THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 2011
Originally posted by Perceive Sound.
This blog is for YOU!
From the Abbot’s Cushion
One of the most important questions that we can ask ourselves is “Why do anything?” Tony Robbins says that most people tend to “major in minor things”. We tend to get buried in busy work. The really important things we tend to put off for a day when we’ll have the time to really focus. I noticed that most of the things that kept me busy had no real significance in my life or in the lives of others. This realization hit me in my late teens. I was lucky, and I vowed to use my time wisely from then on.
Getting clear about my personal use of time was an important step. But it’s only a small part of the overall question “Why do anything?” In my early 20’s a Zen teacher asked me, “Why do you eat every day?” The question tortured me for months. I recall saying that my body needed food, and the teacher said, “Yeah, but WHY do you eat?” I replied that I couldn’t function without eating. She asked, “What is your function?” I said, “That’s why I am here, practicing Zen, to find that out.” She said, “Okay, when you find out, let me know.”
I wish I could tell you that my months of struggling with this question led to some answer. Eventually, I went back to the teacher and told her that I had no idea why I ate every day. Seeing the anguish in my face she said, “Okay, you ask me.” Fine, I’ll play along I thought. “Why do you eat every day?” She answered, “For you.”
At this point I would really love to tell you that I had an epiphany. After she made that statement I remember saying to myself “Bullshit!” I couldn’t understand anything that didn’t involve the words “I”, “me”, or “mine”. I decided to watch her carefully. For another six months I did meditation, studied, and paid attention to what my teacher said and did. One day out of the blue I walked up to her and said, “I believe you!” She smiled and continued on her way.
Only now, more than 20 years later, can I begin to appreciate how good a teacher she really was. I had learned the concept of living my life to help others, but it would still be awhile before I would own it. Once something like that becomes ours, it still unfolds as things change. Even though we know it, we benefit from being reminded that we know it. It’s important not to let our knowing become some fixed idea. If we do, we have succeeded at falling asleep again and forming a new attachment.
Years ago when technology was new, I decided that it was a waste of my time. I steadfastly avoided it. As of today, I have never programmed my own cell phone, downloaded music, played online games, or even used face book. When my current teacher was discussing various people’s blogs, I had to say that I had not read them. He asked if I had written one, and again I said no. “Have you read my blog?” he asked. “Sorry, not even yours.”
“So why do you eat every day?” he queried. “For you” I said. “Bullshit!” he laughed. I asked him what he meant. He asked, “Why don’t you blog?” I had to pause and look inside for that one. Not blogging was for me, not for others. It was a selfish act. My eating and blogging were not congruent. I had made a fixed idea that everything that needed to be said, already had been said. Why would anyone listen to me? But if everything that needed to be said had been, that would mean that all sentient beings were free from suffering. Is that reality? No. And not even for me. At least not concerning my attachment to not blogging!
Why do we do anything? Now that I am blogging, why do I blog? Not only for you, dear reader. Because even if no one ever reads this, it turns out that I needed to wake up to my own wisdom. The only reason I do what I do is to help all beings, you and me included. Why? Because we are not separate. Helping each other is the only thing that makes sense. To do otherwise hurts. But only 100% of the time. Another term for “helping” is “loving-kindness”. The opposite of “helping” is called “suffering”. Each post from here forward will in some way encourage you to wake up to your own innate wisdom, and to help others.
Yours in the Dharma,
Yours in the Dharma,
Haeja Sunim, SDPS