Tuesday, October 30, 2018
As many of you know, for about five years I was a Zen student in New York City. This was from 2004 until 2009 or so. I don't sit much (well, okay, at all) these days, but at the time I was quite serious about it, studying with a teacher and taking a Dharma name. I keep thinking I may go back to active practice someday, but in the meantime I stay in touch with the Zendo community through its e-mail exchange.
Yesterday, a woman I practiced with sent an e-mail message that I found so comforting. It's a passage from the Talmud:
Do not be daunted
by the enormity
of the world's grief.
Do justly, now.
Love mercy, now.
Walk humbly, now.
You are not obligated
to complete the work,
but neither are you free
to abandon it.
I am certainly no Talmudic scholar, so I don't know the context of this verse. But given the horrifying incidents of the last few days, I thought it was a touching reminder that we must do our own small part, daily, to resist the evils of the world. We can't expect to stop them -- and that helps alleviate my personal frustration and sense of helplessness -- but we can't turn our backs either.
I suppose it's up to each of us to determine what form our resistance will take, whether it's voting or simply trying to act, with our "feet on the street," in kind, just and compassionate ways.
I briefly Googled* the verse to make sure it's authentic, and it seems to be -- a writer from a Jewish newspaper in San Diego cited it a few years ago when she was writing about the ills of the world. (And that was before Donald Trump got elected! Good Lord, is it really possible that man has been president NOT EVEN TWO YEARS YET?!)
So, anyway. Do not be daunted. The world's grief is enormous, but it is not entirely your (or my) burden -- we can address only our tiny piece, as seemingly insignificant as that cup in the photo at the top of the page. I found it lying in a parking lot while walking the dog. It stands out, doesn't it? With that beautiful bright purple color?
*(By the way, have you used Google yet today? There's a Halloween computer game in place of the Google doodle, and it's fun! I am not a computer gamer at all, but I got a kick out of it.)