“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.” Henry David Thoreau
Sometimes, the best way to refocus and turn down the noise is to simplify our lives and the way we do things… The constant din around us; voices, things, people urging us on to do, to be, to become, and then we must stop. Put a stop to the braying and turn within… all answers are there. We are enough. Below are a few Zen stories and a blog hop. I will add the blog hop rules below shortly. How do you simplify your life to become more zen like?
Bankei was a renowned Japanese Zen master who was honored with the title of “national teacher” after his death.
One day the disciple of another master met him and inquired, “My master can perform many miracles. He can walk on water. When his disciples stand on one river bank with a sheet of paper, he can write on it standing on the other bank. What can you do?”
“Here we don’t do much. When we’re hungry, we eat. When we’re thirsty, we drink. When sleepy, we sleep. That’s all. No Miracles,” replied Bankei.
Two monks were returning to the monastery in the evening. It had rained and there were puddles of water on the road sides. At one place a beautiful young woman was standing unable to walk across because of a puddle of water. The elder of the two monks went up to a her lifted her and left her on the other side of the road, and continued his way to the monastery.
In the evening the younger monk came to the elder monk and said, “Sir, as monks, we cannot touch a woman ?”
The elder monk answered “yes, brother”.
Then the younger monk asks again, “but then Sir, how is that you lifted that woman on the roadside ?”
The elder monk smiled at him and told him ” I left her on the other side of the road, but you are still carrying her.”
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“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.” Frederic Chopin
Empty Your Cup
A university professor went to visit a famous Zen master. While the master quietly served tea, the professor talked about Zen. The master poured the visitor’s cup to the brim, and then kept pouring. The professor watched the overflowing cup until he could no longer restrain himself. “It’s overfull! No more will go in!” the professor blurted. “You are like this cup,” the master replied, “How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup.”
More Is Not Enough – The Stone Cutter
There was once a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with himself and with his position in life. One day he passed a wealthy merchant’s house. Through the open gateway, he saw many fine possessions and important visitors. “How powerful that merchant must be!” thought the stone cutter. He became very envious and wished that he could be like the merchant.
To his great surprise, he suddenly became the merchant, enjoying more luxuries and power than he had ever imagined, but envied and detested by those less wealthy than himself. Soon a high official passed by, carried in a sedan chair, accompanied by attendants and escorted by soldiers beating gongs. Everyone, no matter how wealthy, had to bow low before the procession. “How powerful that official is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a high official!”
Then he became the high official, carried everywhere in his embroidered sedan chair, feared and hated by the people all around. It was a hot summer day, so the official felt very uncomfortable in the sticky sedan chair. He looked up at the sun. It shone proudly in the sky, unaffected by his presence. “How powerful the sun is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the sun!”
Then he became the sun, shining fiercely down on everyone, scorching the fields, cursed by the farmers and laborers. But a huge black cloud moved between him and the earth, so that his light could no longer shine on everything below. “How powerful that storm cloud is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a cloud!”
Then he became the cloud, flooding the fields and villages, shouted at by everyone. But soon he found that he was being pushed away by some great force, and realized that it was the wind. “How powerful it is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be the wind!” Then he became the wind, blowing tiles off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees, feared and hated by all below him. But after a while, he ran up against something that would not move, no matter how forcefully he blew against it – a huge, towering rock. “How powerful that rock is!” he thought. “I wish that I could be a rock!”
Then he became the rock, more powerful than anything else on earth. But as he stood there, he heard the sound of a hammer pounding a chisel into the hard surface, and felt himself being changed. “What could be more powerful than I, the rock?” he thought.
He looked down and saw far below him the figure of a stone cutter.
Some of us look at what we have with dissatisfaction, ignoring the gift of our skills, and then we complicate our lives by working ourselves up into a frenzy over things that are not ours to have. We lose our calm, our focus, our center because our wants have overtaken our wisdom and then, in a flash of recognition, in a eureka moment, we find ourselves back where we belong; at square one… Wherever we go, there we are. Simplify the wants, the desires… what is ours will always come back looking for us. More Below.
“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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A rich man asked Sengai to write something for the continued prosperity of his family so that it might be treasured from generation to generation.
Sengai obtained a large sheet of paper and wrote: “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies.”
The rich man became angry. “I asked you to write something for the happiness of my family! Why do you make such a joke of this?”
“No joke is intended,” explained Sengai. “If before you yourself die your son should die, this would grieve you greatly. If your grandson should pass away before your son, both of you would be brokenhearted. If your family, generation after generation, passes away in the order I have named, it will be the natural course of life. I call this real prosperity.”
The Present Moment
A Japanese warrior was captured by his enemies and thrown into prison. That night he was unable to sleep because he feared that the next day he would be interrogated, tortured, and executed. Then the words of his Zen master came to him, “Tomorrow is not real. It is an illusion. The only reality is now.” Heeding these words, the warrior became peaceful and fell asleep.
We can choose a life of repose or a life of scrambling around from spot to spot in search of … what? Relax, become Zen like. There is nothing out there. It is in here; inside us. What are your thoughts? What do you do to simplify your life? Would you be ready to let go of everything in a flash? Do share! Thank you.
Positive Motivation Tip: Do what you can and keep the rest simple… Live life with ease.
- A Master Faces Anger (kemposensei.wordpress.com)
- How to Simplify Your Life (mraybould.wordpress.com)
- Musings: If Money Didn’t Matter… (eof737.wordpress.com)
- Empty your cup (moonandshadow.wordpress.com)