“What is the most important thing in the world?” was the question Genpo Roshi asked at Sunday’s Zen Center session. The question flashed my mind back to my first calling as a Primary teacher umpteen years ago. The Primary President gave new teachers a small book of gospel basics by Mary Pratt Parrish. Unlike Mormon Doctrine and the dull manual currently used in Priesthood/Relief Society classes, this book radiated charm and personality as it taught Mormon principles. Sister Parrish posed the same question as Roshi. “What is the most important thing in the world?” Unlike a Buddhist, Sister Parrish answered the question: “The most important thing in the world is the gospel. If you lost your family, friends, home, even your life, the gospel would restore it all for eternity.”
Curiously, this answer rang true to my young self, but fails to satisfy me now that I’m much closer to the end. What I’ve learned from living is that life is precious and all too brief. And the thought of an eternal reunion is scant compensation for lives cut short.
So, what is the most important thing to me? I really don’t know. And I doubt there’s a right answer to the question. When my children were young, it was probably them. When I taught, it was probably my work—at least that’s where I spent my time and energy. With the wisdom of age, I think it’s folly to place another human being or a job, no matter how fulfilling, as the most important thing. People, work, possessions, even our health and minds can all be lost.
I think it’s a good question to ask ourselves; however, and I suspect our answers will vary as we progress through life. George, who is not a Buddhist, gave a very Zen answer to the question: “The most important thing is Here and Now.”