The purpose of life is to find the seed of your own compassion and then to help grow that seed in others, says Zen Master Soeng Hyang. My daughter agrees…
Zen and Meditation
What if, in conflict, we thought as no person is our enemy? What if it is misunderstanding, extreme desire and anger that cause poor behavior? Then, are not misunderstanding, extreme desire and anger are our only enemies? So if we want to stop conflict, shouldnt we reduce misunderstanding, extreme desire and anger?
What might meditation bring you? I don’t know. It is for you to find out. But here is a post of what a recent retreat brought me and some meditation instruction that will help you find out what meditation would bring you, too.
Acceptance is a strangely loaded word. Self-help gurus sometimes say that if we accept things then we won’t try to change them. Social justice advocates sometimes say that if we accept the world as it is then we won’t take the actions necessary to bring about true justice. We need our fear, anger and discontentment, people say, to motivate us. But what if there is something better?
Life is very busy and also very short. It can fly by very quickly. Many of us are born with some particular drive or aspiration or vision to engage in spiritual inquiry. Some of us embrace what feels like our path and others of us push the nagging questions aside in favor of the necessities of the day. Later, after time has passed, some of us regret not embracing those big questions about life. So what can you do?
In meditation, sometimes we chase after a particular type of “feeling.” The thing is, in life, everything comes and goes, even nice feelings. Meanwhile, while we are chasing after these temporary feelings, we miss the opportunity to really pay attention and learn about life as it is (as opposed to as we want it to be). Stuck in this chasing loop, we miss the chance to develop our prajna–our wisdom. This post is about how to use meditation to gain wisdom about life instead of to chase after a particular temporary feeling.
A Zen student had travelled to India and had become overwhelmed when he gave to beggars there. On the one hand, he had an intention to help in the world. On the other, he wondered if he was incentivizing begging. I did not want to give him “advice,” but instead to offer an approach to decision making that does not depend on the concepts and stories we tell ourselves but that instead arises from our True Self. The approach involves trusting our intuition and then adjusting our actions over and over as we get new information.
I have always loved the Zen approach to Buddhism because, like the gnostic and mystical paths of all the great religions, it is not about studying the words of a teacher but about finding out for yourself. What am I? What is my place in the world? This is a teaching letter I wrote about using meditation to find your true self and life direction.