True Meaning of Zen and of Life… In Just 3 Words
True Meaning of Life
The students at No Wind Monastery were flabbergasted! They could hardly believe what they had just heard. Master Blusime, the greatest Zen Master since Dogen Zenji had just revealed what they never thought they would hear. In their traditional morning congregation Master Blumise had said, “My most beloved family, I really need your help. Yesterday evening a guest at our renowned monastery asked me a very good question. He asked me, ‘What is the True Meaning of Zen?’ and asked if I could summarize it for him in just 3 words. My loved ones, please help me as I don’t know what to reply. I have asked the visitor to wait till the end of the week and then promised him my response. So please, by the end of the week, in 3 words give me the definition of Zen. The definition of Zen is also the definition of life. I look to you for help in this great crisis that has befallen me and the reputation of our great institution is at stake. Please save us from humiliation.”
Master Blumise had just confessed that he had been stumped by a question! That he did not know the answer and that too, to such a fundamental question. Perhaps he was loosing his mind, maybe senility was setting in, maybe this was a test, maybe he was no longer enlightened and had fallen back into Maya (illusion), the rumors were thick in the air. All the students had their take and all of them also saw this as a great opportunity to shine — to be the hero — to be the one who would save the day — all the students save one — our wise monk Tara. Midst all the excitement and gossip stood Tara, every so often just having a big laugh whenever the conversation was breached in her presence. She laughed and laughed all week in some secret delight, while the others mulled and mused the answer to this most interesting question.
Finally, the week ended and as requested by Master Blumise all the answers were written and submitted. They were to be read out after the morning breakfast in the Great Hall. The monks were anxious and excited… all but Tara, who continued to enjoy her private joke. Some monks, irritated by her mysterious behavior, finally approached her and inquired into the reason for her weird demeanor.
“The monastery is in trouble, Master Blumise has confessed he can’t answer the question of the visitor, this is a very serious situation for us and we have all worked very hard to solve this puzzle, but all week we have not seen you make any effort. All you do is laugh and giggle constantly. What is so funny?”
Tara, though, did not reply and shrugging her shoulders made off toward the Great Hall for the answer reading ceremony.
All is One: Wrong
All is Nothing: Wrong
Just be Yourself: Wrong
Follow Your Heart: Wrong
All is illusion: Wrong
All is Love: Wrong
Be Here Now: Wrong
I am God: Wrong
Zen is Zen: Wrong
I am nobody: Wrong
Bliss, Being, Consciousness: Wrong
I am That: Wrong
All is Mind: Wrong
All is Emptiness: Wrong
All is Buddha: Wrong
All are Enlightened: Wrong
Tick Tack Toe: Wrong
I Don’t Know: RIGHT
Tara had realized that Master Blumise was right all along when he said that the answer to the Question, “What is the True Definition of Zen?” was “I Don’t Know.” She also knew that the great master was far from loosing his mind. Master Blumise bowed to Tara with a blissful smile for her right answer and Tara bowed back utterly grateful to her teacher for sharing his wisdom and love.
The True Meaning of Zen is also the True Meaning of Life. If you can understand this answer completely you will understand all there is to understand. You will understand the heart of Zen, you will understand the heart of meditation, you will understand what all the great teachers have been trying to teach mankind over the centuries.
I can explain this answer in great detail, but instead let me suggest another way for this insight to explode in you. Can you right now, absolutely, sincerely, actually come to the point where you can say “I don’t know” to the question “What is the purpose of life?” Which is just another way of asking “What is the Meaning of Life or Zen?” If you can come to that point where you are have no answer to offer, the mind will have nothing to pursue. As long as you think you know what the answer is, think you know what is important, think you know what is worthwhile, think you know what to do to get where you think you need to go, you will chase. As long as you chase, you will never find. Can you drop the apple and not take the next bite? Heaven is waiting…
:-D. Great to hear you enjoyed this article. It is one of my favorites.
It’s the last time I nag the children when they say “I don’t know”, he he he
But in all seriousness, it was a thought provoking article and one very much in tune with my beliefs.
I like this one quite a bit. A great deal of my study has been letting go of the need to be certain and the need to understand (as well as the assumption that all can be intellectually known and understood). Just that acceptance creates a significant place of peace, particularly when I maintain the practice.
But not surprisingly, occasionally I need to be reminded…;^)… so thank you!
Great insights… and for the answer to your question above, well…. “I don’t know :-D.”
Thanks for adding to the discussion.
Why can’t we all just say “I don’t know “, today? It’s a 21st century epidemic, that we feel we have to have the answers, everytime! How refreshing to hear the truth, so eloquently put forward! Stop chasing, stop trying to figure it all out, start being here, now, thats enough!
peace and love to all, thankyou.
The very concept gives one, freedom to live freely,in a care free atmosphere and “WHAT IF” fear dissappears. One can just live. I like it.
I like even the flow of your words… I shall let them take me where they may.
When the disciplines of Zen have no objective, they become the mindfulness of Taoism.
Priya, Glad to have your presence at the Mastery of Meditation website and thank you for your inspiring comments. Love and Peace, Anmol
Am glad you found the article helpful and thank you for your feedback.
Love and Peace, Anmol
absolutely beautiful .may Beloved shower His innumerable blessings on you .anadam.
This is such a life saver. We can just live. Not knowing what am I living for, always kept me looking for that answer. It is such a relief to know that “It is Ok tobe like that.
Thanks and tons of love.
I’m a 35 years old woman, divorced and with children. I have an employ as geography teacher, part-time, so I can use the time to take care of my kids and it goes pretty good like this. During the never ending spent in my house i like to do something, in particular that is watching soap operas on tv on my satellite . I also like to look at classic movies. I don’t dislikesometime to see the wheater forecast either.
I am enough sadisfied with my life and overall about my relationship with my kids. I just hope to remain in good health, so just an normal happy life.
‘ll see you
Hey KL, Christy,
To live in this spirit (not knowing) needs courage and an open, adventurous heart… and these qualities I see in you both from your comments. Willing to be true to one’s own heart and simply responding to life from moment to moment.
Thank you for sharing. I need a clip art for bowing as that is what I am doing right now. Best Wishes.
I often feel like I don’t know what I am doing. I look around and feel like everyone has life figured out but if I do what they are doing I will not be happy. I am happy doing what I am doing even if I don’t know where it is going and why.
This post has helped me to understand these feelings of unknowing, they are okay.
KL’s post directed me here today to your site and I am glad she did.
Thanks KL and Thanks Anmol!
I so love your parables… and of course, read this article just when I needed to.
This afternoon, after doing some work on my blog and before teaching a private yoga class, I felt awful.
Because I don’t KNOW anything. I don’t know what I’m doing with my blog. I don’t know what I’m doing when I teach…
I felt like such a fraud.
And then, right before I started my yoga practice, I just thought… all I have to do is open to the moment.
Even though I felt like I didn’t know what to teach or what to do, my student was more communicative and more full of thanks after this session than any of our previous. (Might have been the heart opening kriya I taught from your on-line class).
Coming home to write tomorrow’s article, I was again struck by what I don’t know. I don’t know ANYTHING!
But out of the depths of my ignorance came my passion for yoga and I wrote with joy and abandonment in that moment (see my site tomorrow for the result.)
I feel so uneasy about all this personal development, goal setting and manifesting stuff…
‘Cos I just don’t know anything about where I’m going or what I’m doing. I kinda feel like I’m just along for the ride…
So thank you, for a post that illuminates what I was feeling all day so articulately.
I feel free – like I can get up from my computer and go downstairs and throw some Madonna on the stereo, pour myself a glass of wine and start cooking dinner.
Like it’s ok to just live and feel in the moment…
Its ok to not know anything.
Many blessings Anmol, you are a true teacher.