Monday, May 30, 2005

A little peace and quiet

One of the things that drives people to the practice of Zen is a desire
for a little peace and quiet. Just add a little here somewhere to my
life. We all would like a little peace, a little break ...some moments
of calm in this storm tossed life. Please..just a little peace and quiet
is all I am asking for. Just let me sit down here for a little break,
and then I can go back to my life a little refreshed.

The problem is peace is just a relative thing. In order for there to be
this peace, there has to be a conflict for it to be relative to. We
cannot create peace all by itself. The moment we begin seeking peace, we
define where we are as conflict.

I remember when I was taking some training in crisis management. The
instructor asked "when does something become an emergency?"...the answer
was when we define it as an emergency. When we begin to seek peace we
have declared where we are to be a conflict. A conflict takes two sides
or positions to happen. The way out of a conflict is for one of us to
refuse to see it as conflict. We must be peace. We cannot get peace
granted to us by another.

The idea of peace arises in the same instant the idea of conflict
arises, because they are only relative states, they only exist in
relation to each other. The opposite of war is peace. If we wish to have
an end to conflict we also end peace.

The way to find what we truly seek, which is an end to conflict is not
to seek peace. It is to find what truly is....and what truly is is
neither peace nor conflict until we bring these ideas to it. We need to
stop thinking in terms of peace and war and conflict and detante. We
need to understand that there is no peace without war.

Also we need to understand the nature of our life. Everything that lives
grows, everything that grows conflicts. The grass is at war with the
weeds the weeds contend with each other for the space to grow. The food
we eat is finessed from some starving child in India. (either by our
government or theirs). Capitalism is conflict by its very nature. The
argument is that it is better for children to die in Iraq then it is for
children to die here.....conflict. One of the results of peace is
stagnation. Death. We must kill at least a plant to survive.

So rather than seeking the elusive dream of peace, better to seek a way
to be at ease in the midst of conflict.

So instead of seeking peace, perhaps what we need to seek is an end to
our suffering from what is an essential part of our life. (death too is
an essential part of our life). So how do we end our suffering? ..Did
the Buddha suggest we ask everyone else to stop conflict to end our
suffering from war?...No. Did he suggest we march on Washington asking
our government to give us peace?.....No...Did he suggest we ask others
to please leave us alone?...No.....He suggested we look inside for the
end to our suffering. He suggested the way to end our suffering from all
this conflict around us was the eightfold path. I have already spoken
about one simple way to bring the eightfold path into the reality of our
lives, that is to sit. It is my suggestion that if one is suffering
from the actions of another, or the condition of another, one finds
their way to the eightfold path. One place easy to find the beginning of
this path is the nearest chair. Once your feet have found the path that
is right there where you are, then one can step out on the path as it
appears before you. When you are on the path, suffering ceases. This is
not to say that the world around changes to peace and light. This does
not mean no one is sick or no one dies. It simply means when you do the
right thing as defined in the eightfold path you do not suffer.
Suffering arises from wrong thinking, wrong action, wrong livelihood
etc. I would suggest blaming others for our suffering is wrong thinking.
I would suggest that railing at life for our misery is wrong thinking
and wrong action.

I think those who think Buddhism or zazen is an escape from our
responsibility for the way we are are wrong. I think Buddhism is the
most responsible way there is. The first step to ending our suffering is
to acknowledge that our suffering is in fact our fault. It arises from
our wrong action our distraction, our ignorance. There is no one else
to blame here, and no one else to save us. There is nothing I can do to
end another's suffering other then show them a way to find the path.
Then they must either walk the eightfold path themselves, or suffer. I
cannot drive them to the path, I cannot force them to the path, nor can
I suffer over long for their failure to even look for the way to end
their suffering. In the end it is our suffering and our pain that
defines us. When we give up our suffering we have to give up our
definition of ourselves as suffering beings. Some of us are not ready to
make that step yet. This is a sad truth. Yet even here when our
compassionate heart is breaking, it is not right thinking to wish for
different way. This is the way, the reality of our lives is where we
have to live our lives. There is no other choice. It is not right
thinking to keep looking for a way out, when the only way out is

Be Well