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It’s easy to regard time as a commodity—we even speak of “saving” or “spending” it. We often regard it as an enemy, when we feel it slipping away before we’re ready for time to be up. The Zen view of time is radically different than that: time is not something separate from our life; rather, our life is time. Understand this, says Dainin Katagiri Roshi, and you can live fully and freely right where you are in each moment. 

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The word “zen” is a Japanese way of pronouncing “chan”, which is the Chinese way of pronouncing the Indian Sanskrit “dhyana” or “sunya”, meaning emptiness or void. This is the basis of zen itself – that all life and existence is based on a kind of dynamic emptiness (a view now supported by modern science, which sees phenomena at a sub-atomic level popping in and out of existence in a quantum froth).

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I have been grappling with the idea that time is like a river, flowing toward the end. For each of us it is a different trip all heading to the final destination. Life is not about the destination but about the journey.  Art~ (~_~)

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(~_~)

A cactus stood all alone in the desert, wondering why it was stuck in the middle of nowhere.

“I do nothing but stand here all day,” it sighed. “What use am I? I’m the ugliest plant in the desert. My spines are thick and prickly, my leaves are rubbery and tough, my skin is thick and bumpy. I can’t offer shade or juicy fruit to any passing traveler. I don’t see that I’m any use at all.”

All it did was stand in the sun day after day, growing taller and fatter. Its spines grew longer and its leaves tougher, and it swelled here and there until it was lumpy and lopsided all over. It truly was strange- looking.

“I wish I could do something useful,” it sighed.

By day hawks circled high overhead.

“What can I do with my life?” the cactus called. Whether they heard or not, the hawks sailed away.

At night the moon floated into the sky and cast its pale glow on the desert floor.

“What good can I do with my life?” the cactus called. The moon only stared coldly as it mounted its course.

A lizard crawled by, leaving a little trail in the sand with its tail.
“What worthy deed can I do?” the cactus called.

“You?” the lizard laughed, pausing a moment. “Worthy deed? Why, you can’t do anything! The hawks circle way overhead, tracing delicate patterns for us all to admire. The moon hangs high like a lantern at night, so we can see our ways home to our loved ones. Even I, the lowly lizard, have something to do. I decorate the sands with these beautiful brushstrokes as I pull my tail along. Buy you? You do nothing but get uglier every day.”

And so it went on, year after year. At last the cactus grew old, and it knew its time was short.

“Oh, Lord,” it cried out, “I’ve wondered so long, and I’ve tried so hard. Forgive me if I’ve failed to find something worthy to do. I fear that now it’s too late.”

But just then the cactus felt a strange stirring and unfolding, and it knew a surge of joy that erased all despair. At its very tip, like a sudden crown, a glorious flower suddenly opened in bloom.

Never had the desert known such a blossom. Its fragrance perfumed the air far and wide and brought happiness to all passing by. The butterflies paused to admire its beauty, and that night even the moon smiled when it rose to find such a treasure.

The cactus heard a voice. “You have waited long,” the Lord said. “The heart that seeks to do good reflects My glory, and will always bring something worthwhile to the world, something in which all can rejoice – even if for only a moment.”

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with patience, the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.

(~_~)

 

 the cactus (story found here)

A lord asked Takuan, a Zen teacher, to suggest how he might pass the time. He felt his days very long attending his office and sitting stiffly to receive the homage of others.

Takuan wrote eight Chinese characters and gave them to the man:

Not twice this day
Inch time foot gem.
This day will not come again.
Each minute is worth a priceless gem.

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time is free yet priceless

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He almost killed somebody, but one minute changed his life. The beautiful story comes from Sherman Rogers’ old book, FOREMEN: LEADERS OR DRIVERS? In his true-life story, Rogers illustrates the importance of effective relationships.


During his college years, Rogers spent a summer in an Idaho logging camp. When the superintendent had to leave for a few days, he put Rogers in charge.


“What if the men refuse to follow my orders?” Rogers asked. He thought of Tony, an immigrant worker who grumbled and growled all day, giving the other men a hard time.


“Fire them,” the superintendent said. Then, as if reading Rogers’ mind, he added, “I suppose you think you are going to fire Tony if you get the chance. I’d feel badly about that. I have been logging for 40 years. Tony is the most reliable worker I’ve ever had. I know he is a grouch and that he hates everybody and everything. But he comes in first and leaves last. There has not been an accident for eight years on the hill where he works.”


Rogers took over the next day. He went to Tony and spoke to him. “Tony, do you know I’m in charge here today?”
Tony grunted. “I was going to fire you the first time we tangled, but I want you to know I’m not,” he told Tony, adding what the superintendent had said.


When he finished, Tony dropped the shovelful of sand he had held and tears streamed down his face. “Why he no tell me dat eight years ago?”
That day Tony worked harder than ever before — and he smiled! He later said to Rogers, “I told my wife that you first foreman in deese country who ever say, ‘Good work, Tony,’ and it make her feel like Christmas.”


Rogers went back to school after that summer. Twelve years later he met Tony again. He was superintendent for railroad construction for one of the largest logging companies in the West. Rogers asked him how he came to California and happened to have such success. Tony replied, “If it not be for the one minute you talk to me back in Idaho, I keel somebody someday. That one minute, changed my whole life.”


Effective managers know the importance of taking a moment to point out what a worker is doing well. But what a difference a minute of affirmation can make in any relationship!
One minute. Have you got one minute to thank someone?
A minute to tell someone what you sincerely like or appreciate about him/her? A minute to elaborate on something he did well?
One minute. It can make a difference for a lifetime.

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 If you think you are to small to be effective, you have never slept with a mosquito.

make the most out of every minute of your life

(~_~)

 

Art~

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