“The key to finding satori (enlightenment) is the seeker’s level of determination.” – Zen – Principles and Practices
Zen buddhism is a type of religion that emphasizes strict discipline, hard work and complete effort in order to reach the goal of enlightenment.
I had a spiritual teacher in Oakland, CA who was once a Zen buddhist monk, like the ones in the video above. He explained his experience living inside the monastery like this:
When I was young, I was athletic and very competitive. So, Zen Buddhism really appealed to me: long hours of meditation, a lot of effort and a sense of great determination toward the noble cause of being enlightened. Then one day, I had an epiphany. I looked around at all the the old monks in the monastery who had been meditating for 20, 30, 40 even 50 years! None of them were any closer to enlightenment than I was. And I thought it arrogant and foolish of me that I was going to be any more successful than these men were in reaching the ultimate goal of enlightenment, no matter how hard I tried or how determined I was to achieve it. That’s when I left the monastery and decided not to waste so many years of my life like these poor men had. Maybe that’s when I started to understand I was already enlightened.
The New Message from God has a similar but more refined message about determination and the spiritual path. There must be effort and determination but not of the personal kind. It is a determination to be with Divine Spirit and to be guided by it:
There must be Determination. This is not a personal determination…The Determination we speak of comes from a different place within you, from the deeper Knowledge God has put within you and that lives within you at this very moment…
Here, Knowledge refers to what we must deeply know, which is also called Holy Spirit. Like Zen buddhism, stillness and a meditation practice can be very helpful in connecting with Knowledge. But the New Message says that Knowledge is always with us, guiding us, protecting us and Knowledge doesn’t require great efforts to be experienced because it is who we really are:
It [Knowledge] is the most natural thing. But it will seem foreign to you, because you have been living such an unnatural life… – from “Receiving the Determination“
The key to our determination is the discarding of things in life that obscure our connection to Knowledge – not the acquisition of new ideas, new experiences or new relationships. This is what usually stops most people from seeking Knowledge because it asks us to give up things that we often enjoy but are not necessary for our lives. It is a process of reduction rather than addition that leads to this connection with Holy Spirit. And giving things away that we enjoy takes determination! Ask anyone who has tried to quit smoking, or any drug.
Perhaps this is where Zen Buddhism and the New Message have the most in common: in the reduction of one’s life to the most essential, the most core aspects of our being that are uncontaminated by the world, our family and our culture. Once this happens, we can begin to connect with who we are beyond this lifetime.
But the New Message isn’t as austere as Zen Buddhism. The New Message has compassion for people and our worldly habits by asking us to take care of the personal mind and its desires by enjoying simple things:
God wills that everyone have stability and security and adequate provision, and beyond this, simple things for the enjoyment of life. – God’s Will for Humanity
There must be determination in Living the Way of Knowledge and there must be some fun along the way.
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