Posted inBasic Buddhism, Henry's Messages

What Matters Most

August 8, 2015

All Zen asks of us is that we become quiet and still with ourselves, and find out who we really are.


I would like to urge each of you to look into your heart and ask yourself what matters most in this brief span of years we have been granted. It won’t be long before each of us is shuffling off this mortal coil…

Some ancient worthies have said that only three questions really matter:

1. Who am I?
2. Why am I here?
 What should I do?

Zen can settle all three of these questions for us, in a very thorough way. Zen gives us a means to address the “great matter” of life and death. I don’t know if there is as clear and direct a way to resolve these questions as sitting on a Zen cushion and breathing Mu in the quiet depths of an organized Zen retreat.

Whatever our practice is, we plant our consciousness in it. The practice is the soil and our sense of self is the seed. As we sit we allow it to plant itself in the soil of our practice, and gradually be taken over by the practice, until there is only practice. At that point we may realize that what we were looking for all along was never absent.

The path is here and now. All of us have been blessed and fortunate enough to find it. Whether we actually walk down it or not is up to us…

All Zen asks of us is that we become quiet and still with ourselves, and find out who we really are.

There is no better way to do this than to support one another with the special brief time we set aside for allowing our practice to come first for once. This time is sesshin. It’s over in a flash, but it can make all the difference in our lives, and in the lives of those around us. The whole world stands to benefit from the sesshin that we make together.

Please be generous with yourself.

With love,


Written by Henry Shukman, from our newsletter archives.

Image Credit: Buddha, by Unsplash, CC0 Public Domain, from
Featured Image Credit: Heart, by shadowless Phoenix,  cc0 Public Domain, from

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