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Having Great Zeal

When I was senior high school student in Korea, I would see fist fights among students. One day, two students in the same classroom were involved in a fight that became too violent for students to stop. Even the homeroom teacher was too overwhelmed and couldn’t stop it.

While I was looking at the scene, I thought that if people are as passionate and focused as that, they can be successful at anything.

Insects such as fleas easily adhere to dogs and cats, so, it is necessary to remove them occasionally. But, such bugs are not able to survive on poultry. This is because poultry has such warm blood and body. Their body becomes, in fact, too hot for bugs to inhabit.

There are many difficulties and challenging situations as we try to accomplish certain goals in our lives. Our success or failure depends on how well we overcome those difficulties and tests, whether they involve our workplace or human relationships.

One of the fundamental ways to overcome difficulties is to have a ‘blood-boiling passion or zeal’. Just as the fight between those students was too aggressive to be stopped, and we see that no bug can inhabit a chicken’s body due to its hot blood, if we possess a blood-boiling passion or zeal to accomplish our goal, then we can overcome any obstacles and hardships.

The US faced one of its greatest tragedies in the 21st century on September 11th, 2001. Right after the incident President George Bush made an urgent announcement to his fellow Americans and sought the cooperation of the international community in order to eradicate Al-Qaeda, the prime suspect for the terrorist action. I remember what President Bush said at the end of his statement: “Are you with us or against us?”  He was asking other nations to clearly indicate their stance of being for the US or against the US. This may be a political statement, but for our spiritual practice, I felt that the statement was a great lesson.

There is a common expression, “Sunday Christian,” which refers to followers of other traditions who live torn between the secular world and the spiritual teachings of saints and sages. These people cannot bring success either in their work or their faith life and practice.

There is a Christian saying, “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” This means those people will be excluded from God’s plan for salvation.

The Scripture of Won Buddhism states four factors of success in our daily work and living: belief, zeal, a questioning mind, and dedication. This means that if we pursue anything as studying and actualizing it with belief, zeal, questioning mind, and dedication, we can be successful in any and everything that we do.

‘Zeal’ is the English word translated from the Chinese character 분, which literally means ‘anger.’ When a person becomes angry at something, he or she will focus on it, which removes all distractions and generates intense energy. It is said that this zeal or passion is a driving force which can achieve anything. Energy is required to move an object in the natural world. Likewise zeal is the driving force for success in everything we do.

The reason for a bulldog or a pit bull terrier being used for dogfights is because they won’t release their opponent once they bite. In fact these fighting dogs sometimes get severely injured by such fighting. But the spirit of acting “by death” or “at the risk of one’s death is a very crucial factor for us, or for animals to become successful in this competitive society.

Buddha didn’t great enlightenment in spite of his six years of extreme ascetic practice on the snowy mountains of the Himalayas. According to the scripture, Buddha sat down under a bodhi tree with a great determination, “I won’t stand up from this seat until I finally realize the universal truth, even if my bones are broken and my flesh gets all rotten”. The following morning, he was enlightened to the truth of the universe as he was watching stars at early dawn.

Let’s reflect upon whether there is a clear goal for our lives. Let’s contemplate the degree of our determination to do anything with great zeal and passion. If we have these two, a clear life goal and a great zeal to accomplish it, we will succeed in anything.

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