How Do I Take Responsibility for My Life?

Zen practice emphasizes “no self” and often involves doing things that don’t make rational sense. How, then, can we also exercise appropriate self-responsibility?

Consider this koan, “Jeffrey: Dr. Doctor Rides the Bus,” from from The Book of Householder Koans by Eve Marko and Wendy Egyoku Nakao:

Dr. Doctor had a common cold, but he still rode the bus to work. He began to cough and sneeze into his handkerchief. Every time he coughed, all the people on the bus tried to cough. Every time he sneezed, all the people on the bus tried to sneeze. Finally the doctor exited at his destination. “Whew!” the driver signed. “What would we do without good medical advice?”

On the one hand, it’s a silly story. But on the other, the story raises a serious question about Zen practice.

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