The Absulute and the Relative
Accounts of Daily Life

Rev. Yin Zhi Shakya, OHY

Account #1
By Yin Zhi Shakya, OHY
Translated from the Spanish by Yin Zhi Shakya, OHY
Edited and Proofread and Proofread by Rev. Ming Zhen Shakya, OHY
It was cold. I didn’t want to walk as I usually do every evening. Anyway, I decided to take a walk around the block; and so I put on my jacket, took the key of the main door, and went down the stairs. Once there, I breathed in the soft and cold atmosphere of the evening and was thankful that I had decided to walk.
I hadn’t taken even five steps when I met a neighbor, a young lady who was coming from the opposite direction. I greeted her and noticed that she was weeping. We made eye contact, and then she asked me with a sad face, “Are you in a hurry? May I talk to you?” I said, “No, I’m not in a hurry, and yes you may talk to me. It will be a pleasure. And then we began to walk together.
She said, “ I have many problems. Nobody understands me. I try, and I try. I try to do things right, but everything goes wrong.”
I responded with a monosyllable, “Oh.”
She continued talking, “I’m alone even when I’m in a group. I’m sad even when everybody around me is happy. My name is Lucy, and I don’t know who am I. I have it all, and I feel I don’t have anything. There’s no motivation in my life. There is not any motivation to do anything. What’s wrong with me?”
“It could be possible that this is not so bad as you see it,” I said. “Have you done a mental recount of your life’s events?”
“No”, she said, “What is that?”
“A mental recount, a mental housecleaning of your life’s events, is an observation, a perception after the facts, with hindsight on the problems. It is to question yourself about what the real problem is, without being deceitful to yourself. It is to face the problem, in other words, to face the truth.”
“Oh, this is very difficult to do, I wouldn’t be able to do it alone,” she said.
“If you want I can go over the process with you.”
She didn’t talk, and we kept on walking. Then I said, “I’m going to tell you a story about an exceptional man and his teachings - from which everybody can learn about life and receive counseling as to how they can live their life in peace. He said, "This world, the world of samsara, the ego's temporal world, should be regarded as:
'As a falling star, or Venus chastened by the Dawn,
A bubble in a stream, a dream,
A candle-flame that sputters and is gone.' "
"This world, my friend, does not exist. It is only an optical illusion, a mirage, something that we shouldn’t give much significance to. Somebody once said, very assertively, that this material dimension is just samsara. When you observe it, you are looking at samsara in all its extension. But, what does this mean? Nothing more and nothing less than changing names and forms. But when the ego goes away, you experience a flux… and it is magnificent, not because it is dazzling, but because of the fact that you are seeing it as it is. What’s required is the ego’s oblivion. The ego-veil is lifted, and then we can see clearly, thoroughly.”
There was a silence.
“Do you understand?” I said, finally.
I kept talking. “Rev. Ming Zhen Shakya, of the Order of Hsu Yun, wrote in her book The Seventh World of Chan Buddhism, in Chapter 5, The Six Worlds of Samsara, “Samsara is strife, itself. Every segment is a war zone. And the simple cause of the conflict is that the ego, by its very nature, exists in a perpetual state of desire, wanting love, fame and power and, unfortunately for us all, not much caring how it gets them. To succeed in its ambitions it will lie, cheat, steal, betray, kill, and generally manipulate other egos without the smallest mercy. If in the course of its development it has noted how loyalty, gratitude, or generosity are prized, it seeks fame for being grateful, generous or loyal. But when it perceives that such virtues are not to its immediate advantage, it defers to Number One and dispenses with such sentimental notions. Seemingly altruistic acts that are performed because the ego desires the esteem such actions generate are not altruistic at all; on the other hand, altruistic acts which are performed from genuine love and selflessness are acts which have transcended the ego and are not Samsaric at all.”
“And who is this man that are you talking about,” she replied, “the one who said that what is taking place in my life is not true. He is a mad man, isn’t he?”
“This man,” I said, “is the most famous and effective psychologist in the world, the one that has found a path leading to the end of suffering. This path is called The Noble Eightfold Path or The Middle Way. His name is Buddha, and his advice is called The Teachings, have freed, still free and will free many people who are in agony. He will free you from this suffering that you now believe you are passing through. That suffering is called the life of the ego and the life in the samsara, as I said before.
“To be able to walk this path,” I continued, “you have to be conscious that life is suffering; that the cause of suffering is craving and ignorance - the inability to see the truth about things; to see things as they really are; and to understand that to end the suffering completely you must remove desire, ill will and ignorance. Freedom from suffering is possible through the practice of the Middle Way or “The Noble Eightfold Path”.
She said, “I know life is suffering! I know. I cannot take more of it. Well.. well.. and what?”
“Well, as I said before, there are four truths you have to be conscious of: that life is suffering; that the cause of suffering is craving and ignorance; that to end the suffering completely, you must remove desire, ill will and ignorance; and that the freedom from the suffering is possible through the practice of the Middle Way.”
Then, very assertively, she said, “And what do I have to do to get rid of this agony, this suffering, this anguish, this distress?”
“The secret of Zen lies in understanding why we do the things we do and why we are the way we are. We begin by doing a little mental housecleaning as I said before, and then we practice the eight steps to the freedom: Right Understanding; Right Thoughts or Purpose; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; Right Meditation.”
I looked in her eyes and in a moment I knew she was absorbing what I wanted to convey.
It was dark. We didn’t notice how the time had gone by.
She said, “I want to keep learning. I hope this won’t be too much for you. Can we walk tomorrow?”
“Yes,” I said, “at five o’clock in the same place.”
And then we traveled on to our respective homes.
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