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Musings: Keep It Simple & Blog Hop…

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“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

Musings: Keep It Simple & Blog Hop… Simplify your life; tune out the noise…

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?

Simple Miracles
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.

The Burden
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

Musings: Keep It Simple & Blog Hop… if you are going round the bend… simplify

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

Musings: Keep It Simple & Blog Hop… A simple fire burns away all karma… simplify

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Real Prosperity
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.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos  Pencils in Frame – Henry David Thoreau Quote, Around the Bend, via Wikipedia…  Simple Fire by Fly again via Flickr.  Stories via Rider Univ

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

37 Comments leave one →
  1. 28/09/2011 12:30 am

    Eliz, I really needed to read this post tonight, as I am feeling quite overwhelmed. Thanks Miriam

    • 28/09/2011 12:32 am

      TY Miriam,
      I’ve actually been thinking of you lately as I haven’t seen a post from you…
      I was going to stop by and say hello! I needed this too… So much going on.
      I needed a simplify break and reminder too. TY for stopping by…
      Blessings! 🙂

  2. 28/09/2011 12:55 am

    I’m in Elizabeth..just off to connect with the others!

  3. 28/09/2011 5:38 am

    I love the stone cutter story! So very true!

    • 28/09/2011 7:28 pm

      Isn’t it…? We have all these wants that we ignore what we already have that is amazing… TY! 🙂

  4. 28/09/2011 7:12 am

    Simplify. . . something I am in the process of learning now as we are paring down our lives and I am loving every minute of it! Life is “cleaner” and leaner, more peaceful, enjoyable. Free…that’s the word I’m looking for. We are in a tiny apartment with only the essential “things” and I feel freer than I’ve felt in years. I can attest to the value of keeping it simple! Thank you for your timely post.

    • 28/09/2011 7:30 pm

      You know, I can relate to that experience too… Sometimes, the bloating that come with excess is not a good feeling. I can definitely see the Zen in things of late. TY! and blessings on settling in. 🙂

  5. 28/09/2011 8:45 am

    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.

    I am. That is enough.

    • 28/09/2011 7:32 pm

      Yes… We are enough and that is enough… TY! 🙂

  6. 28/09/2011 9:24 am

    Hi Eliz! I’ll follow along on your blog hop because you know I love to hop!
    Big hugs to you.

    • 28/09/2011 7:33 pm

      Hi dear one!
      Glad to see you again. Must check to see if there is a new post from you. TY! 🙂

  7. 28/09/2011 9:26 am

    Loved the Stone Cutter and Real Prosperity stories. Thanks for the Blog Hop info!

    • 28/09/2011 7:35 pm

      Thank you Freedom and I enjoyed reading them too… What resonated with you? TY! 🙂

      • 29/09/2011 3:02 pm

        Of course the Stone Cutter was just another clever way to tell the tale of “The Grass is always greener…” And one I hadn’t read before. The Real Prosperity was a home run. Because when you think about it, what is your biggest fear as a parent? That something awful (and what’s more awful than death) will happen to your child. The natural progression of life is for the child to outlive their parents. My heart is wrenched whenever anyone loses a child, whether that child is 3 or 23 or 63, it’s hard on the parent that is still living.

  8. 28/09/2011 9:55 am

    So very True. When we simplify our lives, we see our real purpose. It leads us to a meaningful and happy life. It opens our hearts to God’s blissful words, and his plans for us. Every word in this post brings me closer to a life filled with blessings. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post.

    • 28/09/2011 7:38 pm

      TY dear Island Traveler! I agree completely. Sometimes we push and fight to get ahead, forgetting that a step back and a recognition of a greater force will make things run smoothly. I was reflecting on that yesterday and the post came to me… I needed to work on that too. TY! 🙂

  9. 28/09/2011 10:14 am

    I have been working on simplifying my life for quite a while. I’m not sure it’s something you discover is done…ever.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • 28/09/2011 7:40 pm

      Well said Barb!
      It is a work in progress and life long… However, we must be conscious about our desire to simplify and that we don’t have to push so aggressively for what we need… wants are something else entirely 😆
      TY dear! 🙂

  10. 28/09/2011 11:48 am

    I love these stories. Most I’m familiar with from my time in a Zen monastery, sitting, studying. Good to be reminded, especially in the time of returning to the earth, of simplicity.

    Thank you for an elegant post.

  11. 28/09/2011 12:49 pm

    To me? I’m not so sure simplicity is the answer. In simplicity, one can become envious as the stone cutter. . I think the key to your post is perspective. It’s all in how you look at things whether you can relax with them or become overwhelmed. (said as a person who fights for a living- lol!) 🙂

    • 28/09/2011 7:53 pm

      But the Stone Cutter soon found out that he was stronger than the rock… He does need both perspective and a zen approach which is to simplify his wants…
      I hear you Karen… we need to check in with ourselves before/when we look at things as that helps too. TY for your insight as it made me look again at the subject…
      One quote I didn’t use but helps explain this is from Albert Einstein “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” So simplify here is about paying attention to what truly matters to us… not the excesses and not just accepting everything without thought in a simplistic way. Does this clarify my call to “Simplify?” TY! 🙂

  12. 28/09/2011 10:31 am

    I read this post two times. This post actually reminded and reprimanded me. I need to make my life more simple. Sometime I didn’t realize that I made something which should be simple become complicated.

    Thank you for sharing this Eliz


    • 28/09/2011 7:43 pm

      TY Yulia! You are not alone in that fact. It does happen to all of us at different points in our lives. Some soon recognize what’s going on and work on changing, while others remain oblivious to it all. Thanks again for your feedback and please don’t be hard on yourself. To err is human… TY! 🙂

  13. 28/09/2011 5:43 pm

    Hey Eliz, I need to subscribe from [email protected] it is going to my yahoo account…just need that. Any Ideas?
    I found a job doing Security off Tue Wed for two weeks, but not sure on schedule hope it is 4-12midnights. Wish me luck. As usual your blog is an inspiration to all and to learn to simplify is a challenge but with the economy right now I think it’s great that others are following suit.

    • 28/09/2011 7:58 pm

      Hi Jackie,
      Best wishes on your new job and I pray that all stabilizes with this one… One way to do it is to subscribe with your gmail account when you are not logged into WordPress. It shouldn’t be a problem and my subscription button is at the top of the page; I removed the Follow button at the bottom of my blog. TMI … 😆
      TY for you or your kind words and please keep us posted! 🙂

  14. 28/09/2011 8:55 pm

    Loved the stone cutter story. Little by little as I declutter, I simplify. I’ll get there.

    • 28/09/2011 10:45 pm

      Ditto… Step by step like the smart turtle… we arrive at our destination. TY! 🙂

  15. 28/09/2011 9:20 pm

    Yes, yes, I am all about simplifying! I have, in my simpleness, been not always posting daily lately and also not visiting as many blogs, but I’m trying to be ok with that. I need my simple space too much and so am taking more breaks from the computer!

    • 28/09/2011 10:48 pm

      I hear you… It is becoming more so as we wind down and enter the final quarter of the blogging challenge… folk are tired, busy, resolved to meet other obligations, and then some of us are dealing with other changes… Amidst it all, we realize that it’s all okay… We are enough. TY for stopping in! 🙂

  16. 29/09/2011 5:46 pm

    One easy way in which I’ve simplified my life is by skipping serious cleaning.

    No, I’m serious. I assigned that to Ba.D. and reclaimed a little quiet time for myself in the evenings, after Li’l D’s laid down.

    I can’t take an immaculate house with me. I can, however, spread a lot more joy and love by making sure i have a few moments to myself every evening. 🙂

    • 30/09/2011 12:01 am

      It is important to spend that me time and family time and the other things will just have to wait… We do not live in the days of vacuum cleaner ads and such. I get it! TY 🙂

  17. 03/10/2011 6:16 pm

    Since I’m moving, I’ve been forced to simplify big time! As I decide what to take and what to leave, I’m reminded of the times when everything I had could fit into a suitcase or two and I wasn’t any less happy. Sometimes, the ‘stuff’ just gets into our way or blinds us to the really important things.


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