Sunday, June 17, 2012

Not Zen 10: Senseless Death

Two days after a tragedy, the young man arrived at his temple.  His mother had been one of many people murdered in the marketplace.  The act had been committed, so far as anyone could tell, out of a misplaced sense of revenge.  Victims had not died because they had wronged the murderers but because they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and were vulnerable.

The young man cried tears and raged for a while about the injustice of it.  Then he sat.

"You're a good man," he told the priest.  "But your parables say nothing about terrors or senseless death."

The priest knew that all of Zen, all of Stoicism, and all of the Way dealt with the senselessness of death and, in fact, of living, too.  No tragedy was ignored.  But he remained silent.

"My mother was killed by brutes.  And for what?  For nothing.  Because she looked like someone a killer didn't like.  Her last moments were suffering and fear.  That's what I dream about now.  Her last moments."

"You and I will die that way, too," said the priest.  "I don't mean in the marketplace.  But we will suffer in our bodies and maybe in our souls.  Don't fool yourself.  Even if we pass away in our sleep, our bodies will suffer.  We will feel agony."

"Is that what life is about, then?  Ending in agony?  Is there no hope?"

"Hope is a worldly thing.  It is not part of the way.  You know that."

"What do you have to offer, then?"  The young man began to cry again.

"Compassion.  Compassion is always part of the way."

"And compassion leads to hope?"

"It shouldn't."  He put his hand over the young man's trembling hand.  "It should lead to more compassion."

No comments:

Post a Comment