At the end of the old teacher's talk, one student raised his hand and asked: "Tell us, with all your knowledge and experience, is it - meditation practice - really worth it?" The master paused for a second. I secretly hoped for a resolute yes. And got instead a sobering "I don't know" response.
Last month, during another event, this time with one of America's most respected elders of American Buddhism, I had a similar experience. The old man was facing serious health problems and, you could tell from his talk, that he was having a lot of emotions about his condition. When he asked us, the people in the room, to share life experiences from which we had been able to draw trust, I felt as if the table had turned. The master did not seem so sure of himself anymore, and needed support from the community, to reassure him. The very real prospect of his possible near death had done a number on him.
I am no master. Only a beginning student with the enthusiasm of the newly awakened. And I wonder if the "Is it worth it?" question is not our own mind trying to trick us. Maybe the correct answer is to ignore the question?