Because Zen makes sense

Archive for the category “Zen”

Life is unpredictable

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd we have to live with that fact. We make plans, we try to foresee what’s gonna happen. Sometimes we succeed, but all to often the future becomes something quite different than we could imagine. And the reason is as simple as this: In all predictions in life there are to many variables we ny no means can control. And since everything is interconnected, every factor influence all other factors. After all, the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil can spur the formation of a tornado in Texas. The cascade of events is unpredictable to a large degree.

My wife, active, and in good physical condition, slipped on some spilled cherries in a supermarket, with a a broken hip as result. After surgery she has has now returned home. 6 weeks without any weightbearing on the broken leg, and then a slow rehabilitation periode. To her this is a radical change in life, at least for some time.

But my practical life has also changed. I have to dedicate more of my time to her and her needs, and since we run a home together, call it a joint venture, more duties shall be added to those I ususally have to deal with. She is bound to stay home. Me not so much, but my usual freedom to spend hours in office or on travel (my job is a combination) has suddenly become restricted. Happily I can work from home, I can organize my own work, and I can cancel all appointments that do not have the highest priority. My team of good colleges cover up for me. Actually it is no big problem to me, but, of course, a bigger problem for my wife.

Point is: This sudden change in life could never have been foreseen. This is what life is about: Things happen, things change, and we are affected in ways we never would have imagined. Life is fundamentally only change. And Zen is to ride this wave of change. For what else could we possibly do? But to often we try to change what can’t be changed, to cling to what we know shall pass, to crave for what we shall never have, and to wish for another time, another situation, or another condition. Zen is the opposite. Zen is to accept whatever happens, with an open mind and curiosity. For whatever that arises, good or bad, shall ultimately also always pass away. To be part of that eternal change, and of those never ending transitions, is life itself. There is nothing we can do to change that fact.

So the consequences of this hip fracture is rather interesting; The way this accident influence us, how we shall manage the situation, how I manage to combine work with my new duties, how empathic I manage to be during this periode of unusual stress, how I find practical solutions, how I shall react over time to the fact that I down-prioritize my work, and to observe what I actually can learn from this.

Thanks to an unpredictable life, I may get more insight, and perhaps even end up wiser?


End of a Vacation


The  Nordic summer is fading, – slowly, but unstoppable. We are hoping for a warm start of the Autumn, but mindfully we have to accept whatever emerges. This summer is the first in years that I have not travelled away, except for some minor “excursions”.

The Master understands without leaving,
sees clearly without looking,
accomplishes much without doing anything.

Tao Te Ching, McDonnald translation

This summarizes my summer pretty well. Apart from being a part time naturist this summer, i a very suitable weather for dropping the clothes, the summer has been a time for mindful approach towards all those minor incidents and experiences that we meet in our own houses and gardens.

Healthy food, physical fitness training, social life with friends, some relaxed gardening, fixing the house, emjoying the nature around my place (both dressed and undressed), sleep, being together with my family, reading and listening to music have made up my weeks away from my job. And the result is well being, a restoration of mind and body, and a longing for work and the usual daily rhytm.

I have all summer tried to remember a lost password, without sucesess until this morning. What happened today, was that I had accepted that I the password was gone for ever, but with that acceptance suddenly the password popped up in my memory. It was just like it had never been lost at all. Perhaps leaving all our efforts makes everything more possible, just as expressed in the last cited line for the Tao Te Ching.

My summer has been a wonderful summer, even without leaving home.

The Zen of .., the Tao of .., and mindfulness


Before the universe was born
there was something in the chaos of the heavens.
It stands alone and empty,
solitary and unchanging.
It is ever present and secure.
It may be regarded as the Mother of the universe.
Because I do not know its name,
I call it the Tao.
If forced to give it a name,
I would call it ‘Great’.

Because it is Great means it is everywhere.
Being everywhere means it is eternal.
Being eternal means everything returns to it.

Tao is great.
Heaven is great.
Earth is great.
Humanity is great.

Within the universe, these are the four great things.
Humanity follows the earth.
Earth follows Heaven.
Heaven follows the Tao.
The Tao follows only itself.

This is from Tao Te Ching, the McDonald translation.

We read about the Zen of …, the Tao of …, and it sometimes seems that the terms are used interchangeably. And also the terms Zen and Mindfulness often seems to express the same thing. That’s right, and that’s wrong. With the figure above, I have tried to sort things out a bit.

As a firm foundation we find the Tao, the way, or the principles behind everything that exists. Tao is the eternal laws, the sustaining force of the universe, of the earth, and of all life. We can not avoid it, because it is everywhere. We can try to fight it (humans do all the time, just look at what we do with the Earth), but we shall always loose in the end. What can seem like a victory, is a deception. It’s called Tao, some would say physics, others would call it God. Whatever it’s called, our existence is based on it, our daily life is controlled by it, and in that sense we are all “taoists”. And to my opinion the good life originates from harmony with the Tao.

The “Tao of ..” is unavoidable, but in daily use the term means how to live in accordance with “the Way”. That everything is interconnected, is not any longer just “eastern philosophy”, but reflected in the quantum physics. I shall not go in to the links between Tao and physics in this post.

But since “Humanity follows the earth”, we somehow should try to catch or own reality, and not live in deceptions governed by our experiences from the past, or our worries about the future. All there is, is this moment. Everything else is mental constructs with no actual or inherent reality. And to grasp our own reality, we have to be aware. If that awareness is open-minded, with no judgments, we call it mindfulness. Remember my definition of mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an unconditional awareness of whatever emerges

To reach that kind of awareness that we name “mindfulness”, we have to train our mind. Our brain is hard-wired to accept deceptions as reality, blocking the real experiences. The mind has to be trained, just as our bodies need physical training. And that training needs focusing, on the breath, on our body, on our thoughts etc. That is Zen meditation. Zen meditation require focus, not a forced focus, but an effort to stay in a focused mode, not letting the thoughts wander freely. Zen means a deliberate focusing. The “Zen of ..” means focusing on, and trying to grasp the reality behind whatever we focus on.

But there is a continuum between zen and mindfulness, and we can not experience the one without the other. There is awareness is zen, and there is focusing in mindfulness. The circles overlap to a large degree, and in practical life we usually shift between them, with the formal meditation being more of zen, and a life filled with awareness being more of mindfulness.

I don’t know if that makes any sense to anyone but myself. This reasoning helps clearing my own thoughts, and to me that is the most important.


Physical training the zen way

<a href=”http://www.zendurancecycling.com/zendurance-zen-fitness.html”>Zendurance: Zen Fitness for Body and Mind</a>

Mind Extension through Naturism

Formal meditation, – I can’t any longer think of a life without it. But mindfulness is more than the formal meditation. It is a way of life. Zennism, or being in the moment, embrace al existence. Being aware becomes a habit, – a habit thet often is fraud, but it being mindful is also awareness of the times when we are not mindful. We become aware of our thoughts wandering, and direct them back to here and now.


Zen is also being aware contexts. We can’t be aware of our mind if we are not aware of our body. And this unity can’t be understood without the interonnectedness with all nature, all living beings, the Earth and the Cosmos.  To me that means being aware of the sensations of my body when I am moving, when I am bicycling. And it means being aware of how I interact with my environment, with Tao.

There is nothing wrong with clothes. We need them for protection, and they are in most connections part of a community moral code. But to mindfully aware of our existence, clothes are a barrier against the genuin experience. Clothes are clutter, and contrary to a simple life. Naturism is an extension of mind, of meditation, of my work-outs, of my walking, running and bicycling.

Perhaps you believe there is no big difference between nudity and keeping the last, small, textiles on?

Try, and feel the difference. Feel the breeze and sun on places that is usually hidden behind clothes. Be mindful, and become aware of the freedom of being nude. Contemplate on your vulnerability, of your dependence, of your detachment from the usual moral codes. Feel how mind and body are one, and how this oneness extends into the nature around. Feel how i may feel strange, be aware of the thrilling excitement. Think of how you are judgmental  toward your own body. Enjoy your sensuality and sexuality. If you have been running, or cycling, how you are aching in some muscle, of where and how you feel tired. Spread your arms and legs and feel the air cooling on places you mostly hide.

If you do not like this, just get dressed again. No harm done. If you like it, making this a exiting and rewarding experience, be nude as often youcare for it, or get the opportunity to extend your mind through your body, your skin, and enjoy the feeling of being as natural as you possibly can be.

Some last words: There is no reason to provoke others with nudity, so I try to show respect to those who feel embarrassed. Most people do not mind unless you do not act as an exhibitionist, but to my opinion it is inappropriate to challenge the limits of others. I also believe such an behavior will reduce the mindful awareness of naturism as a mind extension, since the mind becomes distracted by all those social conventions  we try to avoid, blocking the real experience. Don’t be to shy, but behave properly.


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