Do You Still Suffer After 25 Years Of Zen Practice?

meditation suffering wisdom

Question: Do you still suffer from time to time despite 25 years of practicing?

What do we mean by suffering? People can have different definitions of the word “suffering”. I always say if the truth appears and we’re holding it or trying to push it away or adding something to it, that is the definition of suffering. It can also mean we are filtering the truth of the world with our own view. So, do I experience that? Yes!

If we are talking about suffering being old age sickness and death, there is an interesting story about that. Right before Zen Master Seung Sahn died, a monk asked him, “sir, before you pass, please tell us how we can escape old age sickness and death.”

Zen Master Seung Sahn yelled back, “we are old age sickness and death!” That is our human condition. How do we use the truth of old age, sickness, and death to become a complete human being and help this world? I think that’s a very interesting question.

Usually we experience some kind of result and we don’t know why it happened. Maybe we experience anger, sadness, or even joy, but we don’t see the entire chain of cause and effect that led to the experience. That is because we are not paying attention to our thinking. We are not paying attention to our words, our actions, not paying attention to our habits. We fall asleep and all of that leads to suffering.

How can meditation practice can help us with all of this? What are we even doing during sitting meditation? We are paying attention to everything that is arising. Not pushing away anything and not holding anything. We’re not adding anything to the truth of this moment, and we are not taking anything away. We are letting go of everything, just seeing everything clearly as it is appearing in the moment. If we can do that while we are sitting, we can do it in our lives from moment to moment. Then our suffering transforms and becomes the wisdom we can use to help this world.


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