In the West, “Zen” is often thought to mean chill. Relaxed. It’s a word that, these days, is used in marketing for yuppie spas and medicinal mary jane blends.
Truth is, Zen Roshis have, through the ages, been a**holes. They hit their sleepy meditating students on the shoulder with a stick. They scream and rant.
Aggression is not “Dharma.” In fact, it’s one of the three root poisons, in Buddhism, along with ignorance and attachment/craving. But, transmuted, the three poisons become the three amritas, or skillful means…and this enlightened fury does have its fourth-resort uses.
Watching Gordon Ramsay, here, I was reminded of a Zen Roshi. Gordon’s role here, as with a sergeant in the military, is to call out mindlessness. Like in the military, the kitchen is a place where folks come together under pressure to get something done very quickly and precisely. The smallest errors or lapses in mindfulness spell the difference.
Now, I’ve never watched the show. I’ve only seen Gordon in one video, ever. So I can’t and am not implying that he’s enlightened.
But what I got out of these scenes of anger, for the most part, was humor. He’s right, in every instance. Minus a little temper tantrumming, I’d say he’s right on: calling out mindlessness and focusing his students on mindfulness.
Of course, I could only make it through the first 10 minutes: