Being Zen

By | July 12, 2015

If I were allowed only two words to describe the Way of Zen, they would be conscious living. Our modern lives tend to be quite un-Zen like: we tolerate a humdrum existence on the promise of a peak moment at some point in the future. It might be a concert, a movie, or connecting with an old friend. If nothing else, there is always the weekend or a distant vacation to dream about. Yet these events are over all too soon; and again, time drags on.

The stories in this book have helped put me and others back in touch with another way of living, where every event and every conversation becomes a peak experience. For me, it’s like being a child again, always engaged and finding fun—and mischief—wherever I find myself. I lost much of that in school, and in the process of becoming a responsible adult. It wasn’t until I started living life the way it is presented in the following stories that I was again able to be fully engaged in the moment and revel in its gifts.

My transformation didn’t happen overnight, and it often manifested in ways that took time to recognize. Yet in retrospect, I see how step-by-step I reclaimed my life from the doldrums of mere existence. With these stories’ guidance, I have been able to convert seemingly insignificant events into conscious ones. In doing so, I have gifted myself an awakened life.

And so I’ll leave you with one of my favorite Zen stories  in hopes that you too will garner some wisdom to hold as you walk through your day.

Leave Everything Behind

A story is told of an old man who was coming to the end of his days. He didn’t think he had anything to show for his time on earth, yet that’s not the biggest thing that troubled him—he wanted to become Awakened before he left. In despair, he went to a Hermit for help.

She met him at the gate to her garden and welcomed him. “My only request of you before entering,” she stated, “is that you leave your followers and belongings outside the gate.”

“But I have no followers,” he replied, “and I have no baggage. I have nothing but what you see.”

Still, he listened to her. After a time of reflection, he understood. In that moment, he became Awakened and entered the gate.

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