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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Stepping Out of the Shadow

Mar 01, 2015 09:46PM ● By Seijaku Roshi

I am regularly asked the million-dollar questions, “What is the meaning of life?” and “Does life have a purpose?” The Dharma is all-pervasive, revealing right here right now; therefore, the answers to these questions are everywhere. Perhaps it’s easiest though to recognize them in nature.

Thomas Merton wrote, “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree.” I remember when reading these words at the young age of 12, everything changed for me. When we look at nature its beauty so often inspires us in its “authenticity”. Everything in the forest lives to be what it is. A tree is most beautiful because it is a tree. The same is true about grasses, flowers, wildlife. Nature points to the meaning of life: To live authentically, to be who you truly are.

The Purpose of Life is evident as well. Every tree, grass, plant, wildlife, is part of small and grand “ecosystems” which support the “life of the entire forest”, every single life form lives as a “benefit” for all the life forms in the forest. The Meaning of Life is to live your life “authentically”, and the Purpose of Life is to live it as a benefit for others.

There is a third component. When it gets warmer I enjoy laying in the hammock out front. Often I look up at the tops of trees swaying in the spring breeze. I lay and wonder, “Why so high?” Every historical figure whose life and actions have pivoted mankind forward was asked, “Why climb Mt. Everest?”, “Why faster than the speed of sound?”, “Why the Moon?” They all replied, “Because we can.” We are hardwired for “Authenticity”, “Benevolence” and “Excellence”. The Meaning and Purpose of Your Life is to live it authentically, as a benefit for others, and at the level of excellence —to make a difference in the world. When you live authentically without compromise, faithful to who you truly are, benefitting the lives others, and giving it all you got, your very presence changes the world!

Nothing is ever going to change in the world until you come out of the shadows. You are the missing link to ending suffering and the cause of suffering. Shadows are always evidence of light, they stand behind the light. All you need to do is recognize “You are the light,” and step out and step in. Until you do the shadows of the world will continue to darken its corners.

I Love You.

“In Memory of Kayla Mueller and all the Kaylas of the world who had the courage to Step-Out, Step-In, and Step- Out. Thank you!”

Seijaku Roshi is the abbot of Jizo-an Monastery at the Pine Wind Zen Community, located at 863 McKendimen Rd., in Shamong. For more information, call 609-268-9151 or visit

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