After long discussions with a friend on esoteric matters, we would often say to each other, "Everything Matters and Nothing Matters." We would say this to each other with smiles, but we were deadly serious.
This paradox is quite profound. To ponder it allows for mindfulness in everything, while also allowing for non attachment. There is spaciousness in this as well as limits -- room for action and rest, initiating and releasing. Quite healthy mentally, when practiced.
Zen uses koans to break dualistic thinking and force it into another dimension. They are often paradoxical and or non sensical. "Nothing matters and everything matters," is like a koan and it keeps the paradox alive and working 24/7.
Everything matters because everything that we do relates to what exists. Especially with people and animals, being helpful and kind make a difference in their lives. As long as there are bodies, things are needed, some more than others.
Everything matters because every hair on your head, and your neighbors head are counted. You need help, and they need help, physically and mentally, and spiritually. In all ways, some things are more beneficial than others.
Nothing matters in the sense that we are not in control of the universe. As humans we are limited. There is only so much we can do, despite our wishes to the contrary. We can help, but we may not be able to save the world.
Essentially the statement being discussed here is similar to the Buddhist saying that "We are responsible for the effort, but not for the results." Either way we say it, the essential meaning is the same. Embrace your humanness, make the effort to help, but know your limits.
You can contribute, you can be kind, but you may not be able to change the human condition. Do what you can, be helpful, be kind, but don't be a doormat. Take a little humbleness, and leave guilt behind.
You were meant to be "in the world" and take your part. You were not meant to be "of the world," controlled by it, or totally consumed by it. By acknowledging your limits, you empower yourself to do what you can, without guilt.
So smile at your neighbor. Help your friend. Turn the other cheek when you are able. Speak your mind and bite your tongue. Both are allowed. Either can be chosen. Just practice mindfulness as to your choice.
Remember the "Law of the Ladder" and do not try to drag someone unwillingly to your level. Neither berate yourself for not springing up the ladder, three rungs at a time. "There is a time, there is a season, to every purpose under heaven."
~ Maury Lee 5/1/2008 ~