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March 12, 2013

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Lu

But since we are going to vanish soon, what is the point of having a "true job" and seeking out what that is? I wonder if our job isn't just to do human-things like the cat doing cat-things and the goldfinch doing goldfinch-things, all the rest being delusion. Where is the urgency?

P.S. I am not trying to be contrary. This is sort of the essential question for me, and I'm really asking it. It can be taken as rhetorical, or not. I'm not really sure which way I mean it. Thanks for the space to ask it.

Barry Briggs

Lu, your questions are good ones and appropriate. When I read your comment, I immediately remembered questions that Zen Master Seung Sahn used to ask: "Why do you get up every day?" "Why do you eat?"

Getting up and eating are ordinary human-things. But if we eat only for ourselves, then we're no different than cats and goldfinches. On the other hand, if we eat so that we can have energy to help ease the suffering in the world . . . well, that is truly human. Only human beings can have that job. That's how I understand it, anyway.

Thanks for your good questions.

Lu

Thank you for your thoughtful response, Barry. I will think about it. I am troubled by the question I asked, but your response--as big and as small in scope as it is--is really something helpful to try to take in. In my focus on myself, I had almost forgotten about the rest of the world (for the moment). Thank you again!

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  • Zen teachers sometimes use the Ten Ox Herding Pictures to describe the path of awakening. Within this metaphorical framework, the ox symbolizes the secretive, unruly human mind.

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