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Getting Rid of Emotions and Desires

A veteran general, who was tired of wars, paid a special visit to Zen Master Dahui Zongnie and requested to be a Buddhist monk. He proposed: “Master! I have been disillusioned with the mortal world. Please show your mercy to take me in and allow me to be your disciple!”

Zen Master Zongnie replied: “You have a family and have already formed deep-rooted social habits. You are too worldly to be a Buddhist monk. Let’s put this aside first.”

The general insisted: “Master! I can let go of everything. My wife, my children or my family cannot keep me back from doing this. Please take the tonsure for me right away!”

Zen Master Zongnie said: “Not now, we will discuss it some other time.”

There was nothing the general could do but left. The other day, he got up very early to pray to Buddha in the temple. Zen Master Zongnie saw and asked him: “Why did you come and pray to Buddha at such an early time?”

The general answered with a Buddhist hymn: “In order to get rid of emotions and desires, I get up early to worship and pray to Buddha.”

The Zen master cracked a joke on him with a Buddhist hymn as well: “You get up so early. Don’t you worry that your wife would have a clandestine affair?”

The general felt offended by the remarks and cursed: “You old geezer! Your words are insulting!”

Zen Master Zongnie burst out laughing and said: “A slight fan can set fire to your emotions. With such a bad temper, how can you let go of everything?”

Let go! Let go! It is easier said than done. It seems easy to comprehend when you listen to the Dharma, but it is hard for you to put it into practice when it comes to real situations. Social habits are not easy to get rid of. A leopard never changes his spots. Here is a piece of advice to those who are interested in being a Buddhist monk: “Don’t expose yourself to ridicule for a sudden impulse.”


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