(You Haven’t Been Rejected Or Left Behind)
There's a wonderful Zen story where a monk goes searching for his teacher, someone to be deeply connected to and learn the truth about life. Like all of us, he’s searching all over the place to be wanted and accepted, to discover the truth of life.
Finally, he leaves home, goes up hills, down valley and finally climbs all the way to the top of the mountain. It's a fascinating journey really, hidden and far away. He doesn't yet realize that all of us have reached our destination before taking even one step.
Please Let Me In
Finally, the monk sees a cave, and finds an old teacher sitting inside it. The monk looks into the hut and begs the teacher, “Oh, it’s so beautiful in there. Please, let me in.”
Of course the monk is pleading not only for entrance into the cave, but into the teacher’s heart, his world, his wisdom. The monk is saying, Please let me into the inner circle, let me belong, know the secret. Everybody longs for that.
This teacher then gives the monk a wonderful response. He says, “You’re not outside.”
You’re Not Outside
The teacher is telling the monk you're already inside here with me. None of us are ever separated. What I have, you have. What I know, you know. You haven’t been rejected or left behind.
What a great gift the teacher gave the monk. He didn’t try to make him dependent or needy, didn’t act as though the teacher were superior. He gave the monk the true gift we all long for. He returned him to his own Self.
We all feel like outsiders, longing to be let in. Everyone wants to be on the inside of the group. Somehow, deep down, we feel rejected, disconnected and believe someone else, or some place else can give our life meaning, happiness and acceptance. This is an enormous illusion that takes the joy of our lives away.
Somehow we never realize that We are always on the inside of life. Wherever we are, whomever we’re with, there’s an immense, intricate connection. However, it seems as though there’s a heavy cloud around us blocking this simple truth. The cloud doesn’t allow us to see that not only do we have all we need, but actually there’s nowhere to go.
Your Basic Teacher, Your Deep Friend, Is You.
We are the ones rejecting ourselves, not someone else out there. Not only are we rejecting ourselves, but sadly we reject others, and life itself as well.
Many practices suggest that by rejecting this world, turning away from this life of appearances, we will find our happiness and truth. This is the idea that who we are is inherently bad, or insufficient. There’s something wrong or missing with us, and we must spend our lives correcting our flaws, before we can find our true teacher and be accepted by him/her.
However, these ideas not only keep the truth away, they perpetuate the sense that life as it is, including ourselves, is unacceptable. And, to find the truth, we must leave everything behind.
In the Hebrew Scripture, there’s another point of view. It says, “The place to find God is at the kitchen table. If you want to find God, it is with others, in ordinary life, enjoying, participating and bringing warmth and light to everything. This perspective is very similar to basic teachings of Zen, where each moment is perfect, as it is.
Don't Reject Anything
In Zen practice we are given practices which enable us to go deep within, without rejecting what’s outside. The practice, ultimately, is not to reject anything, including ourselves. Just taste it fully, know it, see it with eyes of truth.
Our aliveness and truth becomes revealed both in sitting in silent meditation (zazen), and in our relationships, sitting at the kitchen table. Wherever we are, all truth is waiting, and even if we are alone, It’s impossible not to be in a relationship of some kind.
We’re in many relationships, with ourselves, with the moment, with our very body. Often we don't like it the relationship, but like it or not, it’s right here. When we make friends with whatever is happening, like or dislike aren’t so important. Whatever's happening doesn't rule the show. What we disliked one moment, we’ll like the next. What matters is that always we’re connected, always together, a precious part of this life.
It is so important to take our practice right into life, be present to, available for everything, and stop basing everything upon what we like or dislike. Then our feeling of belonging, of being inside and cared for grows and grows day by day.
Ultimately, we are describing a practice of Oneness, being whole, connected and at home. When we linger in judgments and rejection, we are the ones separating ourselves from the life we are so hungry for.
Instead, jump in. Know your life by being it fully, not by thinking about it or figuring it out. By fully embodying your life as it’s given you see you are completely whole.