clarify life, clarify death

Sometimes our life seems to go to all kinds of so-called negative extremes.  When this happens, how do we take care of our frustrations, anxiety, pain, sorrows, even despair?  The point is how do we put balance in our life?  What kinds of standards do we use?

In the Four Noble Truths, Shakyamuni Buddha speaks the truth of suffering…  Birth, sickness, old age, and death are all suffering…  Dogen Zenji tells us that there is a buddha within sickness; there is a buddha in the midst of getting old; there is a buddha with suffering…  Do not discriminate between the life of buddha and your life.

Of the Four Noble Truths, the fourth, the Eightfold Path, is the most important, for it talks about how we can take care of suffering….  The Eightfold Path begins with right understanding, which takes care of ninety percent of the pain in life.

(From the) Eight Awarenesses of the Enlightened Person…  I want to emphasize the first two awarenesses: wanting little and knowing how to be satisfied.

The last of the Eight Awarenesses is avoiding idle talk… the pursuit of conceptual thoughts or dualistic understanding.  We can even make our healthy body sick by our thoughts and vice versa.  In our tradition, zazen is the best means to taste this nonduality, or peace.

So when you feel fear, pain, and frustration, appreciate your life as Buddha’s life….  Clarify what life is, what death is.  There is a very clear answer.  How you appreciate it and how you live it is up to you.  Please take care of it.

from Appreciate Your Life: The essence of Zen practice by Taizan Maezumi Roshi

6 thoughts on “clarify life, clarify death

  1. I have been very interested in your writings this week, although haven’t been able to find the words to comment… It is amazing that you write these all ahead of time, yet I find them all timely to where I am at the moment… I have been calling on the Buddha re: anxiety/fear issues the last couple of weeks, but maybe I need to be more specific – like calling on “the fear Buddha” 😉 And always Zazen/sitting meditation/returning to the space of deep Awareness – seems to be the best “medicine.” Thanks!

    • That’s a good point, Christine. Buddha is not external to our experience. We are buddha in the experience. When fear is noted in the body, be the fear buddha in the body.

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