What you believe is your own business

If you come to the Zen Center, nobody asks what you believe, and nobody tells you what to believe. We tell you our practice forms: how to meditate, how to chant and so on. What you believe is your own business.

When I was growing up, my Orthodox Jewish relatives didn't ask what I believed or tell me what to believe either. They told me to go to services, to keep kosher and to observe the Sabbath.

More important than belief is practice, and more essential to practice are what in Zen are called great faith, great courage and great doubt.

Great faith doesn't mean faith in something, or faith that things will turn out your way. Faith needs no object. It's living life in the way your foot meets the ground in walking. Your foot never wonders if the ground is there for it.

Great courage means not giving up. Changing course is no problem, but you have to keep going. Great courage doesn't have to be dramatic either. Every time you do something that's a little difficult or a little unpleasant, and do it without complaining, and do it until you're finished, that's great courage, right there.

Great doubt is most important. People think religion is about belief, but it isn't. What am I? What is this universe? What should I do? These are not questions that can be answered once and for all. Don't evade them. Find a spiritual practice that helps you look at them steadily, and then practice with great faith and courage.

Belief comes and goes. Even if you believe in God your whole life, your idea of God is always changing. But spiritual practice is not dependent on belief, and it can last a lifetime.

Jarris, J., & Roitman, J. (2008, November 15). Faith Forum: What do I do if I don’t believe? Lawrence Journal World. Retrieved Jan 9, 2014

Zen Master Bon Haeteachings