Let-Go Is My Only Approach
The first question:
I have been here now for almost two and a half years, but I still feel that something in my life goes basically wrong. Except for short glimpses, I am unable to find any lasting meaning in it. Most of the time I’m hanging in a bottomless, quite frightening, uncomfortable “nowhere.” What is wrong? Please comment.
Prem Gayan, the whole problem is rooted in the desire of attaining a permanent meaning for life. Life is not a problem at all, but we expect things which are against the fundamental law of life and then we are in trouble. Life is constantly changing and it is good that it is constantly changing; that’s its beauty, its splendor. If it were permanent, static, it would be not life but death and it would be utterly boring. It would stink because it would be stagnant. And the mind is constantly asking for something permanent. The mind is the desire for the permanent, and life is impermanence.
Hence if you really want to be blissful you have to live the impermanent life as it is, without any expectation, without any imposition on your part. Flow with life. It changes – you change with it. Why bother about a permanent meaning? What will you do with a permanent meaning?
And meaning exists only when something functions as a means to some other end. Life is not a means to some other end, it is an end unto itself, hence really it cannot have any meaning. That does not mean it is meaningless, it simply means it is transcendental to meaning or no-meaning. Those words are irrelevant.
What is the meaning of a rose flower? And what is the meaning of a sunset? What is the meaning of love? What is the meaning of beauty? There are no meanings because they are not means to anything else. A sunset is simply beautiful just for its own sake. It has no utility, you cannot use it as a commodity. A car has meaning, a machine has meaning, a house has meaning, but what is the meaning of a rose flower? There is no meaning in it, but because there is no meaning in it, it has tremendous beauty. A machine, howsoever meaningful, is never beautiful; it can’t be – it is a commodity, it is utilitarian, it is not poetry.
Life is poetry, life is a song, life is a dance.
Gayan, your very approach is wrong, that’s why you go on missing. You say: “Except for short glimpses, I am unable to find any lasting meaning in it.” Just meditate over those short glimpses. Those glimpses must have happened when you were not seeking for meaning, when you were relaxed, when you had forgotten all about meaning, when you were not concerned about meaning. Then suddenly there was joy, there was bliss.
Excerpted From Walking In Zen, Sitting In Zen CH: 9