Definition of time– the continued sequence of existence and events that occurs in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time)
Thich Nhat Hanhspeaks of relative and ultimate truth which elaborates on a moment of time and eternity:
“When we look at the ocean, we see that each wave has a beginning and an end. A wave can be compared with other waves, and we can call it more or less beautiful, higher or lower, longer lasting or less long lasting. But if we look more deeply, we see that a wave is made of water. While living the life of a wave, it also lives the life of water. It would be sad if the wave did not know that it is water. It would think, “Someday, I will have to die. This period of time is my life span, and when I arrive at the shore, I will return to nonbeing.” These notions will cause the wave fear and anguish. We have to help it remove the notions of self, person, living being, and life span if we want the wave to be free and happy.
A wave can be recognized by signs—high or low, beginning or ending, beautiful or ugly. But in the world of the water, there are no signs. In the world of relative truth, the wave feels happy as she swells, and she feels sad when she falls. She may think, “I am high,” or “I am low,” and develop a superiority or inferiority complex. But when the wave touches her true nature—which is water—all her complexes will cease, and she will transcend birth and death.
We become arrogant when things go well, and we are afraid of falling, or being low or inadequate. But these are relative ideas, and when they end, a feeling of completeness and satisfaction arises. Liberation is the ability to go from the world of signs to the world of true nature. We need the relative world of the wave [emphasis mine], but we also need to touch the water, the ground of our being, to have real peace and joy [and this is what so many contemporary people lack]. We shouldn’t allow relative truth to imprison us and keep us from touching absolute truth. Looking deeply into relative truth, we penetrate the absolute. Relative and absolute truths inter-embrace. Both truths, relative and absolute, have a value.” from Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Broadway Books: 1998), 124-125.
If I had to label my spiritual path, Zen Christian comes close to describing it. This Summer I’m scheduled to be “ordained,” first as an Interspecies, Interspiritual Animal Chaplain through Compassion Consortium and later as a lay brother in the Order of Interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition.
Below are two quotes which explain how I see my Zen Christian practice today.
“We enter the path of practice through the door of knowledge, perhaps from a Dharma talk or a book. We continue along the path, and our suffering lessens, little by little. But at some point, all of our concepts and ideas must yield to our actual experience. Words and ideas are only useful if they are put into practice. When we stop discussing things and begin to realize the teachings in our own life, a moment comes when we realize that our life is the path, and we no longer rely merely on the forms of practice. Our action becomes ‘non-action,’ and our practice becomes ‘non-practice.‘” from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (c) Broadway Books, p.122
“Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who lived in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16 and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He was often considered the most influential living figure in the lineage of Lâm Tế (Vietnamese Rinzai) Thiền, and perhaps also in Zen Buddhism as a whole.” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/209574.The_Heart_of_the_Buddha_s_Teaching
Eagerly looking forward to a special day and then life intervened; plans upended. So, now what?
Today’s senryu: Let Me Not Despair
life sucks then I’ll die
or let go and practice love
let me not despair
Reality has a way of “robbing our joy” but we don’t have to surrender to pessimism. Here are four references that informed the senryu above:
First is the continuation of Matthew Fox’ message on how to “move from pessimism to creativity“
“Where true self-love is meager, our love of the world will be meager. “Love others as you love yourself,” advised Jesus. But if our love of self is shallow, the love we put into the world will be also. And the world is so strong in its various misdirected loves that our weak and shallow love will be easily drowned in the energies of that world.” from Rank and Rich on Moving from Pessimism to Creativity, Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox, May 26, 2023 (https://dailymeditationswithmatthewfox.org/2023/05/26/rank-and-rich-on-moving-from-pessimism-to-creativity/)
Second is an Al Jazeera video on how advertising sells us through low self-esteem.
Fox’s message is a synthesis of Otto Rank, Aquinas, Rumi, Meister Eckhart and Julian of Norwich wisdom with the “throat grabbing” hook: “pessimism is a philosophy of hatred that springs from self-hate.” Wow, “must read” or “must listen” for me!