IN this World, not OF this World

Jesus Himself said, “The world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).

A student recently asked about the hard experience she had when encountering friends again after being in nearly three months of coronavirus-lockdown. She had originally complained about the isolation of the lockdown period, especially even the lack of physical contact — hugging, embracing, kissing, being touched. And now, after meeting friends again, she came back feeling the terrible pain of their self-inflicted sufferings. It made her almost regret ever having a problem with the lockdown-isolation in the first place.

Practicing Zen means simply “meditating,” and meditating is observing, seeing, attaining our True Nature, which is Moment. And attaining moment happens nowhere else than right where we really are. It sounds too simple, maybe even New Agey. But this is the whole point.

Our practice happens in this world — in the midst of work and family and relationship, in the midst of busyness and the cares of life in the modern world. But as practitioners from the Buddha to Jesus see, those who strive to make such insight stable in their lives — while practicing in the here-and-now of our mundane lives — do not need to follow or be determined by the empty conventions, the mediocre value systems, and the endlessly unsatisfactory social needs of the human web to which we are linked by relation, by work or family or affiliation, by tribe or politics or thought or fashion. We ARE in this world, living out our practice; but we are not bound to remain “of” this world. It need not define us, prescribe us, or limit us in any way.

Here is the video where I give a shot at explaining this to a member of our community who reached out:

Here is the short teaser for that teaching-video. It was just something which Ioannis and I cranked out one afternoon, without any sort of plan: