What’s The Point?
Someone heard me say that we can practice in this life, living to be gentle and wise now, unconcerned about lives after this one.
They wrote to ask me the point of practicing Zen without a “belief in rebirth … If there is no rebirth, don’t we all escape samsara when we die – whether we sit or not?”
I answered: Who said that there is no rebirth?
One is reborn as all this world, each baby and blade of grass, which are our 10,000 other faces (as much as your left eye is your right eye on the left!)
Our good or harmful acts have consequences which impact the world, not only our own present life, but the lives of sentient beings near and far, rippling onward, endlessly through time.
If YOU are mainly interested in what this practice can do for YOUR PERSONAL rebirth, then that would be a selfish attitude, plus hopeless from a Buddhist point of view, as there is no “YOUR PERSONAL” beyond the little self!
In our Bodhisattva Vow, our practice is never for ourself alone, but for rescue of all sentient beings everywhere, now or then, here and far.
In fact, YOUR fixation on YOUR desires for “YOUR PERSONAL” is the root of all Dukkha (suffering)!
Though some folks practice for what “I” can get out of it, there is no “I” nor “not I” which can be gotten! There is never an “our self,” and all is our self, True Self, No Self which is All Selves. The Buddha’s realization under the Bodhi Tree: “I and all beings together realize enlightenment.“
Above and Below , All are the Honored One Alone.
In any case, lives or not after this one, live gently now for now is the pivot point: I do not know or much care about hells after death, for I see enough lost people create hells for themselves and those they touch in this life.
Live gently now, and what comes will come. The person also asked, if we are already enlightened as some Zen folks claim, then why bother to sit? Buddha did not believe in intrinsic freedom, he believed in a path to liberation from samsara.
I said: Yes, we believe this too. Better said, we believe both as true at once.We are already liberated, always were and always will be, but most sentient beings do not realize so.
They bury this fact in greed, anger and the divided thinking of ignorance.
Thus, we must walk the path to realize so, acting in peace and gentleness in every step, embodying the Buddhist way.
If someone thinks, “I am already liberated, thus I don’t need to do anything,” then they do not understand.
If someone thinks that liberation is lifetimes away, and not in this immediate thought, word and act right here and now, and what one chooses to do with it for good or bad, then they do not understand.
One sits, as the Buddha chose to sit under the Tree.
One sits as the morning star shining, nothing lacking nor anything to add to this shining light.
Thus we sit Zazen, then getting up from the cushion, encounter endless times to put this Path into Practice in each moment.
Someone else asked here today: “what to do when sitting seems pointless?”
I advise: TRUST, with total unvoiced FAITH deep in the marrow of the bones, that THIS VERY SITTING is the fulfillment of anything and everything ever to be desired or had in life, the one place to be, the only act to do in all the universe in this very moment of sitting, with sitting the pinnacle of the mountain and the arrival at the goal in sitting itself, one’s sitting sat as all Buddhas and Ancestors sitting with one’s very ass!
That should help.