No matter how many years you sit doing zazen, you will never become anything special.
— Kodo Sawaki Roshi
I still live under the delusion that I’m somehow special. A friend of mine recently told me she used to smoke cigarettes. I confessed that that’s one of the habits about which I still am judgemental. And immediately upon saying this, I realized I had put my foot in my mouth. (I need to work on “Right Speech” too.) Having spoken unwisely, this conversation stuck with me. Upon reflecting on this, I realized I was no different. Just the other night, I warmed up a slice of pizza that I really didn’t need. I wasn’t particularly hungry. I just had a craving for a slice of pizza. It hit me like a ton of bricks… who am I to be judgemental when I too succumb to temptation, even knowing full well, that eating when I don’t need to causes my harm. (I am about 30 lbs. overweight.) Since this insight, I’ve been looking for other judgements I have for which I’m equally guilty. I did find another. I have been known to look down on missionaries who go knocking door to door. And yet, in their heart, are they any different from me? Me, who eagerly posts temple services and activities on Facebook, Meetup, and Nextdoor? Me, who never misses an opportunity to encourage Buddhist curious people to join our meditation services via Zoom, or better yet, in person? These missionaries are no different from me. I have shed many judgements, so finding a few lingering judgements made me feel shame. And here, I’m judging myself. Judgement does have a way of sneaking its way into our thoughts. So, to my friend who occasionally smokes, I thank you for being my teacher. You’ve helped me realize our sameness. The universal sameness that is right in front of our faces, and yet unappreciated all too often.