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The 12 June 2020 syndicated comic strip “Frazz” relates a conversation between two main characters: Frazz, a 30-year-old songwriter and elementary school janitor; and Caulfield, his 8-year-old friend whose advanced intelligence often challenges those around him.

In this particular strip, Frazz pushes an old-fashioned hand lawn mower through an overgrown lawn. Caulfield follows him on the freshly mown grass. Here is their short conversation –

Caulfield: Is cutting the grass fun?

Frazz: Fun? Hm. It’s more a Zen thing.

Caulfield: Because it’s peaceful?

Frazz: Because it’s temporary.

This simple interchange highlights two different perspectives of Zen. Caulfield’s “peaceful” Zen reflects a very popular view in which people might say, “I’m so Zenned out,” that is, nothing bothers them.

Frazz, however, replies that the Zen of mowing grass is not because it is a peaceful activity; rather, its temporary nature is what makes it “a Zen thing.” Mow today, but in another week the grass has grown and needs re-mowing. Once tall, then short, now tall again. The grass is constantly changing.

From Frazz’ Zen perspective, knowing that the grass will once again require mowing represents the transience of Life itself as it, and conditions around it, change, ever interdependent on other factors. Even if mowing the grass may indeed be meditative, Frazz is not “Zenned” out. He just cuts the grass, because he is actively engaged in life – his own and that of the grass.

Training in Zen may bring you a sense of peace not because you can “Zen” out, but because you come to a clearer understanding, and subsequent acceptance, of your True Nature, which is transient, changing, and interdependent. Like all things in the universe.

Getting to this stage of acceptance, though, is not easy, especially since the understanding we are talking about is not just intellectual; it is fundamentally experiential. The journey to reach this point requires much of the student.

In Zen, we say that one must have Great Doubt, Great Faith, and Great Determination. Doubt raises questions you have about existence and reality; faith convinces you that there is an answer to these questions; determination propels you to find the answer even when the journey is demanding and may be confusing.

The path of Zen requires action and stillness. One without the other yields no worthwhile results.


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