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Submitted by Lawrence Grecco on Fri, 11/1/2013, 9:44am
I once said to Zen Master Seung Sahn, "Sonsa-nim, life has no meaning!" He replied to me, "Yeah! Life has no meaning, but no meaning is BIG meaning and you must find this point." It took many years for me to understand this teaching. - Wonji Dharma (my teacher)
The only true meaning in life we can work with is: what do we do with each moment we have before us?
Buddhism is about understanding our true self and helping all others. When we help others we’re personifying our true nature. It’s not as if we have to wait around for some enlightenment experience to take hold before we can be of any use to anyone else. One doesn’t have to come before the other— they simply coexist and they both point to each other.
By clearly understanding who and what we really are, our appropriate situation, relationship and function becomes crystal clear. We can clearly see what’s going on and our relationship to what’s going on. And it’s at this point that the correct and most appropriate thing to do arises spontaneously and effortlessly.
Understanding who we truly are doesn’t mean getting further enmeshed in the story of who we are, nor does it mean developing a more rigid sense of self. It’s really about understanding all of those aspects of our small, limited sense of self in order that we can transcend them and not be limited by their narrow scope. In Zen we are connecting to our true nature not by adding lots of ideas and concepts, but rather through a process of letting go and stripping away.
We have the capacity to understand who we are in the greatest sense—we can see beyond our like/dislike mind and no longer be caught up in our preferences and opinions. When we’re no longer beholden to every passing whim and desire we’re free to help others as needed, when needed, and in the most helpful way needed.
Chasing after every fleeting desire never works in the long term. The more we try to appease all of our desires, the more desires we’ll be stuck with, and we'll have to answer to them. It’s like drinking salt water to quench your thirst—it feels satisfying while you’re drinking, but the second you stop the thirst gets even greater.
We get caught up in the idea of happiness as having our needs met and satisfying as many of our sense pleasures as we possibly can, but this isn't true happiness. The truest and most enduring form of happiness comes from seeing ourselves and this world clearly, and being of help wherever and however help is needed.
The best definition of the Bodhisattva Way I've ever heard is: “How can I help you right now?”
"Human life has no meaning, no reason and no choice, but we have our practice to help us understand our true self. Then, we can change no meaning to Great Meaning, which means Great Love. We can change no reason to Great Reason, which means Great Compassion. Finally we can change no choice to Great Choice, which means Great Vow and Bodhisattva Way." - Zen Master Seung Sahn
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