During the after-dinner conversation at some friends' house this evening, we talked of life and acceptance of our lot therein, and I was reminded of a comment by Yasutani Roshi's on the koan Mu recorded in the book The Three Pillars of Zen. According to Yasutani, we are each the manifestation of our karmic conditions at any given moment. I take this to mean that in accordance with the forces of karma, our particular situation at any point in time is caused by that moment's conditions, and as those conditions change, we change as well. According to Yasutani:
"What we call life is no more than a procession of transformations. If we do not change, we are lifeless. We grow and age because we are alive. The evidence of our having lived is the fact that we die. We die because we are alive. Living means birth and death. Creation and destruction signify life.
I think Shakespeare got it right when he wrote in Hamlet:"When you truly understand this fundamental principal you will not be anxious about your life or your death. You will then attain a steadfast mind and be happy in your daily life. Even though heaven and earth were turned upside down, you would have no fear. . . If you fall into poverty, live that way without grumbling - then your poverty will not be a burden to you. Likewise, if you are rich, live with your riches. All this is the functioning of buddha-nature. In short, buddha-nature has the quality of infinite adaptability."
Your moment of Zen, delivered by the Bard of Avon.Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.Rosencrantz: Then I guess the whole world is one.Hamlet: Yes, quite a large one, with many cells and dungeons, Denmark being one of the worst.Rosencrantz: We don’t think so, my lord.Hamlet: Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.Rosencrantz: That must be because you’re so ambitious. It’s too small for your large mind.Hamlet: Small? No, I could live in a walnut shell and feel like the king of the universe. The real problem is that I have bad dreams.Guildenstern: Dreams are a sign of ambition, since ambition is nothing more than the shadow of a dream.Hamlet: But a dream itself is just a shadow.Rosencrantz: Exactly. In fact, I consider ambition to be so light and airy that it’s only the shadow of a shadow.Hamlet: Then I guess beggars are the ones with bodies, while ambitious kings and heroes are just the shadows of beggars. Should we go inside? I seem to be losing my mind a bit.Rosencrantz & Guildenstern: We’re at your service, whatever you say.