This Zen or Chan tradition is at root a response to suffering, sentient being suffering, suffering in all forms. The response is summed up in the first ennobling truth – there is suffering (dukkha) – and the first bodhisattva vow: Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to free them (or I vow to save them all). On the surface, this sounds like mission impossible. But it’s already going on.
The vow points to the absolute capacity of this world where one is all, and all is one: the real world. Now. Nothing outside it. Already resolved. And, we have work to do, help to offer, hearts to transform. Starting with our own heart.
There’s an exchange from the sayings of Joshu that speaks to this:
A monk asked Joshu, When times of great difficulty visit us, how should we greet them?According to one translation,
Joshu says, Welcome.
How do we face times of great difficulty with equanimity and openness, freedom and compassion? With practice, our hearts become more tender, porous, transparent to the equanimity of things as they are. Over time, we may come to sense the boundlessness that is intrinsic to what we are. And in an unguarded moment, whatever divide we imagine in the great welcome of this world – any last thread of separation – may slip away. It never was there. We find ourselves at home, free to be and free to offer our lives for the wellbeing of the world.