Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Zen: The Art of Letting Go

Photo: Janet Ramsden on Flickr

Zen: The Art of Letting Go

PH Chua

I have loved and lost. I believe most people have. It is a heart-wrenching experience where you may have been expecting gentleness but life surprised you with harsh challenges instead.

But here I am, still alive, breathing and enjoying this journey called life. I would have never managed to move forward if it were not for my family and friends who supported me. But a big support came from practicing my personal take on Zen.

At present, Zen has become a common term to identify Japanese landscapes, fixtures and instrumental music. When you walk along the streets of foreign cities, you would probably see signboards like “Zen massage”, “Zen furniture”, “Zen – authentic Japanese food” among many others. It has gradually evolved into a convenient word to describe something Japanese which usually refers to something minimalistic in style.


Photo : Laurent Lebaux on Flickr
For me, however, Zen is the art of letting go. It is realizing that you have no control in everything and so you are not to be blamed for all bad things as well.

So, I let go.

And I forgave myself. Zen has taught me how much of a human I am and can be. Sometimes, we try so hard to be divine and perfect that when we cannot keep up with our standards, we find it difficult to forgive ourselves. In heartaches, most often than not, it is our self-confidence which get hurt the most. We begin questioning our beauty, our capability and our very existence. We try to rationalize why we have done something or have not done still. But we can only be truly gentle to the world around us if we start it within ourselves. To care for ourselves is to know that people are weak and strong at the same time and it is not for us to make judgments and discriminate. I guess this is what Prince Gautama had in mind when he realized The Middle Path: it is not about good or bad but being aware and true to yourself.


Photo : Moyan Brenn on Flickr
By forgiving myself, I learned how to move forward. The fact of life is that it goes on and matters of the past may be treasured but it shall never answer to your present. In fact, if you can let go of them, you may have a higher chance in enjoying what is in front of you now. During the period I lost love, I became unable in seeing the bigger picture – that I have love in my life, a lot of it, from my family and friends and from other people around me. But it was not the love I was expecting so I got stuck.

However, being stuck is not entirely a negative thing. It gave me ample time to focus on myself and what it is that I wish to achieve in life. I may not become a monk or a philosophy professor. But as a person who appreciates Zen and its teachings, I can tell you that Zen taught me the most basic of all: Love.

Love with a big heart. Love yourself, not in a narcissistic manner but in a gentle, humble way so that you are always whole even at times of heartbreak. Love yourself that you may spread it to others in a real and sincere way and not in a controlling and fearful foundation. Love so that you may move forward and not get stuck in the past. When you love, you enjoy. It is not about planning for future debts and health care plans; it is about giving a smile to the person sitting right next to you in class. And when you love, you let go of so many things.


Photo : Sébastien Bertrand on Flickr
You let go of your ego, your controlling self who wishes to have everything in perfect manner, your fearful self who thinks a lot about reputation and what other people will say, and your expectations which are not granted to be fully reciprocated.

Love, and love truly for it is the most beautiful thing.

A love spread is even more wonderful than a love shared.