Jesus’s journey from suffering on the cross to death to resurrection provides a good example for how to transform suffering into awakening. Crucifixion, death by torture, is an extreme example of suffering. Death is an extreme example of acceptance, of giving in to the inevitability of circumstances. Physical resurrection from the grave is an extreme example of awakening. Sometimes it is helpful to have extreme examples to point out a more moderate path.
In Zen we are fortunate to have to opportunity to resurrect ourselves constantly. We begin by noticing that we are suffering, that we are on the cross. We recognize our inherent divinity or basic goodness. We understand that we don’t want to be on the cross and we don’t deserve to be on the cross. As we learn to accept our circumstances, which include our experience of suffering, we can see into the nature of our suffering. We can see into the nature of suffering. At that point we give up our resistance and experience a peaceful, living death. As we continue to live our life with this realization, we experience resurrection.
Once we learn to transform our suffering and practice resurrection in every moment, we can help others learn to work with their suffering and their minds to experience their own transformation. When we remember our basic goodness, we naturally feel compassion for everybody as they bear their crosses. Happy Easter.
There is the Truth, and there is talking about the truth. The history of the world is a story. The life of Buddha, the life of Jesus, the life of Mohamed are all stories about people who tried to interpret the Truth. Once an experience is written down it is a story, it is not the Truth. If you try to convey how an apple tastes you can talk about flavor, texture, good or bad, but only you know how that apple tasted to you. That experience is lost on the rest of us. We can experience your words but we will forever wonder just how that apple tasted.
If you want to know the Truth, live your life. That is your truth. Your thoughts, feelings and sensations are little bits of the Truth speaking to you. Listen, watch, wonder.
In religion there are gods. Buddha is just a person. Jesus was also a person, but people think of him as a god. Buddha was an explorer and a teacher. He explored himself to find the root of his suffering. When he found it, he taught other people how to find it in themselves. Buddhists come in many forms. You do not have to be a Buddhist to learn from Buddha. If you suffer, Buddha offers some practical ways to ease your suffering.
People’s ideas about religion sometimes get in the way of understanding a more basic truth. Religions compete for the right to describe the truth. The truth is that the Truth exists beyond all religions and philosophies. There is a way that things are. Things are a certain way. Something is happening. We are all witness to that something happening. We are all a part of what is happening. What is actually happening is difficult to comprehend. As we all try to comprehend what is happening it is helpful to look at different perspectives. Buddha offers a perspective.
To learn from Buddha you do not have to reject the ideas of your own religion. The only idea you may have to reject is that you cannot learn from Buddha. As you explore your relationship to the Truth, some of your ideas about religion, love and life will be discarded. If you follow a Buddhist path you will come to the path with ideas about Buddha and Buddhism. As you learn, grow and explore, these ideas will change. As you grow closer to the Truth, it will help you drop ideas that cause you and others harm.
Nobody, not Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Bob Marley or Albert Einstein, can give you the Truth. You must experience it for yourself. Religions are helpful and also counterproductive. It’s up to you to determine the Truth. When you know the Truth, you will know.
When we fall in love with somebody and that person breaks our heart, we learn to regret love. We learn to fear love. We learn to guard ourselves against love. Clearly, that is a mistake.
As we distance ourselves from love lost, we will not regret love. When enough time has passed, we will remember the experience of love. We will remember parts of the people we loved with fondness. The love that we experienced endures. The pain and regret that we experienced fades.
When you lose love, it hurts. The love you expressed feels wasted. The person you loved seems unworthy. Yet you loved. That love moved you. That love changed you. That love taught you. That love continues to teach you and will always teach you. Well done.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Alan Watts tells us to love our enemies as our enemies, because enemies help us to grow. Sometimes we love our enemies naturally, because we love them before they become our enemies. In loving your enemy you achieve one of the highest spiritual ideals. Let’s not split hairs over the order that things occur.
There is no need to regret love. You can regret loss, but love is time well spent.