You Are Like the Ancestors

By Dennis Sienko

Too many of us have the problem of thinking, “Is my doubt, my spirit of inquiry, strong enough? Am I deserving enough? No way could I be like those ancient Zen ancestors, so strong and devoted. The Buddha stood on one leg for six days or six weeks or something like that. I can hardly stand on one leg for thirty seconds.”

But nothing could be further from the truth. The Buddha and all the ancestors were the same as you, and you are the same as them. After all, the Buddha left his wife and family. What would we think today of someone who left their wife and family to pursue some strange spiritual quest? Certainly, not someone deserving enlightenment.

We all have our warts. The universe loves you despite your warts. Maybe you are divorced. Maybe you are too old, and if only you would have started on this path twenty years ago. Maybe you are too young to get enlightened. Maybe your family life is not what it should be. Maybe you are too thin, too fat, too tall. Maybe you should not have kicked your grandmother’s cat when you were eight years old.

It doesn’t matter! You need to step forward and take Manjusri’s sword from the altar, and once and for all cut off the mind road.

Do you deserve enlightenment? This is not a yes or no answer, for this is not an ego-driven process. You must become totally helpless, totally alone and totally open.

Do you deserve enlightenment? Let the wind be your witness.

pine needles
Photo by Geoff Keeton

Written by joeltagert

Writer, artist and longtime Zen practitioner.

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