When I’m asked to describe the Buddhist teachings, I say this:
Everything is connected; nothing lasts; you are not alone.
Though it may seem like restatement of the traditional Three Marks of Existence: impermanence (anicca,無常), suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkhā,苦) and not-self (anattā,空), i think it encapsules the teaching quite well.
If you leave them out, you're missing the important core of buddhist teachings and in doing that you miss an important core of zen buddhist teachings.
As i'm going to be a priest soon i often get questions like the the one above.
I also get a lot of reactions from people.
These reactions differ from people who think i am crazy to people who run like crazy to people that want to know more.
These reactions tie together nicely with how i explain the core of buddhist teachings.
People who think i am crazy, is showing that everything is connected.
Because where do they get the notion of what crazy is?
How have they learned what it is?
How can they put a label on you if you're not connected in some way?
And just a reminder, at the same time that they put they label on you, they put a label on themselves.
It may be unconsciously, but it's placed.
People who run away is showing us that nothing lasts.
Even this meeting that you had with this person didn't last.
Often these meetings with these persons has gone pretty good right up to the point when religion/Buddhism has been raised.
After that, it's all lost, already showing that nothing lasts.
People who want to know more, is sensing that they're not alone and want to understand things that happens around them.
These people often, in my sense, has had some encounter with buddhism/religion before and is open at heart - open in mind.
Meeting these people, for me, is valuable.
I'm not saying some are better than others.
They're all good practice.
Thank you for you're practice.