Let the Breeze Carry Away White Clouds

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Recently, a middle-aged friend was laid off from work. In a fit of pique, he complained that his employer was unfair in not letting go instead the co-workers newer than him. Pitying himself, he holed up completely at home and became increasingly depressed. This upset his wife and children and seriously affected their mood. Thus, life in the peaceful family was turned upside down.

Everything that happens to us is, indeed, due to karma. Quite often, for example, we may not get the credit we deserve for having tried our very best, but to make your boss at work happy takes things working together, such as making consistent efforts, being flexible but smart, and, importantly, having a lot of work experience. The one thing most often overlooked at workplace is getting along with your supervisors and co-workers. The time, place and how you work with people all need to be in harmony, as man proposes but in fact karma disposes. Consequently, suppose you have done all you can but still fail, the kind of karma to make you succeed may nonetheless be missing, and therefore you should not nurse a grievance one way or another.

Common sense is the way, as some people like to say. “Common sense” here means being clear-headed and sensible. When we encounter difficulties, do not be led by our own demons in the first place. With a calm mind, we may analyze them and find a solution. If you get terminated, you should immediately set about looking for a new job, and try other employment opportunities. In the mean time, you ought to review your own performance at the previous job: Did I make a serious mistake? Did I cause any misunderstanding or major dissatisfaction? Self-scrutiny is always more meaningful than engaging in a blame game. Do not become overly anxious, blame others for your own failure or otherwise lose control of your mood. At any rate, let none of this affect your family or friends.

The Zen Master Baizhang Huaihai (749-814) once wrote an enlightening poem specifically about the karma for one who faces a dilemma to either stay or leave,

“What fortune it is to be a blessed kasaya-wearing monk!

I have won the fortune to be a man of leisure.

Stay if there is karma and go if there is none.

Let the breeze carry away white clouds.”

The master considered himself fortunate to be a monk, wearing a kasaya and able to enjoy leisure. Mind you, “leisure” here is no idleness. In Buddhism a person of leisure is one with a noble heart and freed from the shackles of afflictions, one who diligently pursues cultivation.

“Stay if there is karma and go if there is none.” If the right kind of karma exists, one could stay on. If there is no such karma, one should duly take his leave without hesitation or feet-dragging.

“Let the breeze carry away white clouds.” Watch how white clouds, floating in the sky without a hint of reluctance, move on with the wind in whatever direction it blows.

According to Buddhism, everything that exists in the world is a matter of karma gathering and dispersing, and as a rule, things are ever so fleeting as they change constantly. As long as we have done our best, we need not cling to the things we have done or dwell upon memories of our past, whether it is an unaccomplished ideal or unconsummated romance. Rather, one should always go with karma and do what Master Baizhang did, that is, without longing or nostalgia, one looks neither forward nor backward, but simply lives in the moment, and goes all out to tackle the most challenging task at hand. Things could be in a downturn or upturn, but one remains a “man of leisure”, even when everyone else is fully occupied with their own busy life.

For friends who have come across difficulties in love, marriage, career, business or school work, bear in mind that forasmuch as you have fulfilled your responsibilities, you should truly accept with an open mind whatever you have accomplished. As the lay Buddhist Zhou Mengyan (1656-1739) said, “Learn until you have no ego, and your vision becomes as broad as the sea and sky. In the same way, the world shrinks under you once you ascend Mount Tai.” Do not cling to temporary gains or losses and do not let them spoil your mood, let alone your health. Instead, spend time reflecting on how you fail to succeed. And then, get everything ready to forge on towards your goal for tomorrow.

“Stay if there is karma and go if there is none. / Let the breeze carry away white clouds.” With a carefree mind and a big heart, naturally, let this observation from Master Baizhang be a motto for all who follow Buddhism.

 

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