Posts Tagged ‘zen’

The Zen of Everything

September 17, 2009


Every morning, without fail, this elderly Asian man can be found hunkered down in front of the Hon-Michi Los Angeles Shutchosho, meticulously pulling weeds. I pass by him twice a day, going and coming, on my three-mile walk down Wilshire Blvd.

Evidently the gardener or caretaker of this lovely property — one of the few non-eyesores in our not so lovely neck of the woods — I never fail to marvel at the intense focus with which he undertakes his daily chore.

On this morning’s walk, as I watched him, the memory of a day job I’d held years ago in N.Y. came back to me. It was a job that required an inordinate amount of xerox copying. Back then, I was reading a lot about Buddhism, Meditation in Action by Chogyam Trungpa, being one of my favorite books.

In the clinic where I worked, I was responsible for the newsletter, which I had conceived, written, copied, assembled and distributed to the patients and staff each month.

During the initial photocopying process, I’d developed a seamless, input-output, flow of paper-relationship with the copy machine — a robot-to-human connection based upon repetitiveness — which would put me into a kind of meditative state.

As the machine spit out the copies, I’d invoked Trungpa and instruct myself to become “one” with the process. At first, I just did it to make the chore go faster. And it did.

But the byproduct of this synergy with the Xerox machine was the feeling of peace that would envelope me. The kind of peace that’s only achieved through quieting the mind.

I know this may sound a little crazy, my going on and on about photocopying.

But, the truth is, if you fully enter into whatever it is you happened to be doing at the moment and become “present” with that activity — even if it’s a non-activity, like waiting on line at the Post Office — there’s a certain level of fulfillment to be procured from even the most stereotypically mind-numbing chore — if you can resist the urge over-think.

And don’t I know it. Over-thinking should be my middle name.

At any rate, I believe this is what Trungpa meant by “meditation in action.” It’s not always necessary to fold your legs, stiffen you back, and lock yourself away in a quiet room to find peace.

What’s most important is to¬†pay attention to life. Just like this gardener.


One fails to see life as it is because one tends so much to build up one’s own version of it.” – Chogyam Trungpa