we often hear that our practise of Zen in general and Shikantaza in particular is "goalless", so why bother to do anything at all?

On a very simple level one could argue that it would clearly be a real waste of opportunity to not truly pursue that which we deem to be important. As followers of the Great Vehicle however, the true motivation for our active non-doing should run deeper. Though there is nothing to gain, there is obviously a lot of work to be done. Just look around you and see that suffering is present everywhere. There is a lot to do and nothing to gain....though this sounds terribly anachronistic in an age where a person's worth is often judged by their numerical "efficiency" in different areas of life, it is the mark of true Bodhisattva practice...doing without aiming for any "thing" in particular other than to be of service to those in need. Single-mindedness and perseverance need not take the form of some kind of contrived endeavour, they can simply be antidotes to self righteous laziness. But we have to keep at it, beyond mere desires for goal-fulfilling. One might even say the only way to truly honour this fleeting life is to truly live it.....but these are only my foolish thoughts.

The winding roads of life might present us with setbacks and hurtful experiences, yet if we single mindedly persevere and tackle each experience as it arises, we will stay on the yellow brick road, no matter what the surroundings. We will arrive with every step, if we remain "truthful" on the inside, yet in order to continue to arrive, we have to truly take these steps to begin with.

To me personally, learning a language has always seemed like that kind of road...even fluency is not an end in itself....and every mistake one makes, every time one stumbles over grammar and vocabulary, one arrives at exactly that part of the winding road. One must keep on walking through every single setback and success alike, like gathering single drops of dew....in order to be able to one day look at a whole sea... Nothing special is discovered in our practise, but even just letting things be as they are is a non-effort we have to commit ourselves to to truly realise and it.

Question: Can you find any examples in your own life where persevering single mindedly beyond your mere likes and dislikes did bear fruit?


Hans Chudo Mongen