Overcoming Difficulties

When my daughter was little, she insisted doing everything on her own before she was actually able to do it … dressing up, closing shoe-laces, climbing up and down the stairs. No parent’s help allowed! All kids are like that: looking out for new challenges and expanding their skills by overcoming difficulties.

Becoming adult, many of us loose that attitude, and we spend considerable effort into making our environment and things and tools of our daily life as easy to use and comfortable as possible. The sad extreme is someone who is best at operating the TV’s remote control while lying comfortably on the sofa, eating ready-made food.

A significant part of practising Zen or Zen-Arts is overcoming difficulties. Why do we sit on a pillow instead of a sofa, why do we use an ancient brush instead of computer software to write and draw. Why is Budo training so close to pain, sweat and tears? And why is Suizen (“blowing Zen”) practised with a rough seven-hole bamboo stick instead of perfectly tuned and easy to play modern Shakuhachi or silver flute?

We learn new things and grow only with overcoming difficulties, and by that we become more and more free and independent from random circumstances. The deep essence of Zen is no-ego … that suffering, nerve-wrecking needy “I” “I” “I”, which does not feel comfortable until the whole world around is modified to meet it’s requirements vanishes … and one day everything what just comes along is good.

Though, it requires a bit of a kid’s enthusiasm and focussed effort to get there, or “Zen-training”, as we adults like to call it …

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