Monday Zen: The Thief & The Moon

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 to steal.

Ryokan returned and caught him. “You may have come a long way to visit me,” he told the prowler, “and you should not return empty-handed. 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.”

I always work in public places. Often, I have to leave my stuff unattended. To go to the toilet. To get lunch. A laptop is an expensive tool, but I’m not worried.

All the data is in the cloud. I can log in and start from anywhere. But I also keep having this thought that, if someone stole something from me, they really need it more than I do. Maybe, they should have it. I can get a new one, after all. I’ll be okay.

It’s been nine years and, so far, no takers. But it’s the attitude that counts.

Consider this: About 99% of your everyday items can be replaced within 20 minutes for less than $20. A t-shirt. A phone charger. A pair of sunglasses. So why the obsession?

In the same vein, it takes very little to be generous. You can pay for your friend’s ice cream. Hand them a book you’ve read. Let someone collect your refundable bottles.

Love can fend off any attack. But it’s so much more than just a defense.


About Monday Zen: Most people hate Monday. Why? In a good life, it’s a day like any other. At the very least, it shouldn’t be worse by default. That’s what Monday Zen is for: To make sure you start the week with calm, poise, and determination.

Let’s not derail our trains of thought before they leave the station. Let’s enjoy the journey.

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