A few years ago my daughter piped up from the backseat, which is where children of her age are prone to do their piping.
“Mommy, if you ever write another book please make it not about Zen.”
I asked why.
“Because the whole idea of Zen is bogus.”
I don’t put this little story in the category of Kids Say the Darnedest Things, although they do. I put it in the category of Ear-Splitting Truth.
It’s true: the whole idea of Zen is bogus. The whole idea of anything is bogus. Ideas are bogus. Occasionally useful, but not real. I promised her I wouldn’t ever write a book about Zen. There’s plenty of that without me piping up from the front seat. And when I get carried away I miss my exit.
These days there is legitimate concern about the future of Buddhism because of all the things we seem to be doing wrong. We’re not raising up the next generation of Buddhists, for example. We’re not appealing enough, modern enough, accessible enough, diverse enough, or Western enough. There’s quite a bit of finger pointing about our systemic failures.
I, too, doubt the future of our institutions and systems. We are living in a degenerate age. Social, religious, economic and political systems are collapsing left and right. The conceptual frameworks and ideologies that we thought would live forever are kaput. Then I remember that it is always the degenerate age, because that’s what all –isms do: rise up and settle back down in an endless cycle of birth and death called samsara.
How can we keep Dharma alive? I like to remember that oft-quoted instruction, “Do not mistake the moon for the finger pointing at the moon.” Anyone can jab his or her finger in the air, but who can walk on the moon?
Practice and you’ll find out that there’s no two ways about it. Buildings can crumble and institutions collapse, but Dharma never dies. Take heart and keep going.
For more of Karen Maezen Miller on SunSpace, click here.