My friend was telling me for the first time about spending a few years in Japan growing up. It seemed his very intelligent Rocket Scientist father was interested in Soto Zen and went to Japan with his family to study Zen more fully. And it seems my friend was also a monk for a while at Tasahara near Big Sur.
He seemed uncomfortable in approaching the subject but finally said, "In Soto Zen there are no souls. There is only one being in the universe composed of all life."
I looked at him and saw his suffering over my reaction to this. However, for me, God and the universe is not an intellectual description it is always a direct experience. So I said partly out of kindness towards him as a being and mainly just speaking the truth of my personal experience with all life in the universe, "The word soul is not a very useful one. It doesn't really describe what really is." And I meant it. "My experience of the universe in actuality is that God takes turns being all beings in the universe one at a time just for fun. And I can't really figure out for sure if he experiences being one of us at a time or everything full force all the time. But yes, there IS only one being in the universe. God is Us. God is all of us." From the smallest microbe to the smallest fly or knat to the biggest universe of universes it is all God. There is nothing but God-Life in the universe and it's all a game. Yes. It is a serious game but there are only two sins really, taking life too seriously and not taking it seriously enough. So, in the end living life correctly in God's eyes is all about compassion and balance. That's really it in a nutshell."
My friend smiled at me. I watched his head glow with holy fire from our experience talking. I guess I had passed his test. I guess we both just passed God's test for us both. I thought it very strange that this would happen the day of the 8.8 earthquake and tsunami but then again God is amazing isn't He, She, The Being?
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