Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My life is perfect and so is yours

That is a fundamental message of Charlotte Joko Beck, a well-known Zen teacher.  Zen is the Japanese form of Buddhism and since I was in Hawaii, I was glad to have a chance to read some of Everyday Zen by Beck.
Early in the book, she says if she were to tell me that my life is perfect right now, just as it is, I would think she was crazy.  “Nobody believes his or her life is perfect.”  Much of Zen practice is focusing the mind on observing our thoughts.  We come to see how we develop hopes that we could have a cuter pair of eyeglasses or a better lawn.  Usually, getting a cuter pair or zero weeds does not bring as much satisfaction as we expected.  Sometimes, we don’t even notice those new things since by then, our hopes and desires are focused on getting something else.
My granddaughter and her husband are reading a book assigned to him in one of his courses, Affluenza by de Graff and others. This book is about the drive toward more toys, a bigger car, a HD tv.  Zen takes the cautions against falling for marketed material goods to a higher level.  It is also a type of greed to wish to be taller, thinner, wiser, more fluent in French. 
Many religions try to help people achieve satisfaction with their lives, to “live by the side of the road and be a friend to man”.  Often contentment goes with helping others but neither that nor anything else guarantees satisfaction.
Thinking about a life that is over and the irrelevance of the criticisms of the person and others of the time may shed light on the possibility that our lives really are perfect right now.  Take Thomas Edison’s grandfather or grandmother, somebody you don’t know and have no investment in.  Look up that person’s dissatisfactions and shortcomings.  Didn’t save enough?  Didn’t dust often enough?  Maybe it was all just right or indistinguishable from the other path they kept regretting not taking.
Some people get help from thinking it is all part of a big plan or God’s plan.  I have these shortcomings, I got cheated this way because God needed me to.  My suffering helped some place else in some way I don’t know about.  
I am assisted by realizing how little I know for sure what changes I want.  One day, I tried being taller but I kept bumping my head.  Another day, I was more attractive but found no peace in barrage of invitations.  Maybe I am just right!  Maybe I can just accept my life as is.

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