Acts of Love: a Small Zen Meditation on the State of Things


These are past dangerous times. The world’s human population has probably already passed carrying capacity. And we live on a planet where our actions have set climactic changes into motion that are already past recalling.

For too many poverty, hunger, and ignorance are the cards we get to play. And those who have the power to do otherwise are preoccupied.

There is a currently popular television show, which I haven’t watched, but which I understand involves various parties fighting over an iron throne whilst an army of zombies is marching on the kingdoms. The slogan for this is winter is coming.

Yesterday the American senate passed a tax “reform” bill that is basically true to the proposition that the government that governs least governs best. And should the reconciliation with the House bill proceed and whatever mess is cobbled together passes, means that America, which has always been an oligarchic republic will begin to unravel the social contract forged in the wake of the Great Depression where the promise of a government for “all” will become unabashedly a government for the rich.

The preoccupation is profit.

And that government for the rich is not going to be concerned with climate. Nor is it concerned with over population. Nor, the host of sadnesses of our human condition. It will be about short term profit.

Winter is coming.

For me and my life Zen has been a way to engage change. And all the changes. Watching the world in conflict. Watching my own life. And as I move toward seventy I am discovering new intimacies with the realities of sickness, aging, and death.

When I am asked what Zen is, today I would most likely recite the lay Zen practitioner Jane Hirschfield:

Everything changes
Everything is connected
Pay attention

I would add one more thing: From these three things, act.

We do not need to win. That, I hope is a liberating fact. We all die. Even stars die.

But, how we live matters. It is in fact the substance of meaning in a world where everything changes, where everything is connected.

As we pay attention we discover who we are and who everyone else on this planet is.

And, we are called into the great matter as an act of love.

The great revolution.

The only revolution that might save us.

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