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Disappointment

by Zen Master D. Genpo Merzel

Q: How is it that disappointment can bring about enlightenment or an awakening?

Genpo: Disappointment is a cruel but vigorous teacher. We all enter the spiritual path with many ideas, notions, hopes and expectations. It is our hope that the spiritual path will save us from our fears, loneliness and feelings of emptiness. The more we attach to the notion or idea that something such as a spiritual path or someone such as a spiritual teacher will rescue us from our human conditions and predicament, the more disappointment is an awakening. If we are mature in our disappointment we realize that no one and nothing will be our savior.

The true path is ‘being one with,’ which  I rephrase as owning and embodying our life, this life as a human being. We want to project on to a practice such as Zen and on to a master, teacher or guru our hope that we can somehow escape from this realm of birth and death. The truth is there is no escape.  That there is nothing to be attained is not idle chatter but the ultimate truth.  Disappointment is like what Tonto was for the Lone Ranger, our best friend and sidekick on the path of enlightenment.  It enables us to face this truth and to live fully as who and what we are, completely and profoundly ordinary.

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