Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Infinite Benevolence of Life

Sunday July 29 we will meet at my office to discuss the idea of being perfectly protected and sheltered by life. Life is infinitely benevolent and kind. This idea may sound bizarre, yet clear seeing of what is reveals it to be true. Life can also seem cruel and painful, with many difficult experiences. Let’s question this notion of infinite benevolence together. Here is a quotation from the recently deceased Japanese Zen Master Tangen Roshi: "You too are perfectly protected. It just isn’t obvious to you. You are receiving all the care, protection and guidance and love of all the universe. You just haven’t been able to see it yet, but you will."

Tangen Roshi's story is remarkable, to say the least. He is particularly interesting to me because he was a pivotal influence and support for my teacher, Roshi Philip Kapleau when Kapleau was a new Zen student, trying to survive at the incredibly demanding monastery Hosshin-ji of Zen Buddhist teacher Harada Sogaku Roshi:

They became lifelong friends. Tangen died in March of this year. The article below is a teisho, or talk from no mind, given by Tangen in 2000. 

We generally believe without question that we are in charge of our life. While it may be useful, even necessary to act as if we are in charge, so many events intrude to challenge this belief. Normally, we ignore as much as possible these events since they challenge the core of our identity, sense of safety and world view. All deep spiritual practice eventually requires the radical questioning of every notion of self-control we have developed. To progress on the spiritual path, it is necessary to look deeply into the question: Who is really in charge here? In the June 24th talk on Ramana Maharshi and the koan Who Am I?, we discussed the importance of deconstructing the notion of a permanent, enduring, fixed self-identity. To put it bluntly, if 'I' am not real in the way I once thought, then who or what could possibly be in control of my life? This is a real question. What is your answer?

In this talk, we will consider Tangen Roshi's experiences and his observations about the meaning and purpose of life. On three occasions, he faced certain death, and yet escaped largely unscathed. Were these 'escapes' simply random, blind luck? What can we learn from this celebrated Zen Master? 

Here is another article from the online journal Buddhism now:

If you would like to attend, please RSVP as space is very limited.

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