A Moment of Zen Could Be The Answer

A Moment of Zen Could Be The Answer

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I’ve just had my first Zen moment in Japan.

For a while now, I’ve been wrestling with what to do next with my life. Something we all face, at some stage.

I’m staying on the sacred island of Shikoku – hot springs and 88 main temples, plus 20 minor temples, to make up the magical 108. The temples are situated to create a mandala, as prescribed by Japan’s most famous son, the great Buddhist monk Kobo Daishi.

Maybe it’s the environment that has encouraged this moment of revelation.

The Japanese people display such beautiful humility, respect and care towards those around them. Everyone bows to you. Even the toilet seat welcomes you by opening automatically. And that’s only the half of it – heated seat, flushing noises, lights; hot water spurting upwards; warm dryer – all controlled from a dashboard like the cockpit of a Dreamliner 787!

Let’s get back to my enlightened Zen moment.

I was walking in Dogo Park. Dogo is not a breed of Japanese dog – dogo is “the way,” often to a temple. Then ‘it’ came to me.

The answer is all in the trees.

I stopped and observed how the trees were swaying in the soft wind. When the wind stilled, each tree stood upright; calm, motionless; only momentarily affected – in total surrender.

The tree accepts everything. If the wind blows, the branches move, gracefully with elegance and poise. The tree doesn’t resist: it knows it can’t. The tree retains its true nature of being, regardless of what is happening around it – accepting its fate come rain or shine.

Rather than accept life as it is, we tend to search for an answer, or disguise our unhappiness by following the old pattern of being busy – seeking more happiness through our relationships, careers or new activities. Of course, these can all contribute to creating a conducive environment for more inner contentment. Yet, how long does this kind of contentment last?

Unless we can cultivate more harmony, humility and joy in everything we do, the contentment inside us fades away.

This time around, instead of filling my time with new projects, I’ve done as little as possible, consciously observing this process over many months. Of course, I have the advantage of meditating every day, which helps to create the space for the internal process to unravel; but I never meditate looking for an answer.

If the answer doesn’t come, there’s nothing to do. Sometimes no answer is the answer.

Anyway, back to the trees. Like all Zen moments, the path takes time to reveal the way.

Trees live peacefully in harmony with their environment. They also give unconditionally: transforming carbon dioxide into oxygen; some bear fruit to feed us and others are cut down to provide us with warmth. They do it selflessly. Each tree lives its life moment by moment without expectation. They bear witness – with no need to interfere, judge or cause harm to others.

In total surrender, the tree seeks nothing and just does what it’s supposed to do.

Surrendering with love and smiling acceptance is the cornerstone of spiritual and personal development. Fortunately, even our darkest moments don’t last. Everything is as it is. Even if it doesn’t always suit us.

Real inner transformation and peace comes from observing our innate positive attitude and being more conscious of all the goodness within us – our true nature. We then become more receptive to new beginnings.

In one Zen moment, Nature has reminded me how to be.

And no – I haven’t been on the sake!

Notes from Marc

This was written by coffee buddy David Green (although he prefers Green Tea). David was a highly motivated entrepreneur who integrated meditation  into his busy and stressful career20 years ago. He authored the book The Invisible Hand in 2013. David was the first to tell me to do less and be more.

Have you had an experience when a moment of Zen made all the difference?

Share your stories and insights in the comments section below.

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  1. Bryan Marsh says

    My wife’s saying has always been “You are a human being, not a human doing”. As a healer myself, generally doing no harm, is all that matters…

  2. “Men are born soft and supple;
    dead, they are stiff and hard.
    Plants are born tender and pliant;
    dead they are brittle and dry.
    Thus, whoever is stiff and inflexible
    is a disciple of death.
    Whoever is soft and yielding
    is a disciple of life.
    The hard and stiff will be broken.
    The soft and supple will prevail.”

    TAO TE CHING – Chapter 76.

  3. Trees are pure wisdom. Great post.

  4. Love it as always 🙂

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