A Lesson in Zen: Such


In college I took a course on Zen Buddhism. I really loved it because it taught me to think of things from a different perspective.

One of the lessons that struck a chord in me was a meditation on “Such.� In a nutshell, the meditation calls upon you think of things as just “such,� simply for what they are and not relative to anything else. This is difficult to do because everything we experience is given meaning or definition by its function or by its relative proximity to other things.

For instance, if I show you a picture of a chair and ask you what it is you’ll probably say “a chair.� But if I place a knife, fork, plate, and some food on it then it becomes a table. And if I stand on it to change a lightbulb, it becomes a step ladder.

Another way that we experience the relative perception of things is as “good� or “bad.� Things are perceived as good when seen in contrast to bad things and vice versa. Here’s an example. Let’s say you are running late for the airport and you miss your plane. That’s bad right? Good = getting on the plane and not losing time and money. What if you later find out that the plane you were supposed to be on crashed? Now how do you feel about missing the plane? That’s good right?

The lesson I wish to leave you with today is to not fear or run from “the bad,� the uncomfortable, the frightening, the dirty, the smelly, from hunger, sadness, pain and so on. By experiencing these things this is how we come to know the good, the comfortable, the beautiful, the delicious, peace, luxury, love, happiness, and more.

For today, try to see “the bad� as just “such.� And know that by encountering “the bad� in life, you will come to know and, more importantly, appreciate “the good� in life. Also, ask yourself how you can reframe your “bad� experiences so that you perceive them, instead, as good. Ask yourself, what did I learn from this? What should I learn from this? Where is the good in this? Sometimes when bad things happen in our life, it is a gift that shines a light on what is really important and good in our life. Really feel and experience the good in your life today.

Life is challenging. Life is beautiful. Life is such.

Peace to you.

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