Beliefs and actions

Teaching of Claude É Mon Cannizzo - April 2020

2406 buddhaThere are some questions that Buddha did not answer, and one of them concerns the existence of God. For Buddha, this question was not a fundamental subject. Belief in God is obviously a totally personal question, but nevertheless, it can become a cause of suffering and sometimes even a subject of conflict.

Believers sometimes spend their lives honouring God, praising Him, praying to Him, for themselves and their health, the health of their family or other reasons... However, in spite of this, very often prayers stay unanswered, without result: we fall ill even though we have prayed for health, accidents happen to us even though we have asked for protection, we lose loved ones, sometimes even younger than us...

When misfortune occurs, we are distraught, we don’t accept, or with difficulty, and we say to ourselves: "But why him, why her, or why me...? What have I done to God? »

The suffering is so great that sometimes we reject the existence of God. Sometimes, the situation even leads those who suffer to fall into traps such as alcohol, drugs or other "ways of escaping" and to try to find there a refuge. But in doing so, we ignore the fact that we are only adding suffering to the suffering and that we still won’t find there the peace of mind.

How can we find the right words in these moments to help those who suffer and question their faith, or who blame God? We are facing a person who has lost a loved one or more, or lost everything that he cared about or possessed. We see their distress and, at that moment, talking to them about believing is not necessarily the right time.

In Zen, there is no place for the notion of belief. Although pain is a part of our existence and it is necessary to devote a time to mourning to overcome these moments in life, it is nevertheless important not to stagnate in the depression and to return to the "action of life", in the spirit of the Eightfold Path and the paramita.

After the Fukushima disaster, a man in his seventies lost everything, his family, his friends, his home. Faced with such suffering and not knowing how to cope with it, he took refuge in alcohol. Every day, he had only one thing on his mind: "It would have been better if I, as well…"  One day, he ran into a young man who was doing volunteer work... "I couldn't just stand by and do nothing. Now it's my turn. I want to participate in the reconstruction effort and I want to see smiling faces again, as soon as possible! " Those were the words of this young man with bright eyes and a smile on his face.

Despite his broken heart, the young man's simple and kind words enlightened the old man's mind, because they were the words he needed to find courage and pull himself together. He began to participate, to help. Little by little, this allowed him to ease his pain, sadness and loneliness, all that had caused the loss of his faith. By offering his help to others, he no longer felt lost, and after a while he said: "Nowadays, I am finally looking at my surroundings with new eyes and I am finding the desire to live again."

In his teaching, Dogen Zenji tells us:
“A good deed is the full implementation of Dharma. It is universally beneficial for him that doeth it, and for him that gain from it. "

We need to understand that compassion and altruistic deeds are born of "our pure thoughts" and do not require any prayer or ourselves waiting for them to be answered. (Mushotoku).

The existence of God is not the issue. But if there is a God, he is by no means in any obligation to answer us, under the pretext that we pray to him or implore him. There is no negotiation to be made with him. This is not politics...

Regarding his own teachings, Buddha said:
"Don't follow my teaching blindly, experience it by yourself.”

The teaching of Zen Buddhism is very clear... It's up to us to do things. There is no belief, no fate and therefore no fatalism. This makes us responsible for our lives and thus also for our actions, words and thoughts. Dharma is everywhere, in all phenomena, happy or unhappy. It is up to each one of us to invest ourselves together and rightly, in other words with wisdom, compassion and altruism!

Is it God who is at the origin of what is happening? Earthquakes, tsunamis, viruses, or other disasters or "curses"? Is it to punish us? This is just belief and superstitions.

Faith can undoubtedly help believers. But neither faith nor beliefs, without the right action, the right words and the right thoughts do make things happen, they do not make the world change! … even if one wants to believe it.

In these times of confinement, and with deconfinement in perspective, the majority of people say that things must change. Indeed, this is also my opinion. But we say that now, sitting deep in our armchair, with a burning desire to regain the freedom that has been put on hold.

When the time comes, what will we do to make things change? Will we believe that things will change on their own or will we do what it takes to make them change? We can - of course – at the same time believe and do ...

The question is open ...

Take care of yourself. A little more patience ...

In gasshô: Claude É Mon Cannizzo.


Tags: Claude Emon Cannizzo

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