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Posts Tagged ‘simplicity’

Hotei happens to be one of my favorite buddha figures, and I know I’m in good company in that regard. He’s the Laughing Buddha, that big-bellied guy with an almost-as-big linen sack, whose belly you rub for luck. (The statues of him, I mean of course.)

Back when he was alive, he wasn’t the sort of zen master who gathered a school of disciples. What Hotei gathered was a playground of children. In his sack was candy and treats that he’d give to children, who loved to play with and around him. Yeah, he was that fantastic.

As I’ve heard it, sometimes someone would come up to him and tell him he belongs in some zen temple or another. He’d respond by telling them to give him a penny. At times he’d come across a devotee of zen, and he’d tell them to give him a penny as well.

Another story is that some zen monk asked him what the whole meaning was to zen. Hotei set down his heavy bag with a contented sigh. The inquiring monk then asked how zen is realized.

Hotei slung his bag back over his shoulder, and merrily went back to handing out treats to children.

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Yesterday I was out of the office, and today was greeted by the Monday quote on my calendar… I’ve used it as a guide today.

1. Out of clutter, find simplicity.
2. From discord, find harmony.
3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.

Albert Einstein, Three Rules of Work

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I know I’m going to get her quote slightly paraphrased, because she said it a couple different ways, but experiential philosopher Marsha McNish has framed my thoughts for the day. We were talking through something and I came to a realization: just because I’m missing something, it doesn’t mean I’m missing out. The way she put it was: “Some experiences are highly overrated, and don’t need to be lived out to be appreciated.”

It also brought up my thing about having to do everything for myself, self-reliant, over-extended, etc. She pointed out that maturity and experience and resources makes it easier and preferable to actually let other people handle things. It’s just not so important to do everything for yourself, just like it’s not important to always be right.

I mean think about it, how many times we’d be miserable if we stuck to “being right” about so many things in our lives. She had one more great quote that prompted me to run over and write this: “I am ecstatic being wrong, just so long as life works out.”

I love that. I’m going to use that for my background thoughts today.

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I had a lovely day off yesterday, wrapping up a mini-vacation. In it, we got the chance to also take a look at how we can further consolidate and organize things, to simplify. Streamline. Clear up some clutter so we can better work with what we’ve got, make some room for some more. And of course, me being me, I’m thinking about all this metaphorically, too.

A French writer named Andre Gide has a great quote:

“I’m erecting a barrier of simplicity between myself and the world.”

I think that’s a great idea. For everything that comes to us or that we put out, first sending it through a filter of simplicity. Stripping away the garbage to focus on the essentials. Seems to me like it’ll make a clearer life.

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