The Zen 3 seals
While dying the Buddha was asked by his head monk Ananda:
“ What is the most important message from your 50 years of teaching?”
He replied“ Everything is transient. Live your life accordingly”
Indeed, nothing lasts, everything is changing non-stop.
In fact, an oak will not exist if the acorn remains an acorn.
We exist because the eggs of our mothers and sperms of our fathers were transient.
The bottom line:
1 The good stuff never lasts and too much attachment to it is a potential source of suffering.
2 There a positive aspect of change: bad times are also transient.
3 Only impermanence never changes.
A very difficult tenet to apply.
It does not mean at all the passing or dissolution of “I, me, and myself ”
We perceive, consciously or not, our “I, me and myself” as an independent, indispensable, unique, self-sustained mental and physical entity and separate from all other living beings.
This perception is pure delusion and a significant source of suffering.
In fact, this restrictive view of “ I, me and myself” described our
Obviously, our ego-self should not be rejected because so critical to function in our lives. Finding the right balance also called the Middle Way is key as in any other Zen teaching.
No-self instead referred to our True Self minus this ego-self reduced to its basic functions.
Describing our True-Self with words is impossible because such a description with words will be too restrictive and misleading. It can only be experienced thru meditation practice.
True-Self is immaterial, universal and w/o a soul in its religious meaning. Some equate True-Self to Universal consciousness shared by all living beings. Others call it God.
3) The third seal is Nirvana:
Literally: blowing the flame of the candle.
It does not mean blissful state, ecstasy or ongoing happiness from a painless life.
The candle flame is a metaphor for self-induced suffering including our negative emotions.
Nirvana is the total liberation from this suffering, allowing to achieve equanimity.
The sources of suffering will be discussed next week but, very briefly, here is a short list:
Uncontrolled ego:“ I want this, I don’t want that, I know, I am in control ”
Ignorance that is misconception/ illusion of genuine reality.
Entertaining or being stuck with wrong ideas, beliefs and judgments such as:
1 Things will stay as they are.
2 Believing in all our thoughts.
3 Not having our wandering mind with where our body is and what it is doing.
4 The nostalgia of the past and worries about the future. They don’t exist.
The teachings of Zen is not absolute truth nor dogma. The Buddha said, “My teachings are a finger pointing to the moon. Do not get caught in thinking that the finger is the moon. It is only because of the finger that you can see the moon”. I will add: “I am the instrument, up to you to use it properly”