The Good News in Buddhism

Zen Master Wu Kwang: In Christianity, I believe the word gospel means good news. The good news in Buddhism is that everything is changing. When westerners first heard that kind of teaching about impermanence and transiency it was interpreted as a nihilistic and negative viewpoint. But, from the standpoint of Zen practice and Buddhism at large, the good news is that everything is changing and therefore we are not caught or stuck with any particular structure or configuration that we think we are locked into. So transiency or impermanence presents the possibility of change and unfoldment. And there’s a difference, of course, between suffering and difficulty.

To give a simple example, if you are on a hike and the road has been pretty flat up till now, and you come to a mountainous area and you’re gonna have to exert a lot of effort to walk up that hill and get to the other side, that’s a difficulty. How you respond to the difficulty is whether you create suffering or not. Suffering is a psychological state. It’s our response to something. Also, you could say from a fundamental standpoint, as long as we are engaged in ignoring what actually is, there will be some subtle sense of dissatisfaction. Dis-ease. The word that translates as suffering in English, coming from the Sanskrit, has multiple nuances and meanings. Suffering usually in English doesn’t have all those nuances. So, as long as we are not unencumbered and unhindered by our minds and by our estrangement both from our self and from our interconnectedness with others there will be a subtle feeling of dissatisfaction.

But when we begin to look at what actually is; then we begin to settle down and become clear and become connected both with our self and with the world around us.