The lesson of the cicada


A California Zen teacher retells a story from Hakuin Ekaku (1685–1768), and adds:

But this attainment can’t come from reading a book, or having someone tell us what we should believe. This comes from years of introspective struggle with the meaning of our own existence.

— Dochong, JDPSN (Interfering or teaching, Zen Mirror, Oct. 19, 2008)



2 responses

  1. I dunno about the need for “struggle” and “meaning of our own existence.”

    We do need to become intimate with ourselves – our beauty and our horror. Sometimes this intimacy can appear from reading a passage in a book, sometimes from the feedback of a friend or teacher. And, most often, it can come from simply paying attention to the function of our mind.

    Breathing helps.


  2. For me it’s a struggle. Sitting and not thinking about yesterday’s TV show or today’s breakfast — that is very hard for me!

    Maybe “the meaning of our own existence” sounds highfalutin, but I think it’s just another way of stating the question: “What am I?” Don’t know! But I get a little glimpse of understanding sometimes about this “don’t know,” and you are right, sometimes that comes from something outside me. A shock of recognition. But more often, it comes from some deep place inside, and my access to that place (whatever it is) is new to me.