Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao: The Meaning of Life and the Sitting Zazen

webnakao10-047-color-4inExcellence Reporter: Roshi Wendy, what is the meaning of life?

Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao: This question, “What is the meaning of life?” drove my spiritual search from my childhood through my mid-twenties until I encountered Zazen, the sitting posture that unites body-breath-mind in the mystery of life right here, right now. The question evaporated into a boundless field of Not-knowing. 

What arose in its stead was the question, “How?” How do I live a life which is by its nature boundless and yet infinitely particular in its manifestation? How do I live boundlessness as it forms itself in the act of washing dishes, changing diapers, or sweeping the back porch? Or as it forms itself in the toxicity of racism, impoverishment, or exclusion that I witness in myself-and-others?

Over the years I have discovered that this great field of not-knowing calls me to listen deeply to all that is arising. The limited sense of “I” expands to include things strange and unfamiliar — things beyond my capacity to know, things that I may have considered “not me” — all expanding-and-contracting in one seamless flow of interacting complexity.

So, I like to say, “Know what you stand for.” We are all related and can never be separated. What are the everyday actions of my own hands, words, and heart that affirm this One Life that we are living all together?


~Roshi Wendy Egyoku Nakao is the Abbot and Head Teacher of the Zen Center of Los Angeles, a founding teacher of the Zen Peacemaker Order, and a Dharma Successor in the White Plum Mazeumi/Glassman Lineage.

Copyright © 2016 Excellence Reporter

Categories: Zen

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