious, Dharmic person.  It is only such Dharmic person that can go towards Moksha.  To be such a Dharmic person is a precondition to becoming realized.  One may become truly and completely Dharmic only with the help of meditation on spiritual knowledge.  But still before that also great deal of righteousness and sincerity is called for.

We would have understood that this world is God’s stage and we are merely playing our role as actors. But this does not mean we become actors, insincere and show false emotions.  To play our role diligently is our Dharma – religion.  For that oneness in thought, speech and action is foremost needed.

Remain aware of what you are doing.  This leads one to observe one’s speech; to see if there is any dichotomy.  Just keeping the rule of not saying lie would not help.  This can lead one to ultimately be mindful of mind itself.  This can lead to being on the same page in kaya(action)-vacha(speech)-manasa(thought). 

Such observation will show our real state of being.  If there is oneness in these three then there would be a natural flow like situation.  Or else one will experience disturbance.  One is not able to keep oneness because of some disturbance, some emptiness – this further leads to more disturbance.  Only way to come out of this vicious cycle is to be aware.

One may show to others one’s unreal face.  If one is not observing this then one may start believing that false entity created by one self to be the true self.  Thereafter it would be very painful to have this false entity be broken. 

Our observation, alertness should work as lie detector test.  There should not be any need for instruments.  Before other people or instruments catch our lies we should be catching them ourselves.  Only the person who wants to live the Truth will be such sincere in observing, detecting and then rectifying them.

Saints have both happiness and sorrows as others joy is our joy, others pain is our pain; because we are others, and others are me. But saints do not have hypocrisy.  Mood is not constant, sincerity is constant.  If one has to be constant in conceptual happiness then that would be burden.  That would be effort.  That can never give real happiness.  Sincerity gives real happiness.  

We do not feel related.  We feel so much separated that there is need to compete.  We find ourselves through such competitions. Then to be with the joys and sorrows of others is impossible; but still we have to be with others joys and sorrows in society.  This is what breeds insincerity. 

We are not sincere to ourselves, so we are not able to be sincere to others.  In not being sincere to others, we are not sincere to ourselves because we are trying to avoid seeing our jealousies, ugliness.  If we do not see that our home is dirty we are not going to clean it.

After Bankei had passed away…..

Because blind person did not wanted to make Bankei conscious.  Such sincerity is not the result of conscious effort.  On the contrary, it comes out of naturalness.

It is only after Bankei has passed away from himself that this kind of sincerity is possible.  Until one is filled with oneself, one’s real Self cannot shine through him.

a blind man….

This is a man who does not just rely on superficial things to know; whose source of knowledge includes deeper layers of understanding.  A blind man here means one who is not habituated to our deceitful, judgmental way of looking at things.

A blind man’s reference here also shows how much blind we ourselves have become through all our efforts at becoming something.  All that we have become is blind to obvious Truths.  Now we are just able to see the superficial realities.  We run behind them.  Through this running we believe we are progressing but in reality we are simply tiring ourselves.  So there is gap between our understanding of reality and the actual reality.  Our everyday behavior is just showing this.  This is what this koan is saying.  This koan is pointing to a deeper layer of ignorance within us.

who lived near the master’s temple….

so near that there was no need to judge.  Everything was clear.  You can show your smiling face to guests, but your family members know your reality.  You cannot put on the garb all the time.  It is just so artificial, so much burdensome.  So your near ones know you nearly; really.

told a friend…

These things can only be shared with friends.  Somewhere there should be connect between this not so blind person and the listener of this koan.  When we listen to this koan, we are those friends of this not so blind person.  May be we are those blind friends of this not so blind person.  Maybe we are those artificial, superficial friends of this real man.  He is making us friends, if the message of this koan touches our heart that know that we are also in friendship with him.  Only in such deep friendship real communion can happen.

‘Since I am blind, I cannot watch a person’s face…

Our face is just a layer of skin.  When somebody listens to us we do not want them to listen to our skin.  But we want them to listen to us.  We are a lively entity.  Skin keeps on changing and withers away frequently.  Though we also keep on changing the liveliness in us remains constant.  Skin is like matter enveloping the spirit that we really are.  Somehow spirit is in a way needing to use the matter.  But we want our spirit to be heard and not just the matter.  We do not want to be taken on face value only.  Similarly we should not take people just on face value.  This blindness is a blessing.  Such blindness we should all have; a blindness that develops our real sixth sense to see the real face.

‘….I must see the person through the sound of his voice’….

This is not judging.  In fact unless one stops to judge this real face cannot be seen.  The real face of everyone is beautiful.  The wise is fine with whatever we are.  And since the wise is accepting us the way we are we unknowingly show our real face to them.  This is not a special skill to acquire.  When one is empty one gets this skill.  If one goes behind acquiring this skill then one will never be able to be empty to really get this skill. 

‘Ordinarily when I hear someone congratulate another upon his happiness or success, I also hear a secret tone of envy.’…..

Ordinarily, ordinarily we have become insincere.  Everyone knows this deceit.  Still everyone engages in them. 

A person went to a greeting card shop.  There he inquired, “Please show me the section where ‘my one and only one’ cards are kept.”  The shop manager showed him the place.  After examining the cards the person ordered, “Ok, give me fourteen of this ‘one and only one’ cards!”

We are jealous; we are not jealous of somebody.  That somebody is required to see the jealousy lying within us.  The other just brings that out.  The other is the facilitator to show the dirt lying within us.  The other is not the problem.  The other is part of the solution.  The other is not outside.  The other is within us which comes out when our jealousy becomes unbearable; when our dirt needs a venting avenue.

Sometimes people feel something is better than nothing.  So someone’s pretentious praise and condolences is also awaited.  The ego itself is false, is at surface level; so it can easily satisfy with falsehoods.  But the heart is the deeper reality.  It remains thirsty of true expressions. 

‘In all my experience however, Bankei’s voice was always sincere…

Always.  A very famous koan about Bankei is this.

When Bankei was preaching, a priest, who believed in salvation through the repetition of the name of the Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to debate with him.

When Bankei was giving a talk the priest appeared.   The fellow made such a disturbance that Bankei stopped his discourse and asked about the noise.

‘The founder of our sect,’ boasted the priest, ‘had such miraculous powers that he held a brush in his hand on one bank of the river, his attendant held up a paper on the other bank, and the teacher wrote the holy name of Amida through the air. Can you do such a wonderful thing?’

Bankei replied lightly: ‘Perhaps your fox can perform that trick, but that is not the manner of Zen. My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink.’

Whenever he expressed happiness, I heard nothing but happiness, and whenever he expressed sorrow, sorrow was all I heard.’

No dichotomy between within and without.    

Mostly known people ask, “How are you?” when they meet.  I have never heard a person saying, “I am not fine.” The reality is almost always something different.   When you are not in proper frame of mind it is better to stay within your room.  There is no need to go out and pretend.  If you are determined to get rid of pretensions then they will vanish.  And ego is the ultimate pretension.