My thoughts go back to the past when Zen practice took place under the circumstance of war and political upheaval. I think of ancient China and Japan just 70 years ago and Vietnam 40 years ago. I think of those teachers like Shunru Suzuki and Thich Nhat Hanh who brought Zen to the West from war torn countries. I think of the Buddha who saw his own home land destroyed by war. I think of Tibet.
Remember that the Buddha's first truth is that life is suffering. Here in America we live in such easy times that it is difficult to buy into this truth There has been little need to practice with any urgency. Many of us practice as dilettantes. Zen is just one of the multitude of activities we engage in. There is nothing wrong with this. It makes sense in our current world but to really progress on this path takes a deep commitment and full time effort even if much of this effort is off the cushion. There is a saying that is often written on the han ( wooden board hit to signal time in a Zen Monastery). It goes something like this. The question of life and death is of great importance. Life is short. Don't waste any time. Some people think that just sitting is enough of a bull work against the travails of life. But as much as sitting is important resolving the question of life and death is of equal importance in that bull work. I know that recently in these blogs I have been emphasizing sitting because the wisdom of Zen (prajna) is not to be found by figuring anything out but rather appears through the grace of the clear quiet mind. And that takes a lot of sitting. Sometimes a little bit of that wisdom is helpful. We cannot just keep our head down, try to forget about the world and just practice. We need to stand up and look directly at the word and still not get emotionally caught up in events because our deep wisdom tells us that everything is ok.
So here is a little attempt at conveying some of that deeper wisdom. That deeper wisdom is the wisdom of non-duality. What I mean by non-duality is that we humans are just a small part of a greater whole and a greater intelligence that includes all of life and all of what appears to be non-living on this planet as well as everything else in the Universe. We give such importance to ourselves as individuals and yet there really are no individuals. We give such importance to our time hear on Earth and yet we live during just a pinprick of time. But what we can know is our Oneness with the Universe. And we can have a deep abiding faith in that greater intelligence of which we are a part.
In a deeper sense we are not just a part of the Whole we are the Whole. Our actions are the actions of the Whole, our thoughts are the thoughts of the Whole and our consciousness is the consciousness of the Whole. The outcome of the many thousands of hours we Zen practitioners sit in meditation is to come to identify our True Self as this One Whole Unbounded Universe. When we come to understand this then we come to realize that our concerns as individual humans have very little importance. This allows us to observe and function with our heart and yet remain unattached.