04 April 2009

True Meaning of Zen and of Life

The students at No Wind Monastery were flabbergasted!  They could hardly believe what they had just heard.  Master Blusime, the greatest Zen Master since Dogen Zenji had just revealed what they never thought they would hear.  In their traditional morning congregation Master Blumise had said, "My most beloved family, I really need your help.  Yesterday evening a guest at our renowned monastery asked me a very good question.  He asked me, ‘What is the True Meaning of Zen?’ and asked if I could summarize it for him in just 3 words.  My loved ones, please help me as I don’t know what to reply.  I have asked the visitor to wait till the end of the week and then promised him my response.  So please, by the end of the week, in 3 words give me the definition of Zen.  The definition of Zen is also the definition of life.  I look to you for help in this great crisis that has befallen me and the reputation of our great institution is at stake.  Please save us from humiliation."

Master Blumise had just confessed that he had been stumped by a question!  That he did not know the answer and that too, to such a fundamental question.  Perhaps he was loosing his mind, maybe senility was setting in, maybe this was a test, maybe he was no longer enlightened and had fallen back into Maya (illusion), the rumors were thick in the air.  All the students had their take and all of them also saw this as a great opportunity to shine — to be the hero — to be the one who would save the day — all the students save one — our wise monk Tara.  Midst all the excitement and gossip stood Tara, every so often just having a big laugh whenever the conversation was breached in her presence.  She laughed and laughed all week in some secret delight, while the others mulled and mused the answer to this most interesting question.

Finally, the week ended and as requested by Master Blumise all the answers were written and submitted.  They were to be read out after the morning breakfast in the Great Hall.  The monks were anxious and excited… all but Tara, who continued to enjoy her private joke.  Some monks, irritated by her mysterious behavior, finally approached her and inquired into the reason for her weird demeanor. 

"The monastery is in trouble, Master Blumise has confessed he can’t answer the question of the visitor, this is a very serious situation for us and we have all worked very hard to solve this puzzle, but all week we have not seen you make any effort.  All you do is laugh and giggle constantly.  What is so funny?"
Tara, though, did not reply and shrugging her shoulders made off toward the Great Hall for the answer reading ceremony.

All is One:    Wrong
All is Nothing:    Wrong
Just be Yourself:    Wrong
Follow Your Heart:    Wrong
All is illusion:    Wrong
All is Love:    Wrong
Be Here Now:    Wrong
I am God:    Wrong
Zen is Zen:    Wrong
I am nobody:    Wrong
Bliss, Being, Consciousness:    Wrong
I am That:    Wrong
All is Mind:    Wrong
All is Emptiness:    Wrong
All is Buddha:    Wrong
All are Enlightened:    Wrong 
Tick Tack Toe:    Wrong

Then Finally….
I Don’t Know:    RIGHT

Tara had realized that Master Blumise was right all along when he said that the answer to the Question, "What is the True Definition of Zen?" was "I Don’t Know."  She also knew that the great master was far from loosing his mind.  Master Blumise bowed to Tara with a blissful smile for her right answer and Tara bowed back utterly grateful to her teacher for sharing his wisdom and love.

The True Meaning of Zen is also the True Meaning of Life.  If you can understand this answer completely you will understand all there is to understand.  You will understand the heart of Zen, you will understand the heart of meditation, you will understand what all the great teachers have been trying to teach mankind over the centuries.

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