Going Into Hell With Unflagging Optimism
“Jizo Bodhisattva goes into hell to help and has unflagging optimism that life can transform. How could I possibly have unflagging optimism in the face of the difficulties of our 21st century life? I can have it in my attitude to the moment-to-moment activity in my life and the willingness to do concrete things in ordinary life to help the whole. This is to live in connection with wholeness and gratitude, and to have a generous attitude towards how I live my one precious human life.”
I have had a connection with Jizo for a good decade now. When I first arrived at zen center, our former head teacher introduced us to a book about Jizo by Jan Chozen Bays from Great Vow Monastery, and I fell in love. Something about this bodhisattva figure just drew me in. Awhile back, I started using Jizo’s manta, on kaka kabi sanmaei sowaka, to cut through anger and support me while I am biking. Urban biking can be quite precarious, but I’ve experienced firsthand how power repeating a simple mantra while peddling can be.
So, I’m wondering how folks react to Byakuren’s question. What role does “unflagging optimism” play in your activist and/or service efforts? Or in your life in general?
Furthermore, do you find yourself sometimes skeptical of “optimism”? How might Jizo’s optimism be different from the commonplace binary of optimism/pessimism?
Those are just a few questions for exploring. I’d love to hear of your experiences with Jizo, or other bodhisattvas in your practice life, or in support of work you’re doing in the world.