One night, after reading a story to my then 10-year-old daughter, she looked up at me and said, “Daddy, when we die, will all the answers to life be revealed to us; like when you play a game and the answer is at the back of the book?” The truth is, I don’t remember how I responded.
What I hope I said is that I think we don’t need to wait until we die in order for the answers to be revealed. Perhaps the answers are revealed in many moments, perhaps in every moment of our lives. We just need to be open enough, or still enough, or ready enough to receive them. We can even practice and cultivate this kind of readiness, by paying attention to and letting go of whatever gets in our way. And what, after all, do I or anyone really know about life and death?
One of the values that draws me to Zen practice is right in the midst of this “not-knowing” is the spirit of taking great care of everything; the feeling that each thing is special, even sacred, just for being what it is. This is expressed in the arts, such as tea ceremony, in gardening, or in the everyday aesthetics of keeping things uncluttered and in order. There is a beautiful relationship between valuing an uncluttered environment and the value of an uncluttered mind.
This taking care extends to caring deeply for our own life, and caring deeply for the lives of others.
I also wish I had said something about love; love as a force that breaks us open, that reveals, that connect and binds us.
What do you think? How would you answer my daughter’s question?
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