In addition to becoming more compassionate, and hopefully more wise as our Zen practice matures, we will do a lot of little things in our daily lives that may seem trivial, but aren’t.
If our Zen practice does not manifest itself in changes in our daily life, something is amiss. If our practice is sincere, we will change in many small ways and in a few big ways.
What could be more trivial than being diligent in keeping one’s tire pressures at an optimum level to conserve fuel? Should a Zen practitioner care about such things? Yes; living responsibly and not mindlessly is a part of Zen practice.
How about bringing re-usable grocery bags to the grocery store so that the answer to “paper or plastic?” is “neither”? Is that too trivial, too mundane a matter for a Zen practitioner to even consider? No, it isn’t.
Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs? Or better still, LEDs? Replacing water heater tanks with a tankless system? Should a Zen practitioner plant trees as a hobby to help offset global warming? Get off of junk mail lists and pay bills online to minimize paper use? Add insulation to an attic?
We can visit www.carbonfund.org and pay for auto and plane trips.
If a Zen practitioner ignores these things under the theory that the world is an illusion, and that he or she has transcended the need to think about such things, then his or her Zen practice is not authentic. An authentic Zen practice manifests itself not just in increased kindness to all living things, but in sustainable living as well.
Those who eat the flesh of slaughtered animals but who are at least making an effort to cut back on such consumption are on the right track and are to be encouraged. Those who study The Precepts, commit them to memory, and recite them every morning, but just can’t seem to follow them very well, are also on the right track. None but the enlightened follow them perfectly.
Those who practice Zen meditation while continuing to eat meat, ignoring The Precepts, mocking the concerns of environmentalists, shunning the sutras, all the while contending that their meditation practice trumps everything, are just hobbyists who think Zen is cool. The tile they are polishing will never become a mirror.