Thursday, October 22, 2009


With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

One of my Disciples, Rev. Kajo, wrote to the Zen Living list about her experience dealing with the recent death of her father. I am sending my reply to her this morning as my daily message. Below my reply is her original post.

Daiho Roshi


Dear Kajo,

Personal pain and personal suffering are different, but equally difficult for others to address with the one in pain and suffering. You have experienced the loss of your father's presence in your life as a physical being. You have experienced your family's insensitivity in not informing you immediately. Pain, yes. Suffering, well that is yours. We suffer as we hold on to thoughts and feelings, stringing them like beads on a necklace. Care needs to be taken not to allow this necklace to become a choker chain.

We experience, through our practice, the fact that there is no birth or death, only this moment. How can this help? The thought of it does nothing. The practice of it liberates us.

From a theological perspective, we must be careful not to make too much of a notion of a God with intentions. Does God throw dice? Does He look over every single event on every planet in an infinite universe? Can God even see? These ideas of God are projections on our part, I believe. We wish for, need, or want such a God.

Yet the simple truth of the matter is these ideas are idols in the mind. A deep understanding of the Infinite comes through our suffering. The pain we experience teaches us most specifically about our separation from God, rather than God's separation from us. One with the Infinite, what is loss? One with the Infinite, what is birth and death?

We Jews believe that we are infused with Ruach ha-Kodesh, the breath of God or the Holy Spirit. As Zen Buddhists we might at first blush, say "nonsense!" Yet, I see our essential Buddha Nature as this Infinite Breath. Breathing in, breathing out. What else is there?

May you embrace your pain and look deeply into your suffering,

Be well.

You must be as nothing in your own eyes.
Then you will be worthy of attaining true
self-nullification and your soul will be
merged with its root.

Rabbi Nachman

Harvey Daiho Hilbert, Ph.D., Roshi
Telephone: 575-405-8522

From: celia
Sent: Wed, October 21, 2009 9:25:06 AM
Subject: [Zen Living] Death

With palms together,
Dear Sangha,
I have studied intensiveley about death, accepting death, and not being afraid of it. I have found comfort in TNH's idea that when we die, its meerley because we were no longer able to manifest so we withdraw from the world. I like this thought a lot and it has been helping me accept my fathers death.
Everyone I see hugs me tight and tells me he is no longer suffering and is resting now. This is the hardest part for me. I keep wondering why God didn't take him earlier. I don't mean that to sound bad. I just mean that my dad was suffering for so long. Situations amd environment were not right for him to continue to manifest. What is it that keeps us alive when we suffer so much? ...and why do we still hurt? How, in buddhism can we free the pain that we feel when a loved one is suffering or the pain that we feel when our loved ones withdraw from the world?
Do we sit it out? In Christianity, we ask God to remove out pain and he does- when we let him. How in meditation do we learn to let it float by? Ibam in nob way bashing my Buddhist practice. I am simply looking for a way to find peace.
I know what my dad would say: "give it to the lord". What do we as Buddhists say?

Learning to accept my dads withdrawal from the world,
Rev. Kajo

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