Peace

These days, peace has a general definition based on a negative. Take anyone at random and ask what peace is, and they will tell you that it is the absence of war, the opposite of strife.

Peace is thus seen as something beyond us, something that has to do with the “grand scheme of things” rather than our everyday life.

This understanding influences greatly how we think, how we speak and how we act.

I find that increasingly, people become annoyed and too often resort to agressiveness as their first reaction when faced with something they dislike —be it being stuck in traffic, waiting in line, not getting an immediate answer to a message, or anything that goes against what they had expected.

The reaction can go from cursing internally (I personally see that as self-inflicted harm) and blaming others, to straight out shouting.

A mix in various degrees of (1) impatience; (2) an exaggerated sense of self, in other words a lack of humility; and (3) the idea that living means imposing oneself on the world, are some of the causes that lead to such reactions.

Where am I heading with this you may ask?

I am heading towards peace. Yes, peace, salam, shalom, paz, мир(mir)—say it in whatever language you chose.

Peace is the ability to react in a gentle way to any situation, be it annoying or not.

Peace is not the ability to control or eliminate anything, be it anger or impatience or war.

Peace is not a state of mind.

Peace itself is an act.

Peace is positive and purposeful.

Peace is humility. It is patience and it is kindness.

Peace is filled with the potential for love and is itself a product of love.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” John 14:27.

Kenza.

Caveat: in some parts of the world I had the privilege to visit or to live, agressiveness, even in its mildest form, was very rare and politeness, and hence respect, generally prevailed. 

Inspiration: peace, and the persistent inability to understand much of the world. 

Dawn and dusk

I am one of those who, everyday, watches the sun rise and set.

It is for me a way to remain aware that we are part of nature, of a cycle of day and night, and of a movement vaster and faster than we can ever imagine.

Watching the sun rising and setting does not require a view upon the sea or even a large window, a small patch of sky suffices.

Days are filled with activities and noise, so I like the simplicity of seeing the slow lightning up of the sky announcing the start of a new day in total silence. And I like taking a few minutes from the hustle and bustle of a late afternoon to witness the sun setting, even if it is a simple reflection on a glass pane.

Every dawn and every dusk are distinct in sights, with different colors and sometimes birds flying across the sky; and in sounds, with silence or the echos of thunder. Each rising and setting of the sun has its own atmosphere, and I am grateful for being a witness to it all.

These are simple pleasures really, reminding us that beyond the fracas of the world, there is serenity and there is beauty.

Kenza.

Inspiration: changing skies. 

Zen story – Su Dongpo and Master Fo-yin

My son turns 10 years old today, and I told him the following story that made him laugh and think. I hope you do to.

Feeling particularly inspired that morning, Su Dongpo wrote the following brief poem and sent it to his teacher, Zen Master Fo-yin, who lived just across the Yangtze river.

“I bow to the god among gods;
his hair-light illuminates the world.
Unmoved when the eight winds blow,
upright I sit in a purple-gold lotus.”

After receiving the poem, Master Fo-yin replied with two words:

“Fart! Fart!”

When Su Dongpo received the Master’s reply, he became furious and without further ado, jumped on a boat, crossed the Yangtze river and barged into Master Fo-yin’s house saying:

“How could you possibly send someone a note with these two words? This is slanderous!”

“Slanderous?” replied Master Fo-yin. “Who was I slandering? You said you were unmoved by the eight winds when they blew. But look at you now! Just two farts blew you across the Yangtze river!”

Recognizing his error and realizing he boasted about a spiritual progress he had not yet achieved, Su Dongpo apologized to the Master for his outburst and promised to strive to always act with full humility.

Notes:
– The eight winds are praise, ridicule, misery, happiness, honor, disgrace, gain and loss — all external elements affecting our internal quietude if taken at heart and without wisdom.
– Su Tung-p’o or Su Dongpo (1037-1101) was a poet during the Song Dynasty. He is better known as Su Shi (his art name).
– Master Fo-yin (1011-1086) was a Great Master of the Zen tradition. He was known for his strict discipline and wonderful sense of humor, as is the case with many Zen masters and others who have reached such serenity, that joy springs naturally and in its many forms.
– Here, I have most humbly put into my own words a story I once read written by Zen Master Hsuan Hua.

Look

Look,
at the stars appearing as the night starts
at the child smiling
at the cloud shape-shifting
at the bird taking flight
at the chocolate melting on the tongue
at the ink making words come to life
at the ant pulling a leaf
at the steam rising from a cup of tea
at the sky stretching beyond the horizon
at the bread rising as it bakes
at the rain drop polishing the sidewalk
at the flower hanging from the vase
at the onion slice wilting in the pan
at the universe dancing beyond your imagination.

Look,
look around you.

Look,
and you will become all of it.

Kenza.

 

Inspiration: every day.