July 12, 2018
When I was younger, I was obsessed with asking why. It made me crazy when my parents said, “Because I said so.” And I really disliked it when I asked a question in Sunday School and the teacher would say, “Well, some things just have to be taken on faith.” (In my secret heart of hearts, that still bugs me! 🙂
But as I have gotten older, I have learned a lot more about my various motives behind questioning why. I have also become more humble. I’ve learned that sometimes asking why is actually about wanting to have some sense of control.
Many things happen in life that leave us feeling baffled and powerless. If we could just know “the reason,” we think maybe we wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by those things.
People love to say, “Everything happens for a reason.” Maybe. Maybe it happens for many reasons. Or for no reason at all. In my current way of looking at things, I think that Reality might be too vast for Reason to comprehend.
The “3rd injunction” in Brugh Joy’s book, Joy’s Way, is:
“Delete the need to understand.”
This isn’t saying don’t seek to understand. Rather, it is addressing the need to understand, which can get in the way of experiencing, without encumbrances, what is. Sometimes the compulsion to know why or to have a label or a diagnosis is a way to distract ourselves from simply being with what is. And sometimes it’s because of a need to be “in the know” or to be right.
During a question-and-answer session following one of Suzuki’s lectures, a student said, “Suzuki Roshi, I’ve been listening to your lectures for years, but I just don’t understand. Could you please put it in a nutshell? Can you reduce Buddhism to one phrase?”
Everyone laughed. Suzuki laughed.
“Everything changes,” he said. “Next question?”
Peggy Christiansen is the Spiritual Leader at Unity of Fort Collins. She has over 25 years of ministry experience working with diverse populations, a M.Div. from San Francisco Theological Seminary, and a special interest in helping people find and/or develop their unique spiritual paths. Listen to podcasts of her Sunday talks.