I am going to start a new series of threads on the Forum, because someone wrote me a list of 'BIG' questions that is so long, wonderful and thoughtful ... well, I thought I would try to respond to each question one by one, as I can.
So, here is the first. I hope other folks write something too.
Hi Mr/Ms. X,QUESTION : "Does Satori provide the answer to the ‘big questions’?" I write you now Jundo because recently certain ideas, questions, and doubts have come to me which have, to be honest, shaken my faith in the Dharma painfully. ... these doubts really have me feeling lost... I now strongly feel the need to speak to a teacher. One who has trained in Zen and opened their 'mind's eye' in some degree. I'm not expecting miracle answers that will solve everything for me but I would just like the opinion and perspective of one who has developed their Zazen practice. Basically, I was hoping that I could run a few thoughts past you Jundo. [Please answer] one at a time. But these questions seem quite pressing to me right now.
"Does Satori provide the answer to the ‘big questions’?"
You mention, as examples of some big questions, "what happens when we die", "whether there is a God and a 'Divine Plan'", "Why were we born, for what purpose" and the like. I will try to look at each of these in the coming days, one by one.
For now, I just want to address your main question: "Does Satori provide the answer to the ‘big questions’?"
Our Practice provides some very specific (and wonderful) answers to some 'big questions'. For example, Buddhism provides very clear guidance for and understanding of the origins of human suffering in this life. The "Four Noble Truths". for example, provide a formula that effectively describes the sickness and provides the medicine for its treatment or cure. (More about that here: http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...y-Dooby-Dukkha).
Our Practice provides some very wonderful answers to other 'big questions' by instructing us to drop the questions as meaningless. Some questions are as pointless as our asking 'how many angels can gather on the head of a pin' or 'what color are the rabbits that live on the moon'. An example of such a question may be "where do we 'go' when we die, and where did we 'come from' before we were born" (I will talk about that in another posting later this week). Hand in hand with that, many questions we regularly ask may just be phrased poorly, biased by our narrow, anthropocentric human understanding. An example of that may be "why do 'bad things' happen in the world". When we change the way the question is asked, answers begin to present themselves (I will talk about that too in the coming days). Hitting the "reset button' on so many of our misguided questions are what most of those old Koans are on about, by the way.
Sometimes Zen provides answers by allowing us to encounter the world in new perspectives, and non-perspective, and topsy-turvy ways unlike our usual "common sense" ways of encountering ourself and the world (not two, by the way). For example, for Zen folks, not only is the present flowing into the future, but time is also the future flowing into the present which completely holds the past at once. Or, we can be like sailors who may not know every wave and grain of sand and contour of the whole ocean, but who can taste the whole ocean in every salty drop. We are sailors who realize that sea and salt and sand and sailboat and wind and the sailor herself are just one beyond one. We realize that we are intimately every grain of sand, star in the sky and blade of grass on the shore as much as we are each hair on our own heads or our own eyes ... and yet we also are not. We can know all this with crystal clarity too.
And sometimes, Buddhism provides no answer to some 'big questions' (although that may be a kind of 'answer' too!). One such question may be whether or not there is actually a 'God' in the Judeo-Christian sense (and whether, for example, Jesus was 'His Son'). To such questions, our Zen Practice allows us to believe what we wish, or to take no stand at all. I often say:
Is there a "God named 'Jehovah'"? .......... If so, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.
Is there not some "God named 'Jehovah'"? .......... If not, live human life, fetch wood and carry water.
I will also examine that, and related matters, in future postings.
Oh, and I will also talk about what that word 'Satori' means in the coming days.
So, my response for today on whether Zen provides answers: Sometimes YES! Sometimes NO! Sometimes MAYBE! Sometimes FOR SURE! Sometimes WHO CARES!? Sometimes WHAT QUESTION?!?!