I have been exploring the idea of 'baggage' on my blog. I'm going to admit that I am probably pretty naive about the whole "baggage" concept and how it applies to the whole Zen perspective. Yet I also can't help but be curious about it.
I once participated in a contest where I had to write my life story in 6 words, I wrote:
Nothing bad ever happened to me.
This bears a bit of explaining. First you have to define bad. Some think death is bad (Iím still undecided on this one), others think abuse, car accidents, illness, bankruptcy, a stubbed toe, ad infinitum- is bad. I think all those things do fall into the bad category, but are they truly bad?
I almost lost my dad a decade ago. He had a heart attack and he is still in the grips of slow cardiac failure. Every day for him is a gift, because every day he is alive may be his last. Thus, every day I have my dad alive on the other end of the phone is a gift to me. Some would call ongoing illness with a death as the final outcome bad. I see it this way:
My dad is going to die some day. We all are. The good thing about my dadís situation is that we are all aware of how precarious his life is, so we have thus far had 12 years of days where we get to appreciate each and every moment. Discussing the weather with my father is a beautiful gift. Each moment, each mundane task, each ache and pain are to be appreciated for what they are. This is a good thing.
So, personal baggage isnít just a series of things that happen to us. Personal baggage is a series of things we continue to LET happen to us. Zen baggage is the same way. We let ourselves hold on to things. We let ourselves not let go of things we want to happen or think should happen. Both kinds of baggage require letting go of Ďhappení all together, along with good and bad, and just being. Then the whole issue of baggage becomes nil.
When I sit, I could rehash all the other times Iíve sat and "almost got it", or the bad things that happened throughout my day. Or I could just sit. Hell, I could rehash all the joyous things going on in my life too, but instead I just sit. Just like my Dadís life, sitting must be done one moment at a time. The past doesnít matter, because if we spend too much time on the past we are going to miss the moments right now. The future doesnít matter, if we worry about the future we are going to miss right now. Right now my dad is alive, smiling, talking. Why in the world would I want to miss that? Right now the cushion is underneath me, my right knee is sore, and the wall is a wall. Why in the world would I want to miss that?