Mirror of Zen Blog

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It still blows my mind when people freak out on hearing Zen Master Seung Sahn’s oft-quoted “Being born is already a big mistake.” People really don’t really seem get it. And it is not some Zen-like riddle to be penetrated. But it has been said as far back as no less than Sophocles, who had the Chorus sing in one of his plays, “Never to have been born is best. / But if we must see the light, the next best / Is quickly returning whence we came.” 

I think people would get greater release from their mind-created suffering, the tragedy of their lives and its painful vicissitudes, if they could’ve hitched a ride along with the James Webb Telescope, launched a few hours ago in French Guyana. Looking back on this “pale blue dot” (Carl Sagan) from space, the borders of countries non-existent, the ranking of the Premier League or the state of the NFL playoffs the totally immaterial fictional fictional for reality that they are, the vaccine- or mask-mandates resistance-ignorance, the cultural fight over abortion rights and gay marriage, even the very climate catastrophe itself, would show this statement’s real truth.

Until we obtain such passengership on something akin to the Webb Telescope, the telescopes of Sophocles, Zen Master Seung Sahn, and Cioran will have to suffice. It seems like low-tech engineering, their economy of phrasing, but it’s actually the most high-tech insight we have into the human condition. Then, everything is just OK, as it is. Not a vacuum-tubed antiseptic “OK”, which leads to a nihilism, by nature, but a letting go so that the natural lenses of the mind’s eye can see reality as clearly as William Blake saw: “If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.” (“The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”).

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