Zen is the art of living within the moment with compassion and awareness. Zen is a Christian or Muslim offering a prayer to God. Zen is shaving in the morning. What makes Zen difficult is the compassion and awareness elements. With so many problems and worries on our minds we just can’t focus very well on the now. It is helpful to realize we inevitably will die. When we keep this idea on the front of the mind, the often petty concerns that distract us fade into the background.
Zen requires mental discipline; the antithesis of consumerism. Consumerism wants us to be impulsive and unaware. It helps us spend more when we seek after every mote that crosses our path. This is not Zen. Impulsiveness is the hallmark of a mind that is undisciplined and suffering. Flitting to and fro, pulled by the latest gossip and advertising, we cannot be happy and peaceful. Really, it is not in the interests of capitalism if people were happy and peaceful. They would lack a reason to continually buy!
Zen is realizing this magazine ad makes we desire a product I don’t need to survive or be happy. Zen is contentment with what we have now. It is living in the moment. Now, this isn’t to say we live for the moment. Living for the moment is impulsive. Rather we live within this moment in time without dwelling upon the past and fretting over the future. The future never arrives anyway.
We are fortunate. We breath. Breathe is a sanctuary of Zen we carry with us everywhere. Whenever we find ourselves worrying, stressed, or acting impulsively we can always stop and focus on the movement of life within us.
“Breathing in, I realize I am in the now”
“Breathing out, I smile at this wonderful moment.”
“Breath in, present moment. Breath out, wonderful moment.”
There is all there is to Zen. Just be alive and aware of being alive. When you eat, eat. Don’t stare at the television. When you shave, shave. Don’t fret about the day ahead. When you laugh, laugh with all your being. When you breathe, breathe. Zen is genuinely wishing well for everyone you meet, no matter how difficult they are at the moment. When you see someone, see someone. Don’t pass judgment upon them. We are united in our common suffering.
Zen is the simplest of philosophies but the hardest to practice. It demands a constant awareness of what is going on within the mind and within the moment. It demands a disciplined mind that is not blown about by consumerism and impulsiveness. Zen demands we be compassionate toward our fellow sentient beings whether they be friend or foe.