One prominent Buddhist story tells of Avalokiteśvara vowing never to rest until (s)he had freed all sentient beings from samsara.

Despite strenuous effort, (s)he realizes that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his/her head splits into pieces. Buddha, seeing her/his plight, gives him/her eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering. Upon hearing these cries and comprehending them, Avalokiteśvara attempts to reach out to all those who needed aid, but found that her/his two arms shattered into pieces. Once more, Buddha comes to his/her aid and invests her/him with a thousand arms with which to aid the suffering multitudes.

In each arm is that which is needed at the moment, a hammer, a bible, a condum, a handkerchief, etc. etc.

When we experience the oneness of life we manifest not only as many heads and arms but as all the phenomena of the universe and we contain all the phenomena of the universe.

I’m Buddhist, but as you know, I’m also Jewish. The Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Many people know that word, but what they may not know is that the root of shalom is shalem, which means whole. To make something shalem, to make peace, is to make whole. In the Jewish mystical tradition it is said that at the time of the Creation, God’s light filled a cup, but that the light was so strong that it shattered the cup into fragments scattered throughout the universe. (sounds like Avalokiteśvara, eh?)

And the role of the righteous person, the mensch, is to bring the fragments back and connect them together to restore the cup. That’s what I mean by peace. For me, peace means whole. The Hebrew Oseh Shalom is peacemaker, as in the verse “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the Earth.” They shall work to restore the fragments into a whole.

And in Zen, as you know, our practice is to experience that wholeness, the oneness and interconnectedness of life and, in my opinion, to serve all of our aspects.

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