Life and Death

In Zen we talk a lot about life and death and sometimes we may take this literally. But life and death happen in this moment, right in front of our eyes. “Life and death” point to the never-ending appearance and disappearance of phenomena. If you pay attention when you are sitting in meditation, and even sometimes in your daily life, you will notice that thoughts appear and thoughts disappear, that feelings appear and feelings disappear, that impulses appear and impulses disappear, that sounds appear and sounds disappear.

In the Wake-Up sermon Bodhidharma said, “Sages don’t consider the past. And they don’t worry about the future.” At some level we understand that yes, the past is gone and the future is not yet here, and that all we have is the present, or so we think. Bodhidharma continues, “Nor do they cling to the present.” That is a very interesting point: we have to let go even of the present. How do we not cling to the present? He concludes, “And from moment to moment they follow the Way.” If we keep a clear mind then each moment is enough, each action is complete. Moment by moment there is no life, no death. Moment by moment just like this is the truth.

By José Ramírez JDPSN