Tag Archives: Zen

I learned how to pray through the art of being zen

“I have a 2000 word paper about eudaimonism, hedonism, and the universal measurement of well-being due tomorrow. But I’ll spend no more than one hour on this post to crystalise my experience from volunteering. Clear”

I think it is important to give a bit of background before I begin.

I was volunteering at an organisation that aims to help people find their true selves. And in many ways, I was sold before I even attended their first class. Thing about this organisation is, it aims to help people rediscover their deepest desire without the fears that come along. It aims to help people overcome trauma they never knew they had and to lead victorious life as a new creation when the hole that they have subconsciously dug was filled up. As Christian as they sound, they aren’t. They claimed to be non-religious, but spiritual. They embraces the teachings of Zen and Shamanism, with some occasional quotes from the Bible and the Kōan to bring their point across. They value transcendence, enlightenment, and awakening.

And because I know that they are closer to The Truth than other places, I do not mind going all out to learn.

Okay, that’s some background. I shall begin.

Clearing what is in your mind is one thing I have learned through the few days in which I have volunteered in this place. In order to be mentally, physically, and spiritually present for the act of service, one will need to put down what has been bothering you in your life before entering the space. This act was intended to minimise any form of distraction you might face during your duration of service. And that was what I did as I started off this post, as an example. By stating what is bothering me at this very point in time that might potentially cause me to be distracted in my work and hence, not being able to do it impeccably.

Though, I was skeptical about how it worked, I guess it did. I was surprisingly not affected by the work that was piling up and waiting for my attention. I was focused and ready for the task that was assigned to me. It’s amazing how an act of stating things out can make such a profound impact on one’s life. This reminds me of the importance of the confession of faith, whether is it Christianity or not.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” — Matthew 7:7, NIV.
“Did they not say, ‘Those who seek shall have it and those who sin shall be freed?’” — Tao De Jing, Chapter 62, Chan Translation.

I was made known another important lesson through my time of service at the organisation. That was the importance of “setting my intention”. It was funny human beings can add or take away energy from any given spaces in the world. In our day-to-day lives, when someone is down at a workplace, the entire mood / atmosphere becomes down. One person’s mood got the ability to affect the collective. Likewise, when the aim is to help people overcome trauma and to become truer versions of themselves, the collective energy felt diminishes greatly. Hence, when I was doing my work, my team leader during volunteering came to me and my fellow volunteers to tell us to “guard the energy of the space”.

“We do so by setting our intention,” he added. “We can do so by cleaning the space and do some intentional writing”.

I thought to myself, how can pure thoughts change an atmosphere and “guard the energy of the space”? I figure, I won’t question him, but I’ll jump into it and experience for myself. During the service, I was taught how to write in a neat and zen manner… Which I failed miserably. My fellow volunteers was complaining about how writing repeatedly can reflect our current state of mind. “One look at it and you know my heart is not zen,” he said. I laughed. “Same here,” I said.

There were four of us volunteering. Each of us were asked to sit at a chair right outside the door where participants were reliving their trauma for a certain period of time. We rotate our turns so that each of us have a certain amount of time there to guard the space while the rest of us did our writings in the other room. “What a great time to do some memorising work,” I thought.

I chose to write Isaiah 40:31. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” I did so for a while till it was time for me to head out to be seated alone at the door of the other room. Immediately when I sat down, I felt the surge of energy coming over me. The pressure was so great that I was not able to concentrate. I was literally struggling with simple spelling and the like. I was not able to focus nor write in a straight line as before. I was struggling to even fulfil something as simple as repetitive work. I realised, my work slowed down.

The experience struck me deeply. I thought, how can the simple act of “setting intentions” have such a great impact on any given space? And how can the act of not having the right intentions for the space affect the flow of energy in a way that may be detrimental to the bigger picture?

Then it dawned on me that this has always been what I have been doing when I pray.

You see, believing in God meant that believing in all the promises that He’s given you, our identity in Him, and the ability that we possess to do great things through Him. This includes the fact that we are able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20), speak in new tongues, pick up snakes and not be injured, drink poison and not die, and heal the sick (Matthew 16:17-18). But it’s important to note that these abilities do not come from yourself. Rather, it comes from the force that transcends the self. It comes from God.

The Tao De Jing wrote, “The Way of Heaven diminishes the more-than-enough to supply the less-than-enough.” (Chapter 77: Wu Translation). On the surface, it sounded as if it is on a literal sense; something like taking from those who are richer to provide for those who are poorer. But as we dig into it, we realise that it isn’t the case. Lao Tzi continued, “The way of man is different.” Hence, we conclude that this “Way of Heaven” can also be the “Way of Tao” who diminishes the more-than-enough from Heaven or Tao Himself to supply the limited resources that humanity has. That’s why Lao Tzi wrote, “Who except a man of the Tao can put his superabundant riches to the service of the world?”

As followers of the Tao (or God), we embraces this fact. We are One with God and the world (Tao De Jing Chapter 4, John Chapter 17). And because we are One with God, the “Tao is to the world what a great river or an ocean is to the streams and brooks” (Tao De Jing Chapter 32, Wu Translation). This “Spirit of the valley” is called “Root of Heaven and Earth”, and “when you draw upon it, it is inexhaustible” (Tao De Jing Chapter 6, Wu Translation). This great river, this great valley, is the water the Son of Heaven is giving us. He says:

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” — John 4: 13-14, NIV.

I set my intention to pursue the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My intentions are clear. And I stick to it. It shapes who I am. It is who I am. I am One with the Giver of Life. I am One with Tao. I am One with God.

And because of this, I am confident to say that, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13, NIV).

The time now is 10:06 am. Complete.

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