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Ryokan, a Zen master, lived the simplest kind of life in a little hut at the foot of a mountain. One evening a thief visited the hut only to discover there was nothing in it to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you shoud not return emptyhanded. Please take my clothes as a gift.”

The thief was bewildered. He took the clothes and slunk away.

Ryokan sat naked, watching the moon. “Poor fellow, ” he mused, “I wish I could give him this beautiful moon.

Where in your life are you attached to material things?  These things lead us to false securities and happiness.  We go through life gathering, acquiring and competing to match our friends, our family, our neighbors.  Most of us do not realize that we CANNOT take these things with us until it is too late.  Often this is on our death bed as we are wrapped in our jewelry and family members jockeying for position of our material items that we finally get we cannot take any of these things with us.

Living a simple life without attachments does not mean you need to live in a hut on a mountainside.  This means that you do not attach any meaning to any of these things, that at any moment you could give these away as they are meaningless to you.  When Jesus was asked, “Can I have your coat?”  He said, “please take my coat too.”

Just like Ryokan in the story The Moon Cannot Be Stolen.  Ryokan was willing to give up his stuff yet it let him sad as he knew this thief would never know what the experience of life would be like when you have no attachments and you are completely present.  In this state you see beauty and wonder in everything.  You are connected to life and life does not rule you.

We come into this life naked and full of wonder.  It is our duty to find this space for the rest of our lives…NOT just at the moment of our passing.

Call to Action:

  • Where are you attached to material things in your life?  Make a list if you have to and get present to how this controls you.
  • What things in your life do you HAVE to HAVE?  What can you NOT do without in your life?  Get present to how this controls your life.
  • What are you NOT willing to give up in life?  Again get present to how your life is controlled be these things.

Thomas D. Craig

 Author of A Cup of Buddha

Writer. Seeker. Adventurer. Warrior