Friday, December 25, 2009

Zen Buddhism El Paso / Juarez--the end of 2009

Our schedule for the rest of the year: Tomorrow, Saturday the 26th, we will be sitting as usual--330pm, 711 Robinson, but next week, the 2nd day of 2010, we will not be sitting. I hope to see you all tomorrow, but if not, I hope you are all having a wonderful holidays, full of joy and reflection, and I hope that in the New Year we will all sit strong and live our lives mindfully.

Joshu Sasaki Roshi once told the story of Siddhartha’s birth--the baby born to a King who would one day become the Buddha--and in the telling he told about the prophesies and miracles that surrounded the birth of this very special baby. And when he was finished telling the story he giggled and said, “Well, of course, it didn’t happen like this.” He paused then, and a few seconds later added, “But let’s see what the story is telling us.” Then for at least an hour he talked about the very human and spiritual meanings that are the foundation of that story.

Every Christmas I remember what the Roshi said--“let’s see what the story is telling us”--and it has long helped me think about and consider the story of the birth, life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Our culture here along the U.S./Mexico border, as well as our so-called Western civilization, is saturated with the story. It’s part of the way we think because it’s part of our mythos (in the old sense of that word) and our language. As practitioners of Zen I believe it’s of no use to argue with the story, just as it’s of really no use to accept the story as fact. It’s best to simply listen to the story and to sit with its meaning--the birth of Jesus, his teaching, his death and resurrection. What does this mean to us? Individually and as a people? In Zen our only fundamentalism is sitting Zazen, the place where the gate swings open between the relative and absolute worlds.

I wish you all a Happy Holidays. And for the New Year, please join me in lighting a candle and a stick of incense for our friends and neighbors--indeed, our sisters and brothers--in Juárez. May the New Year bring them peace and justice.

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