Sunday, May 8, 2011

Anxiety, Trust, and Problems

“Some of the worst disasters in my life have not yet happened.”  Mark Twain

I’m anxious because I am starting a new life when I retire.  My son is anxious because he is starting a new life, because he just left the Marine Corps.  His fiancĂ©e just graduated from college and is starting a new life.  She may be anxious too, but I have not specifically asked her, since it doesn’t seem cool to ask somebody about their anxiety. 

Suzuki Roshi says some pretty incredible (in the actual sense of not being entirely believable) things about problems and trust:

Whatever the problems are, they are just enough.  If these are not enough problems, Buddha is ready to give you more, just so you can appreciate your problems.  If you have nothing to cope with, your life feels empty.  So I think you should trust Buddha.   [Not Always So pg 143.] 

Trust the Buddha?  Trust God?  What does that mean?  We usually equate trust with a positive outcome: I trust the car won’t veer over and cause a head-on collision; I trust the food I am eating is not poisonous; I trust the sun will come up in the morning.  Well, there are some things you can trust – like the sun rising– but cars do veer over, and food is sometimes poisonous.  And people who have trust and faith in God do lose their children. 

I think faith is different from trust.  I have faith that life is precious.  I have faith that love is the most important thing.  My faith is more open-ended.  Not so much faith in a specific being or thing, but faith that Being is fundamentally beautiful.  Faith does not require an outcome.  Just an attitude of joy and gratitude.

I have not yet, however, made the leap of faith that whatever one’s problems are, they are just enough.  Yes, I am managing my problems pretty well, but there are a multitude of sick and oppressed people in the world for whom the problems are too much.

My Zen teacher Norman said “trusting that everything will work out as it must.” I don’t know exactly what this means and why this would be a good thing.  I will have to think about this.

But I like the following quote of Suzuki Roshi:

Before you accept the problems you have, the position you are in, you cannot accept yourself as you are.

Our problems are ourselves.  We cannot accept our life or ourselves unless we accept that problems and living are synonymous.