Once on a journey Zen master Zenko happened to see a ruined temple that he thought should be restored. Completely without material resources of his own, Zenko wrote a large sign saying, “This month, on such-and-such day, the pilgrim Zen master Zenko will perform a self-cremation. Let those who will donate money for firewood come watch.”
Now Zenko posted this sign here and there. Soon the local people were agog, and donations began pouring in.
On the appointed day, people jammed the temple, awaiting the lighting of the fire.
Zenko sat in the firewood, preparing to immolate himself. He called for the fuel to be ignited at his signal.
Now Zenko went into silent meditation. A long time passed. All of a sudden, he looked up at the blue sky and nodded. Then he addressed the crowd, saying, “Listen, listen! There are voices in the clouds! Just as I was about to enter into extinction, the saints all said, ‘It is too early for you to think of leaving the defiled world! Put up with this world for a while, and stay here to save living beings.’ So I can’t go on with the cremation today.”
Then he took the money that had been donated and was able to restore the abondoned temple with it.
(from Sayings: The Wisdom of Zen)
Someone I have recently considered a good friend said to me while talking about how Paul Hackett could possibly be apologizing to Sherrod Brown: “You’re Buddhist, you should get that”.
Well, let’s just say that hit me like a cast iron Shakyamuni. There are times that I feel like I have to push away from this blogging thing and go back to my life – discover who I really want to be and what I am really all about. There is no better place than the Zen cushions. So this is what I did. I sat. What I came away with is that ego went into overdrive and has been since about February 14th as it relates to this senate race.
My post yesterday is a reflection of much anger and frustration – all completely justified and probably felt by many who pay close attention. I would not say that I think any of it was wrong, just that there comes a point when it is what it is and you have to exist in whatever moment you have in front of you. I can’t change the fact that Sherrod entered the race clumsily. I can’t change the fact that he stepped on my guy Paul Hackett’s toes getting in. I can’t change any of it – the truly incompetent online outreach and strategy employed by Phil Devellis, the oppo shopping to the righties, the swiftboat whisper campaign, the Valentines Day Massacre. No matter how much railing I do, it is what it is. That is not to say we shouldn’t rail and expose the wrongs and shed light on the cockroach of political malfeasance. I feel like I MUST. But I guess you arrive at a point where you must step aside and let the arrow pass.
This brings me to the story above. I read it in a book of Zen stories just after morning meditation today and during some nice Awake tea. I am sometimes struck to the point of embarassment at the wisdom of the old masters. How cluttered do our minds have to get that we can’t see what they see? How muddy is our water that would become clear if we would only be still?
Well, it hit me that Zenko was so quickly able to see that it didn’t matter how he accomplished what he wanted to accomplish, what mattered was that the temple needed to be restored. Chris was able to see this. I was not. I’m sorry, Chris. Understand that my post was a reflection of the intense frustration I have had with how bloggers have been treated by the Brown campaign and not about you. I stand by my desire to see them reach out further and do a MTB session. I think the issue of what affect blogging about an area that you don’t live in is interesting, but should come up in another way and you are right – it was an ad hominem attack. I’m sorry for that. I know from talking to you and meeting you twice that we are on the same team and I see that you are merely trying to restore the temple. Accept my apologies and consider me moving on.
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