Acceptance like a Zen master; Is that so

There was a Zen master who lived a peaceful, illuminated life of acceptance.   He was a source of wisdom for the local community.  Within the community, there was a respected family with one daughter of 18 years age.

The daughter was pregnant and soon her belly became too large to conceal.  Her enraged father demanded to know who was responsible.  Initially the daughter resisted telling but eventually in tears muttered the name of the Zen master.  The father stormed to the house of the Zen master and confronted him, “You have fathered a child with my young daughter, you swine!”  The Zen master replied “Is that so”.

Her baby was born a few weeks later; a healthy boy.  Her father immediately took the child and gave it to the Zen master shouting, ‘Here! it’s your child! you look after it”. The Zen master replied, “Is that so”.

A year later the daughter confessed to her family that the father was actually a handsome young man who worked at the local baker store.  The father returned to the Zen master, he explained the huge error.  The Zen master replied, “Is that so” and handed the baby back to the father.


The Zen master was able to accept all manner of circumstance without feeling a need for complaint or objection.  Can we do the same?


I try to remember this story throughout the challenges of life.  Sometimes facing a situation, an attack in words, or some other circumstance.  I try to find the space to stop and say “is that so” and in doing so try to avoid the need to complain or wish otherwise.

A word of caution, however, some people will react with more hostility if you speak, “is that so”.  So I often find its better to just think it without muttering the words.

 

 

 

Enter Zen from there; A simple Zen story of how to find peace

A learning student of Zen practice was out for a stroll with a more experienced teacher. They walked through the mountains near their accommodation.  Majestic views, a cool evening, everything so calm, truly a blissful environment to walk.

After some time the student said to his friend, “I am trying to find Zen* but I keep thinking about where best to begin and how to do it”.

They continue walking for a few minutes. The student, lost now in further worry, begins to think his friend might not have heard the remark.  He opens his mouth to speak again when his teacher comments. “Do you hear the steam? Enter Zen from there.”

The student listens for a minute or two, paying attention until he eventually hears the sound of a distant stream.  “Satori”** He realised something he could not express.

They continue walking and for the first time the student experiences all there is around him.  After some time however, his mind intrudes upon this peace.  He asks his teacher, “What would you have said if I could not hear the stream? If I heard or saw something else?” 

His teacher responds, “Enter Zen from there.”


We can choose to enter mindful alertness and find peace at any time using anything. I find myself guilty of demanding the ‘right’ circumstances sometimes.  But, we can instead just choose to be alert and alive to the unfolding moments.  Don’t let the mind make excuses or conjure layers of complexity.

We can enter Zen from anywhere!


*Zen – Something words cannot describe, but perhaps the state of completeness with the universe, mindfulness, alertness, presence.

**Satori – A sudden realisation or enlightenment.

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