All Is Well in the Great Mess

"That which I have said is only like the few leaves in my hand. And that which I have not said is like the dry leaves in this forest."

Look closer

You can't save time.
You can only spend it.
But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.

-- Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

You don't matter

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

-- Maya Angelou

If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid
in extraneous matters — don’t wish to seem knowledgeable.
And if some regard you as important, distrust yourself.

-- Epictetus

The Old Man in The Park

Once there was a young man walking in the street, he was 25 years old and was lost in his thoughts. He was thinking about the future, about his goals, about his purpose in his life, about his family’s health, and also he was thinking about his past, his mistakes, his embarrassments, his bad decisions, and all of these thoughts were making him very anxious and frustrated. He didn’t know what to do with his life, he was 25 years old and going nowhere, with no prospects, no real goals, with nothing planned, his life was passing him by like a flash and he couldn’t keep up. Then he reached a park, the park was huge and had a lot of vegetation, and this intrigued him since he never saw anything quite like that before, and this young man decided to enter the park and explore.

The young man loses himself in the magnificence of the park, and wonders how come he never even saw this park before, how is it that this park has always been there and he never saw it. And he saw several animals in that park just wandering around, just like he was doing. And at some point, he reaches the center of the park, and he notices that there’s only one person at the very center of the park, sitting next to a tree on the floor. He approaches the person and realizes that it’s an old man meditating next to the tree. This old man looked so peaceful and relaxed, like he wasn’t even part of the world, and at the same time like he was in perfect tune with the tranquility and serenity of the park and the wind. The young man was very intrigued by this old man and wanted to ask him how he was so peaceful, but he understood the old man's meditative state and decided to sit in front of him and wait until the old man finished his meditation.

10 minutes passes, and the old man opens his eyes. To the old man's surprise, there was a young man in front of him also meditating. The old man didn’t notice the young man approaching him and didn’t hear his footsteps. He was so focused and immersed in his meditative state that he didn’t notice the young man until he opened his eyes. The young man quickly opened his eyes and said hi to the old man, the old man replied back with another hi. The young man excused himself for interrupting his meditation, and explained to the old man that he was so intrigued by his peace that he wanted to ask him about it. The young man asked the old man: How come you are so peaceful? What kind of life have you lived to achieve such peace in this wretched world? I would like to achieve the level of peace that you have achieved.

The old man looked at the young man as if he was studying him, and was silent for about 10 seconds, as if he was thinking very carefully about his words of choice and how he was about to answer the young man’s questions. “Young man”, said the old man, “my life has been a wild ride. I’ve fought in 3 wars. I’ve survived 2 car accidents, my wife died right in my arms as she was battling with cancer and lost, my mother died right in front of me as she was crossing the street and a truck hit her, my father died shortly after my mother, he commited suicide. I was laid off from my job in the middle of my wife’s passing. I was drowned in debts and at some point I lost everything I had. I was homeless. I was a homeless man, with no wife, with no parents, with no money, without any indication of things getting any better in the foreseeable future, with no friends, nothing. The only thing I had at my disposal was my suicidal thoughts and crippling depression and anxiety. My breakfasts consisted of suicidal thoughts. My lunches consisted of panic attacks, and my dinners consisted of pure despair and hopelessness.”

“Until I reached my limit. At that moment I just asked life why? Why is it all happening to me? What did I do so wrong that I have to go through all of this? Why did I lose everything? I was asking all of these questions and the only answers I got was the cold of the street and the even colder looks of the people walking by. So I decided it was enough and I went to the tallest bridge and climbed it to the very top. I was determined to jump, so much so that I already took it for granted, I was already dead and I was just going to make it a reality. My conviction of taking my own life was so great, that right before I jumped, I felt such bliss. I was feeling liberated and blissful, and I was so confused because I was at the worst lowest of my life and yet, at that moment, right before taking my own life, I was feeling the very best I’ve ever felt in my life.”

The young man was intently listening to the old man’s story. The old man continued: “At that very moment I realized what was happening, it’s like a divine answer came right from the heavens. Do you want to know why I was feeling so good at that moment, young man?” the old man asked. The young man replied: “Yes, please tell me sir.”

The old man said: “It was being detached from everything. Right as I was about to take my own life, nothing mattered anymore. Nothing was important to me anymore. At that moment, money was not a concern, my pain was not a concern, not having any friends was not a concern, nothing was important, since I was about to die anyways. At that moment I understood that we feel pain because we are attached to things and people, that having desires is what creates pain in us since by not having something that we want, we feel bad about it. At that moment, since nothing mattered anymore, I was the happiest man alive. Having realized this, I wanted to try my new realization with life and see what happens, afterall, I was going to die anyway, so I had nothing to lose. ”

The old man makes a pause, and thinks profoundly for a moment. After a little while, the old man continued: “The first thing I did was get down from the bridge. Then I decided that the very next thing I was going to do was to let go of all desires. I no longer wanted my wife back, I accepted her departure and let her go. I no longer wanted my parents back, I accepted their departure and let them go. I no longer wanted to have money anymore, I accepted life as it was and continued to move on. I no longer wanted anything anymore. The only thing I wanted was just to sit in a place and feel my own breathing, feel my own body and be still, to sit with my own thoughts and be with them, with my emotions, not trying to understand them nor trying to hide them, but just being with them. And so I did just that. I sat in the corner of a shop where the shadow of the shop was guarding me from the sun, and I started meditating. Then after some time I start to hear money dropping into a plastic cup that was coincidentally just next to me. When I opened my eyes, there were people getting out of the shop and dropping money into that cup. So I had money to eat that day. The same kept happening day by day and I was not worrying about it at all. And then one day a man approaches me and asks me if I want a job at gardening, which I then accepted. So now not only was I having money everyday to eat, but now I had a job. With that job, I managed to save 100 dollars and started a little business of buying candies and I started reselling them in the streets when I was not working. So now I had 2 sources of income. With the money I was earning, I managed enough to get a haircut, several products to clean myself and take care of my hygiene, I bought some clothes, and other goods. Then my sales with the candies doubled after I made that change to my look. I was not worrying about my sales and about tomorrow and about my job, I was just doing what I had to do without worrying about the outcome, completely detached from it. One good day a man saw me selling the candies and he wanted to hire me to be a door to door salesman for his company, I accepted immediately. 1 year passed and I was making 50k in sales, I was doing so well that my boss gave me a promotion to manager. Another year passed and I was making 150k base salary + commissions from sales. At this point in my life, I had regained most of the things I had before, I had new friends, a very nice house, a car, the respect of people, health, money, insurances, practically everything. But there was 1 thing different this time, I was not worrying about any of that this time, I was not worrying about my job, about my friends, about my house, about paying the bills, I was just being, without a care in the world of what was going to happen tomorrow, I just focused in the present and didn’t worry at all about the future. I only wanted to meditate in the free time I had. Then with the clearance of mind that this mindset and meditating had brought me, an idea occurred to me. With the money I was earning, I started an online business. It was not doing very well in the beginning but I just kept going without worrying about the results, just focusing on improving the sales and improving the product and quality of the business, without caring about how it was going to result. And a couple of years pass and voila, the business is making more than a million dollars a month in sales. So there I am with a lot of money, being able to do practically anything I want, and the only desire I had at that moment was to just sit and be, and that, young man, is the reason why I am so peaceful, despite the kind of life I have. I am not attached to anything in this world. I do not care if my business tomorrow goes bankrupt, or if I go homeless again, or if I die. I understood that worrying is pointless and it solves nothing. Everyday I live in the moment and enjoy it as much as I can without worrying what will happen in the future or what will happen with the things I have. It doesn’t matter, you will deal with it eventually when they happen, but you are here now, you don’t know what will happen tomorrow but you do know what is happening now. Enjoying the present and being detached from everything is the reason why I am so peaceful and content.”

The young man was mesmerized by the old man’s story. The young man thanked the old man for his story and his answer, and now with this new wisdom, the young man stopped worrying about the future and about his life, and started to focus on what he had in front of him, on what he could do right now. He stopped thinking about what ifs and focused on creating a plan to better his life. He started to eat healthier, to do exercises, to meditate, he stopped distractions, and eventually he came up with a plan to make his dreams come true. The young man was not affected by anything anymore after that, and was able to make progress in his life without worrying about the outcome of it. The young man at last, found peace.

Source: unknown

Anyway: The Paradoxical Commandments

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

-- Kent M. Keith1968, renewed 2001

Please Call Me by My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, *11 October 1926 - †22 January 2022

We have a tendency to think
in terms of doing and not
in terms of being.

We think that when we’re not doing anything,
we’re wasting our time.

But that’s not true.

Our time is first of all
for us to be.

To be what?

To be alive, to be peaceful,
to be joyful, to be loving.

And this is what the world needs the most.

We all need to train ourselves in our way of being,
and that is the ground for all action.

Our quality of being
determines our quality of doing.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, *11 October 1926 - †22 January 2022

No coming, no going,
No after, no before,
I hold you close,
I release you to be free;
I am in you
And you are in me.

-- Thich Nhat Hanh, *11 October 1926 - †22 January 2022

The Zen Awards

Sometimes the scariest bridge to burn
is the one between you
and the person you thought you were.

-- Tanya Markul

It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.

-- Aristotle

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.

-- Marcus Aurelius

The Daily Stoic

The new year is coming to an end and for next year I already have a little surprise for all German speaking visitors:

Ryan Holiday's The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living

Enjoy reading and practicing. And if you like it and can afford it, please support the author by buying the book.

In a chaotic modern world seemingly designed to burn everyone out, slowing down is a profoundly positive act of rebellion.

-- Unknown Author