Excellence Reporter: Ben, what is the meaning of life?
Ben Connelly: I do not know the meaning of life. I have chosen to give my life meaning by making a commitment to healing and liberation from suffering for all.
Not knowing the meaning of life is helpful to me, as other folks seem to have different ideas about it. By not knowing, I am better able to respect and understand other people and their views. It also helps me to remember that whatever meaning I make or believe in is almost assuredly not the ultimate truth. This not knowing helps me to be flexible. Holding this not knowing, I am more free to choose what is meaningful to me, to be free to respond to each moment with what I hope may be for the benefit of all.
Thus I keep orienting myself to a life of meaning that I am making with my beloved friends: my children, community, sangha, trees, owls and rabbits, rivers, religion, science, and stars. I work to see through my ideas to our ineffable interdependence, to use my ideas to cultivate a sense of this interdependence, to let this sense transform me into a space of compassion and loving action.
I hold the belief based in experience that there is suffering and we can do something about it, that there is joy in walking a path of healing and liberation.
~Ben Connelly is a Soto Zen teacher and Dharma heir in the Katagiri lineage. He also teaches mindfulness in a wide variety of secular contexts including police training and addiction recovery groups. Ben is based at Minnesota Zen Meditation Center and travels to teach across the United States. He contributes to Tricycle Magazine and is author for Wisdom Publications of Inside the Grass Hut, Inside Vasubandhu’s Yogacara, and Mindfulness and Intimacy. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
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