A Reply to a Reader: On War and Zen Monk’s “Job”

When you have some public-facing job, you get all sorts of interesting letters. Most are beautiful and open, oftentimes they are critical, and sometimes they are downright petty. It’s just part of the territory. I get it — I have been facing this since the Internet was invented a few years after I ordained in Asia.

And sometimes, people want to take some image of you and hold it up for some sort of ridicule or cattiness.

Some good person in particular “following” me on social media has taken to wagging his/her finger at me, through public comments and in private emails. I suppose since we released this new online course two days before the brutal invasion of Ukraine began (the date, 2.22.22 at 2:22 pm was too auspicious to avoid), this person needs to interrogate publicly whether I was not some Zen-guy too overly absorbed in my own self-interests (yeah, “Sentient beings are numberless; we vow to save them all”) that I would publish and promote such a personal-seeming project on that day. Fair enough.

But the comments were left publicly, tagged openly to an ad we released announcing the course, though the person has my email address, and has used it before, and can obviously message me privately to “call me out”, as he/she has done before. Several people again pointed out that this was intended to be some sort of challenge of some kind. This person feels this need to criticise or teach me from time to time.

(Though the messenger posted these comments publicly, on Facebook, he/she obviously would not care about publicly sharing like this. But I have taken pains, anyway, to shield their identity, as the point here is not at all to hurt or humiliate or to cause any reaction from others to redound to them, but merely to reflect back the evidence they otherwise wouldn’t know, and which anyway does not need to be shared. So, though the exchange was initially publicly posted to me, out of courtesy I am masking their name here on the blog, where the exchange will remain.)

This is the only place I will comment on or share the facts contained in my reply.

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