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Lions Roar : March 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2007 91 awash together, bound in such intricate and binding reciprocity that if anything moves, all moves. An old Chinese story tells of a monk who came to Zen Master Ta Sui with a question about a teaching he received from a tradi- tional Buddhist cosmology telling of a conflagration that sweeps through at the end of the eon and destroys the universe. This disastrous prediction is a metaphor of consequences carried out on a colossal scale, like Christianity’s second coming of Christ or the eventual heat death of the sun. In the face of universal destruction, the monk wonders, “Is this one destroyed or not?” Ta Sui said, “It is destroyed.” The monk said, “If so, then this goes along with it.” Ta Sui said, “It goes along with it.” Perhaps the monk thought something could be salvaged, not carried along in the oth- erwise universal sweep of events. He wondered if perhaps just this one— just this particular event, this person, this mo- ment, this one memory, this single truth—might perhaps be exempt from the common conflagra- tion. Ta Sui tells him that it all goes together. I touch the wistful heart of that moment where life spills into emptiness and the monk says for himself, “If so, then this goes along with it.” It goes along with it. The consequence of my morning’s re- mark to the clerk at the checkout stand will be carried along to who knows where? Perhaps it will radiate from person to person as any number of shoppers pass through with their purchases. Maybe the clerk himself will carry it home at lunch or haul it into the kitchen after work. The dispersal of consequence is without known limit, as endless as the verse says it is beginning- less. It’s not hard to imagine that my casual morning comment to the clerk at the local co-op will someday go streaming among the stars on its dark flight toward destinations unknown to me. The verse of contrition I was given to chant so many years ago has had consequences of its own. It has carried me beyond a simple “I’m sorry” to an appreciation of the circumstances in which we all live, the ways in which we try and fail, and try and fail again. I’m a partner now in the brotherhood and sisterhood of inevitable error and recovery. Our human lives are “ten thou- sand beautiful mistakes,” as the old masters liked to point out. If my mistakes, willful or unintended, have cost anyone the price of pain or distress, I’m truly sorry. I would like to be free of wrong- doing, but I’ve not found that possible in life as I know it. I take consolation in acknowledging the mistakes I’ve made, saying to the world, “This is what I’ve done. And this is what I am, no bet- ter and no worse than you see me now. I trust you will allow for that and let me move on.” ♦ I would like to be free of wrongdoing, but I’ve not found that possible in life as I know it. I take consolation in acknowledging the mistakes I’ve made. To order, contact: Clear Light Publishing 888-253-2747 www.clearlightbooks.com ISBN 1-57416-088-5 To contact the author: www.JaneBay.com LOVE & LOSS A Story About Life, Death, and Rebirth A Memoir by Jane Bay “The essential question of spiritual life could be expressed as ‘How is it that some people emerge from suffering with great faith and compassion, while others remain feeling broken and alone?’ LOVE & LOSS is a beautiful exploration of that question, and a healing testament to the power of undying love.” -- Sharon Salzberg author, Faith “Jane Bay’s book will be a balm for anyone whose heart still aches from a profound loss.” -- Daniel Goleman – author, Social Intelligence