Mirror of Zen Blog

Cioran’s “Accident” and Seung Sahn’s “Mistake”

Or, as Zen Master Seung Sahn so aptly put it, “Being born is already a big mistake.” In longer form, he would say, “Human beings have no reason, no meaning, and no choice.” When someone would try to interrogate the seeming — emphasis, “seeming” — negativity or nihilism of such a view, he fleshed it out with, “Why coming into this world? Somebody inviting you? Somebody asking you first if you want coming in here?” When the questioner would fuddle up some sort of reaction, Zen Master Seung Sahn would laugh. “Ha ha ha! Have no meaning for coming in here. Have no ‘your’ reason for coming in here. Also, that means no choice for coming in this world. That’s human beings mistake-condition!”

In this sense, Zen Master Seung Sahn saw what Cioran and so many others saw, who commented similarly. No less than Mahatma Gandhi put it this way: ”If destruction is violence, creation, too, is violence. Procreation, therefore, involves violence. The creation of what is bound to perish certainly involves violence.” (The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, volume 32.) And need we go back as far as Sophocles to understand,

“Never to have been born is best
But if we must see the light, the next best
Is quickly returning whence we came.”

But the Zen Master had a significant upgrade on these views: He used to say, “Being born is already a big mistake. Now, how do you make this mistake correct? If you attain your True Self, your life becomes Big Meaning, Big Reason, and Big Choice. If we practice, we can change no-meaning to Big Meaning, which means Great Love. We can change no-reason to Big Reason, which means Great Compassion. Finally, we can change no-choice to Big Choice, which means Great Vow and Bodhisattva Way.”

Without Zen Master Seung Sahn’s more complete view of the mistake of our coming into this world, Cioran’s view can lead to a kind of helpless nihilism. But if we actually practice, and attain our true nature, we turn that strange meaningless existential condition into something nimbly functional which benefits other suffering beings, from moment to moment.

How wonderful is THAT?

Share this on:

Related Posts: