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Thread: Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - II (Life's Purpose?)

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  1. #1

    Jundo Tackles the 'BIG' Questions - II (Life's Purpose?)

    The next 'BIG' questions on the list ...

    Does life have a purpose? Is some Divine Plan unfolding? Why are we born?
    Why does the sun rise? Why does the wind blow?

    Do the sun and wind each ask themselves such questions? Or do they just shine and gust?

    Does the absence of an answer "why" make the sun's warmth on your shoulders, and the cool breeze on your cheek, any less real?

    In other words, you were born ... for whatever reason or no reason at all. You were born, that is a fact. So, shine ... LIVE!

    Now, David wrote this ...

    I always believed that Zen leads to direct experience of ‘truth’ or reality without filters. I thought Zen was about going beyond mere beliefs and actually KNOWING, so it’s a shock to hear that Zen makes you none the wiser as to whether there is any purpose or point to all this. Do I have that right? I imagined Zen to be kind of getting in direct contact with the ... plan that is unfolding ... a universe that has some underlying principle, purpose or 'set up'.
    Our Zen Practice is the direct experience of 'truth', reality without filters ... the sun on our shoulders, wind on our cheek, we are ALIVE! What is more unfiltered, intimate, direct experience than that?

    If you ask me for the "why" of vanilla ice cream, its "truth" ... I will tell you to taste the sweetness on your own tongue.

    http://treeleafzen.blogspot.com/2008/01 ... rs_24.html

    That is beyond mere belief ... that is KNOWING. Do you really need the recipe to the ice cream in order to enjoy it? Or, for that matter, the name of the ice cream maker? The color of his shoes, or his wife's maiden name? Is it not enough to taste it for yourself, and find its meaning on the end of your own tongue?

    Is it not enough to say that the purpose of ice cream is to eat it on a hot day, and likewise, the purpose of life is to live it? That is, to me, life's 'purpose' ... living ... and I am in direct contact with it. One might even say I am it, and it is me ... that is how intimate I am with the purpose of life.

    Silly human beings: We cook up in our own minds the words "purpose" and "purposeless", "meaning" and "meaningless" ... even the words "plan" and "destination" may be human inventions. Where do these standards and concepts come from but the measuring, judging brain ... a brain that may makes its own subjective standards (figments of our imagination). What if we dropped those words from mind? Does the sun ask each morning "what is my purpose"? And when the sun's rays cause a flower to sprout up from a seed ... is that flower following some "plan", does it compare itself to the other flowers as to whether it is of greater or lesser value, a "flower" or a "weed" (only the human gardener does that)? Is its growth "meaningful" or "meaningless"? Would it somehow not be as much, or more, a flower dependent on the answer to any of that? The flower speaks by its silence. (Heck, is it even a "flower" when we drop the human word "flower" from mind?)

    Silly questions!

    I do not know if this universe has a plan, or a creator who made some plan. I don't think any human being knows or has ever known for sure, whether Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu or any shade of Buddhist. Nobody knows. I could make up some magical myth, or silly story, to tell you ... like all the other religions do, but I won't bother.

    Please understand this, and it is one key to Zen Practice (we now move from flowers and ice cream to boat similes ... ):

    Our life is very mysterious, and to be born as a sentient being is very much like waking up suddenly & sentient, for no known reason, in a row boat in the middle of a unknown river. An oar is in your hand. No idea how you got there, but there you are. You may not know who (if any "who") made the boat, the river, you, the mosquitoes, the surrounding shore that stretches to the horizon. But, here you find yourself, in life's little boat, with a paddle, heading down that river. River runs before you, seems like it came from somewhere behind. You do not know why (if any "why"). What to do?

    Just paddle paddle, sometimes drift drift.

    And what's more, our Zen Practice allows us to see that we are the river, the boat, the mosquitoes ... In this way, we realize that where the river flows, is where we flow. What's more, the river's flowing is just our flowing. In other words, we may not know where (if anywhere) the river is going, or where (if anywhere) the river arose ... but we go with the flow! We ARE the flowing! Don't resist.

    Shoot, that river's gonna take you where its going anyway!

    So, in conclusion, I think Zen Folks come to look on this universe with tremendous trust. It is not a matter of knowing "why" or "the plan" ... it is more a feeling of trust that this boat will take us where it will get us. Yes, I have a "suspicion" (nothing more) that, since events worked out so nicely to place me in this boat, in this river, an oar in my hand ... well, it is going somewhere for some reason. I have my "suspicions" (nothing more) that, given all that was required by physics, chemistry and biology to create this human body amid the seemingly endless potential for me not to have been born, not to be here right now ... I think it likely not a purely random and "purposeless" event (I am actually writing a book on this right now, tracing the history of physical, chemical and biological events that meandered around to our human births on earth ... we are the beneficiaries of a lot of seeming good fortune necessary for us to be alive. I have my doubts that it is purely random; quite likely, 'tis something very profound). Maybe we are the eyes and ears of the universe, or god telling stories to himself, or some god damned thing ...

    But I do not know for sure. And in the meantime, I am content to enjoy the ride. It is my ride, my life.

    I am sorry if that answer is not sufficient for you.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I have often thought that, if there is a "plan" ... it is likely something that we are just too stupid to grasp anyway, much as an insect's brain could not begin to grasp the workings of a 747.

    And anyway, if there is a designer with a "plan" I am sure she would have told us the "plan" if she wanted us to know it. :wink:

  2. #2
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    I seem to be making a habit of replying to old, old threads, for which I apologize, albeit without a sense of sorrow -- there's just to much of interest to read, and I'm doing some catching up.

    Whenever I hear the word "purpose," I think of a story Alan Watts relates that can be heard on the "Out of Your Mind" lecture series, or be read in his autobiography, about his Zen teacher and father-in-law, Sokei-an:

    One evening he was giving a formal lecture on the Sutra of Perfect Awakening, dressed in robes of brown and gold brocade and seated in his chair of estate at a small table-altar with candles and incense. He would pause from time to time, and drop powdered sandalwood or aloeswood on the hot brick of charcoal in the koro, or incense brazier. He came to a passage where the sutra spoke of the importance of living without purpose, and, true to his accent, commented: “In Buddhism pahposeressness is fundamentar’. No pahpose anywhere in rife itser’f. When you drop fart you do not say, ‘At nine o’crock I drop fart.’ It just happen.” The audience, accustomed to Christian decorum on such occasions, stuffed their handkerchiefs in their mouths.
    Watts, Alan (2011-02-09). In My Own Way: An Autobiography (pp. 135-136). New World Library. Kindle Edition.

    May we all drop many farts.

    Gassho!

    Cliff

  3. #3


    If I may kinda paraphrase something I said recently on a thread about German Philosophers & Existentialism ...

    For me, life is something like being born on a mysterious sailboat sailing on the sea. Through this Practice, one finds that the point is in the sailing, not the destination ... that there are good directions and bad (those that head into storms and onto rocks, those that go with the wind) ... and that water, sun and wind, wheel and mast, storms and clear skies, sails and this  sailor are each separate, yet each one. Very Existential! Much purpose and aim right in the sailing. (And there are even times to sit on the deck with a good book of German Philosophy ... or just to fart!)

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-01-2014 at 05:16 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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    You can never go wrong with a sailing analogy! (Or farting.) Gassho!

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    Hmmmm. As I was reading this I stopped a moment to let it all sink in. I noticed my cat sleeping - being nothing but pure cat. Then I realized I could be pure human if I were to let go and immerse into the flow.....just as the cat does. She revels in her pure cat-ness - I should revel in my pure human-ness. Asking no questions, accepting the day, loving the moments, acting when necessary and not acting when not. Kitty seems to have a better understanding of Zen then I do

    Yes, I way simplified it.....but that's how it 'struck' me.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Nandi View Post
    Hmmmm. As I was reading this I stopped a moment to let it all sink in. I noticed my cat sleeping - being nothing but pure cat. Then I realized I could be pure human if I were to let go and immerse into the flow.....just as the cat does. She revels in her pure cat-ness - I should revel in my pure human-ness. Asking no questions, accepting the day, loving the moments, acting when necessary and not acting when not. Kitty seems to have a better understanding of Zen then I do

    Yes, I way simplified it.....but that's how it 'struck' me.
    Yes, our cat ... Mao Mao with the crooked tail, who came to us after Tin Tin was hit by a car during the winter ... teacher me each day.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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