One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:35-40 New International Version (NIV)
The source of awakening is not the soul property of Zen, so I bow in gratitude to Jesus. His words cut through all delusions of separateness and offer the possibility of realization. His simple and direct approach affirms Jesus as a great teacher for me. His reverence, coupled with pointing to a life that aligns with peace and kindness, is in fact the “oneness” that was perceived by Buddha. The Second, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” acknowledges the truth of our undeniable connectedness and simultaneously includes the First.
Based on the teachings of Buddha and the collected wisdom of countless sentient beings, Zen is a practice of connectedness, a practice of peace. Zen itself is peace functioning in daily life. To practice The Way is to practice immediately, for peace can only manifest in this moment. Sitting quietly and still, paying attention to our direct experience and receiving life as it is, is peaceful activity. This is the heart of Zen. Because the only peace that is possible is the peace that is occurring right now, we must practice right now.
I was born in 1968, and for the entirety of my 48 years, we (USA) have been preparing for war or actively at war. The Cold War, Vietnam War, War on Drugs, Persian Gulf War, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the War on Terror are some that I recall. But war does not lead to peace. This is a fact, not a spiritual point of view. Practice war and receive war in this moment. Practice peace and receive peace in this moment. War only dwells in the delusion of being separate. See through this delusion, then separation and war are cut off, instantly they drop away.
War is part of our culture though; it is as American as apple pie. A quick Internet search easily reveals that 54% of our federal budget’s discretionary spending is allocated to the military. We choose to spend about 600 billion dollars each year in this way. But this hasn’t stopped wars from being waged. It hasn’t instilled peace and safety. Nor has it vanquished terrorism, drug addition and trafficking. Yet we continue to spend, only adding pain and suffering. War is not the incarnation of the teachings of Jesus either.
Everything reveals Buddha Nature, even war. Every moment offers the possibility of awakening from delusion and expressing grace. Our lives matter, how we choose to live in this world matters. Practicing peace matters, loving neighbors as ourselves matters.
Beloved neighbors, it is of the utmost importance that we wake up together and practice peace immediately.