A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died. Hakuin answered 'How am I supposed to know?' 'How do you not know? You're a Zen master!' exclaimed the samurai. 'Yes, but not a dead one,' Hakuin answered.
James: What Master Hakuin understood was that so long as this samurai was obsessed with what happens after death, (if anything) he might as well already be dead. In clinging to worries about death, he is dead to the present moment. Therefore, the samurai is not able to experience and enjoy the vibrant life that is already unfolding around him!! Why concern yourself with an existence after this one if you're not even experiencing the current one?!! This is why Zen doesn't focus too intently on afterlife.
It advises people to live each moment as though it were their last, which leads us to live a life of greater awareness of our actions; and that causes less suffering for us and those around us. In this way, we will live a healthier spiritual life to where any concerns or fears about a possible afterlife will naturally fade away.
PHOTO: The altar where I meditate at home.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Wednesday, September 07, 2011
A monster 21-foot (6.4-metre) saltwater crocodile, believed to be the biggest ever captured, has been trapped in the southern Philippines after a spate of fatal attacks, officials said Tuesday.
James: The giant croc weighs in over a ton!! Yet, what interested me most was that the people in the village chose not to kill the beast despite its violent past. They decided instead to build a nature park to include the crocodile to increase eco-tourism to the area and protect a species that has been over-hunted in the area. I applaud their efforts to make a tragic situation less tragic for all involved. There are unfortunately a lot of people in this world who would have killed that animal and displayed it like a grotesque trophy, so I bow in deep gratitude to those villagers in the Philippines. May their example lead to better and better treatment of animals in this world.
We are reminded by the Buddha that we are interconnected to all living beings, so animals are no different than our cousins. Thus, when ever possible they should be treated with the same compassion and care that one would show a human being. Sadly, however, some society's still allow the death penalty in certain criminal cases--including, unfortunately, my country of the United States. So, the plight of a misunderstood carnivore, such as the crocodile, is even less of a concern. Hopefully, however, we can continue to raise awareness that we can protect ourselves from dangerous animals without killing them all.