What to Fear

“Most men are born drunk and die while still asleep.”

I don’t know who said it. Some Zen master. I heard it long ago and never forgot it. Could it be that reading this struck terror in your heart as it did in mine? Here’s a related quote (maybe from someone in the newspaper?)

“Unsuccessful peoples’ greatest fear is failure; successful peoples’ greatest fear is regret.”

I would like to be bold and die with no regrets. I would like to see the truth of things. What’s holding me back? Nothing. No one. But like most people, I secretly see myself as weak, lazy and stupid…and liable to die with many regrets. So I am determined to take just one small step. And then another after that. What more should we expect of ourselves except that? The next step forward. And to fear the truly fearful: to “die while still asleep.”

The problem in most Zen groups is the problem in any group: misdirected priorities. You are not there to do good deeds. You are not there to sing or wear robes or cook or attend religious services or to take vows or to become a vegetarian. You are not there to contribute to building projects. You are not there to “fit in.” You are not there looking for psychoanalysis or pity or to feel loved or to gain the respect of others. Maybe you are, in fact, doing all of those things but none of those things is the primary reason you are in a Zen group. Whether you know it or not, you are there to disassemble your current false world, and then disassemble your false self, the one giving you loads of trouble time after time, and to wake up. You are now in the ideal position to do this. What does the meal gatha say? “Human life is hard to attain, and the Dharma is rarely to be met with.” You have the intelligence to be reading these words, right now, today, so you have those two important factors in your favor. What you need to know and who you need to meet will come to you. Maybe not in the direction you expect, but that’s not a matter for fear. The black & white mice of time nibble away.  Make one resolution: to be honest with yourself & others. Honesty breeds courage.

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