Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Be Ordinary (Buddhism: A Series, Part 6)

In Nothing To Do: Nowhere To Go, Thich Nhat Hanh presents and comments on the teachings of Master Linji, a 9th century Zen master. Linji's teachings are profound in that they are so relevant to the harried lives we live today.

One section that particularly resonated with me highlights a teaching where Master Linji relates stories of two people who are trapped. The first stands on the peak of a lone mountain with no other peaks to leap to. The second stands at a crossroads, confused about which direction to take. The teachings highlight that if we can't succeed in such a moment, we won't succeed in the next. That if we can't be happy on that lone peak, we won't be happy were we to reach the valley below.

Another section that really rang true for me focused on being happy with being ordinary. Linji spoke of being a "businessless" person who strives to be only what they are -- living in a joyful and relaxed way, content with yourself. Instead of wishing we were wealthy, famous, or respected, we should focus on being content with the present moment. Much of what we do is in hopes of some sort of recognition, approval, or effect. For Master Linji this would be a mistake. Instead, it would be better to dwell in the present moment and not get caught up in the desire to leave your mark or receive the praise of others.