Friday, May 23, 2008

Seeing Fault in People and Institutions

Faced with a decision to spend time with his dying father during his last days or attending a conference of a religious organization, the man says his final good-byes and leaves for the conference. We know this because the organization published this man's story in their own bulletin summarizing the meeting, and in my own case because I read Brad Warner's post containing his own commentary, HARDCORE ZEN: Fuck Institutionalized Zen.

What more is there to say about this matter? Nothing---unless you are prone to see things that may or may not be there. Tell me, when reading this account, did you wonder:
  • Why did this man choose to attend the conference over sitting with his dying father?
  • Why did he chose to write about his choice and submit it to the organization?
  • Why did the organization publish the story so prominently?
Did you pass judgment on the man? Did you pass judgment on the organization? Why?

I know a particular Korean Buddhist monk and Zen master who enjoys viewing the Bible with an eye toward what he sees as the koans within. Experience suggests that this is one of his most favored passages:
As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62 (NIV)

I once sent an email after the fact apologizing that I could not attend a class because something came up---my family needed me. Truth be told, the odds are that the monk would have cited this passage at least once during that class! Regardless, the Zen master responded:
Harmony comes from centering wisdom.
Twilight comes from old man's worry.

How can this be? Tell me, do you see a contradiction? I assert that there is none...

Organizations. Causes. Decisions. What are these things anyway?

your circumstances, see clearly and be free.

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