Today on Twitter I saw a post forwarded to my account from John Fugelsang from someone named JohhnyBoy that said “I wish gun related deaths were just as scary to Americans as ebola.” During our Zen Buddhist service and sitting this morning we prayed for the families and friends of the students killed during school yesterday in Marysville, WA . The combination of this incident and the post from JohnnyBoy brought back to mind the short piece that one of our teachers had given me to put into our Zen Bulletin and on our website he titled it “Excitement.” Wilbur Mushin May Sensei wrote:
We cannot live without excitement. However, when excitement becomes the sole purpose in life that’s out of balance, that does not work. It seems, we strive to be on a constant high all the time. Having fun almost becomes an addiction. But the craving for the extraordinary dulls the palate, and we lose our sense for the ordinary.
In Zen, when our practice is calm and ordinary nothing is lacking and our everyday life itself is enlightenment.
Don’t engage disturbances and emotional reachings gradually fade away.
Don’t engage distractions and spiritual practice naturally grows.
Violence, fear, and panic have become an everyday thing. The news touts it and wants us to “be afraid…be very, very, afraid!” This will draw people to the 24-hour news stations and to the internet for minute-by-minute updates. Thus, we can see more of their commercials, buy more of their products, and I could go on and on.
But in Buddhism we live by the values of the Buddha and his followers and students who focused on the good and the gracious and the generosity ingrained in all human beings. We step in to help the family, friends, and teachers in their time of need. We do all we can to minimize gun deaths with stronger gun laws and the like.
And hopefully living a life of peace, love, and compassion will be an example that others will want to follow. Change comes one person at a time. Knowing this we can change the world in which we live to one where the loudest form of excitement is only as bold and brash as cheering for your favorite team, or blowing out the candles on your birthday cake, or sharing tears of joy when your favorite relative greets you with a smile and a hug.
This excitement I wish for you.