Communing with Life
Jul 31, 2014 04:57PM
● By Seijaku Roshi
The experience we all seek, the deepest level of living, is not in the communication but in communion with life. Zen training calls us into relationship or communion with all of life as it is happening here and now, and not as we would prefer it to be, but exactly as it is and is not.
A person’s real strength in their endeavor to end suffering and its causes is not augmented by possessing any singular truth, but by a lifetime commitment to an endless inquiry into the nature of the human experience. Therefore the destination is the journey—endless, immeasurable, subtle and profound—with an absolute demand to be here now all along the way.
The sangha, or Buddhist community, is like a great temple where life is divested of superstition; ignorance is dismantled; men and women learn in community what none may know alone; and the value of each individual member’s experience is measured not by the ideals they may hold, the knowledge they may have acquired, nor the beliefs they may possess; but by the sincere devotion and sacrifice they take to realize the true meaning and purpose of their existence, refusing to squander this precious, vulnerable life or take any part of it for granted.
In Thomas Merton’s words, “The solution of the problem of life is life itself. Life is not attained by reason and analysis but first of all by living.” Life can only be fully known by living it. The problematic issue for most of us is that we have forgotten how to live life. We have forgotten its taste, smell, vision, sound and feel and replaced it by a delusion we call ‘my life’—a story filled with sound and fury, analysis and reasoning, comings and goings, gains and losses, successes and failures, hopes, dreams, and expectations, signifying nothing. The story is read and told over and over again as a fruitless attempt to keep life alive as if life is dependent upon the story; as if without the story there is no life. Thus we become dependent upon an undependable resource for living, because the story is, at all levels, an interpretation. As Alduous Huxley wrote, “Our experience is never what happened to us; it’s what we did with what happened to us.”
The meaning of life is to live it. The purpose of your life is to know it, through and through, authentically, purposefully, and intimately, just the way it is. This is the only true satisfaction we seek and will ever know.
Seijaku Roshi is the abbot of Jizoan Monastery at the Pine Wind Zen Community, located at 863 McKendimen Road, in Shamong. For more information, call 609-268-9151 or visit Jizo-an.org.