Friday, March 4, 2011

Who Knows What Is Good And What Is Bad

We often think that by taking up a spiritual practice it will produce good actions as opposed to bad. The buddha-dharma however,says this is completely beside the point. The point is that we become aware of when we act out of our intent. By that I mean, we are trying to bring about some kind of desired end. Nature doesn't act with intent. Acting without intent means action out of wholeness, out of seeing the whole. But why not just learn to do good as opposed to bad? Because no solid, unchanging good or bad can be established. In other words good and bad are not absolutes. They are beliefs, judgments, ideas based on limited knowledge and the inclination of our minds.

In April of 2006 I was sitting outside playing with our children. Around 6 pm my wife called us in to eat. Off to the west I noticed some nasty looking storm clouds so I turned on the weather, and as soon as I did I heard you still have time to take cover. No sooner did I get us all to a safe place and covered with a mattress it hit. An F4 tornado. It was over in a flash although at the time it seemed that it would never end. Just like that, everything changed. The little town we lived in was virtually gone, and the house that we had just rented a month earlier destroyed. Our supper was still sitting on the table never to eaten. We where homeless. Everyone we knew would console us, saying what a terrible thing.It wasn't long before we found a nice house (I mean real nice) to rent for dirt cheep. And everyone said wow that's fantastic. Then we found out that I was going to be off work for 6 month while they rebuilt the factory that I worked at. (Which was also hit by the tornado) everyone again consoled us saying "that's terrible what will you ever do. Then the company that I worked for called us and said that their insurance was going to continue to pay us a 40 hour check until the factory reopened. Then everyone said man that's great. Since I was off for 6 months my son, from a previous marriage came to live with us for the summer.

Shortly after that the man that owned the house that we were renting, came and said we would have to move, because he had sold the house. Everyone said what will you ever do. There was a house that we had been looking at, an old farm house built around 1886 that had been for sale for a very long time, it was beautiful. So we contacted the woman that owned it to see if she would be interested in renting to us. She said no why don't you buy it. Well we had no chance of getting a loan at that time and we explained our situation to her. Two days later she called and offered to carry the note. So we bought we bought our first home. And everyone said wow that's great.To make an already long story short. Today we are the founders of the Zen Sukoyaka Youth Academy and the Empty Mind Zen Center for holistic Zen Buddhist studies. Oh and my son that came to live with us for the summer, is still with us. So who knows whats good or bad. Good or bad is never our choice, or even really the issue.


  1. Jizo says: We often think that by taking up a spiritual practice it will produce good actions as opposed to bad..
    That happens when faith is lacking reason... not everytime of course, but often! Now shall I have to consider myself as a "smart pig facing blind sheep"? Sure I'll have to care, because there may be dogs around... And here comes the sarcastic story of human beings divided in pigs, sheep and dogs...
    And as the Monty Pythons were singing: "Always look at the bright side of life!"
    Maybe I'm badly lacking serenity today...

  2. Maybe are "good" and "bad" some kinda sterile absolutes, somewhere out of life. Saying sterile I mean that there's no evolution left if something or someone is good or bad, something like the end of the game... When walking on the path, you go further or you make an U: your choice is better or worst, always relative states, but also always dynamic and thus alive...

  3. "Always remain open and experimentative, always ready to walk a path you have never walked before. Who knows? Even if it proves useless,it will be an experience".

  4. I once heard of our path described as a magical stair way. With no steps in front of us and none behind us and the one we just stepped one quickly disappearing. The only choice we have is to take another step, not knowing where our feet well land. It is only in taking this next step that the next step appears and the one behind us is gone forever.

    Every step we take is a step on a path we have never traveled before. A step we have never taken. A step into now. Over and over again and we soon find, there are on ordinary moments, each breath is different,each sun rise is different, each moment a beautiful and new experience.