A Time For Every Purpose

“I have rejected things with nothing so strong to replace them, and I am floundering.” So I wrote to my Zen teacher twenty-nine years ago. And, in the way of the cycles of life, twenty-nine years later, I find myself at this point again. (As an aside, this appears to be where we are at as a country, also.) We humans build up our internal infrastructures, relying on their existence for our sense of meaning, forgetting that infrastructures, too, get outdated and need to be refurbished. Life demands growth, and growth is change.

The realization that what worked for us in the past no longer does, is part of a natural cycle of growth. But just because it’s supposed to happen, doesn’t mean it feels great. As a matter of fact, it often feels so un-great that people have developed stock coping mechanisms. Some buy the little red sports car. Some throw off their partners for someone younger, some abuse alcohol and drugs—all to avoid feeling the pain of growth.

What did my Zen teacher write back to me? “If you are floundering, then just flounder” adhering to the Zen teachings of just experiencing your life without attachment.

No stones are left unturned in our lives (try as we might to keep them face down) because we are growing, thinking beings. A time of questioning beliefs, priorities, and values comes to everyone.

I forget sometimes, because it is so damn scary, that the best course of action is to sit right in the middle of it, just experiencing (and not reacting to) those feelings. The floundering, like the curve in the road, brings us to the next place in our lives.



6 thoughts on “A Time For Every Purpose

  1. Wow, I was far off. If that is Zen, then Zhuangzi and Zen are opposite, but I thought that Zen and Mindfulness, in meditation, tersely put, is ignoring everything and paying attention to everything, respectively.

  2. Well, it is paying attention to everything, and if you what you mean by ignoring everything is not getting caught by your attention, then that is what Zen meditation and mindfulness is about. You strive to exist moment after moment, without clinging, without judging–without, and this is the crux of it–becoming attached. It is the attachment, to things, thoughts, ideas, that keep us from fully experiencing each moment. That’s the idea anyway. And so the practice is one of cultivating the mental discipline to just experience. Paying attention to breath, in and out. “Pay attention! Pay attention! Pay attention! Because your life is going very, very quickly!” as one Zen master put it.

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