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chance encounter

I think it’s in the little things of everyday living that truth reveals itself. Nothing fancy, no lights flashing, just tiny moments that tell me that I’m on the right path. A couple of days ago, onboard a ferry taking me home after three weeks abroad, I sat outdoors atop a steel locker containing life vests. I’d taken refuge there from the hordes of tourists inside, enjoying the relative quiet with gulls diving into the wind, islands floating past, and a faint scent from the nearby smoking section reminding me of the Europe I’d left 24 hours ago.

I’d just put down my reading to watch people taking turns photographing each other, when — less than a foot above my head — the loudspeaker blared, Attention crew: cleaner to the chief steward’s office. The announcer’s voice boomed into my ears and could probably be heard a mile away. I raised my hands to cover my ears … and just sat there. A couple standing at the ship’s railing, startled by the harshness of the sound, turned to exchange glances. Spotting my book*, one of them said, “Wow, that was loud; especially with you reading Zen training“. To which I replied, with a grin, “It’s just as it is. Noise and silence.” Laughs all-round and a wave as the couple moved on.

My reply may sound hokey in retrospect, but at the time it revealed a felt sense of equanimity — a state where one experiences phenomena as they occur, without resistance, preference, or judgement.

*Katsuki Sekida. (2007). Zen-Training (German translation). Freiburg: Herder Verlag.

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One response »

  1. Simple and amazing at the same time. Nice post! Reminds me of the poet Ryokan and his most famous haiku written after a thief had broken into his hut and stolen his few simple possessions:

    The thief left it behind:
    the moon
    at my window.

    Reply

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