The Good of Not Being Satisfied – Zen #2

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The Yogi and the Passerby

The Yogi asks the passerby, “What does it mean for you to be well & whole?”
The passerby answers, “It means I am content with my body, mind and spirit.”
The Yogi asks the passerby, “Are you content?”
The passerby answers, “No, I am not.”
The Yogi responds, “That is good.”
The passerby asks, “Why do you say good? Aren’t I supposed to be content?”
The Yogi answers, “No, you are supposed to do the dishes.”
The passerby responds, “What dishes?”
The Yogi answers, “Wise question.”

Study Questions:

  • What gender is the Yogi?
  • What age is the Yogi?
  • What gender is the passerby?
  • What age is the passerby?
  • What Dishes?

Drawing and dialog © 2017 Marty Coleman |

“They who are not satisfied with themselves will grow.” – Hebrew Proverb

How To Be A River – Zen #1

What river are you part of?

How do you know?

Do you love the other drops of water?

Is there a river if there is no flow?

Do you know where the river is headed?

Do you get to decide the part you will play?

Do you love the river you are in?

Drawing © Marty Coleman |

Quote is a Zen Proverb

Zen #5 – The Infinite

It’s Day Infinity of Zen Week.  Not unexpectedly, this week’s series has resulted in many more visitors from Japan than usual. I am hopeful you are all safe and have the support and strength to rebuild your homeland.

Normal cat is insistently meowing to get in the house. I hear her through the open window.  Light, fresh air is blowing through it as well.

She was insistent about wanting to go out earlier.  She went out when I went to check on the neighbors yard. I heard something I wouldn’t usually hear and Wiggle dog was barking at the fence in that direction.  All was ok.  It was my neighbor, who is usually not home this time of day.

While I was out front I took the opportunity to pull up some long dead plants.  I hit the roots against the warm brick wall so the rich soil would fall back in the garden. Then I threw them over the rusty barbed wire fence into the open field. I notice how well the chives came up again.  I pulled one plant that had new growth I hadn’t seen and replanted it.

I didn’t bother to check the mail, the mailwoman doesn’t usually come this early.

When I came back inside I started water to boil some beans.  They need to stand for an hour now.

Drawing and story by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is a Zen saying

One year ago today at the NDD – People don’t grow up, they just grow.  Actually I thought yesterday was 3/11 so I posted the year ago napkin from that date. So, today I am making amends by posting 3/10/10. It’s a really good one, one of my all time faves.

Zen #4 – Enlightenment

I hope you are enlightened on day 4 of Zen Week at The Napkin Dad Daily. A shout out to all my Napkin Kin who have recently bought coffee mugs, thank you!

Enlightenment always wants to be grand.  We like to make the grand proclamation that we have been enlightened about something. Maybe after we have done something bad, been caught, and had to publicly apologize. Maybe after having an amazing life transformation that makes us aware of new things. Maybe travel to a new country that opens our eyes to ways we didn’t know existed.

We like to make a spectacle of enlightenment.

But enlightenment is sustained when it is small, not large. When it finds the mundane being just as capable of expanded awareness as the heroic, then it has food to live on. We can’t feed our enlightenment every day with only our heroic deeds and thoughts any more than we are likely to feed our bodies on only gourmet restaurant fare.  We feed ourselves in our daily life with more everyday fare and if you want enlightenment to stay with you, you have to find it there too.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is a Zen proverb

One year ago today at The NDD – Homelessness in Palm Springs
zen buddhism religion enlightenment mundane everyday hero heroic spectacle 2011

Zen #3 – Lent, Emptiness and The Clay Pot

It’s the Ash Wednesday edition of Zen Week at the Napkin Dad Daily

First a limerick I made up:

You know what would be
Really bent?
If I gave up cookies,
Just for Lent.
Zen #3 mug
Zen #3 an empty coffee cup by NapkinDad
See other Zen Mugs
It’s what Ash Wednesday and Lent is all about.  It’s about sacrifice, taking something out of your life, not just to feel better or lose weight, but to experience the feeling of sacrifice, of emptiness of what you value and need.

It’s one of the reasons people don’t change easily. Change almost always includes taking something away, emptying something from your life.  A relationship, food, drink, behaviors that aren’t replaced. Just an emptiness where something used to be.  A big gaping void.  Not easy to face, not easy to live with.

But every emptiness has a shape that contains it.  It might be your stomach, your hands, your living room.  You created that shape, that clay pot.  It wasn’t always filled with what is now missing.

When you purposely empty something from your life, whatever it is, don’t forget the clay pot is still there and it can be filled with something new.  Indeed, the great joy of Lent isn’t just that you learn about sacrifice, it’s that you have a new opportunity to fill that emptiness with something better.

So the Lent question today is, What are you ADDING into your life along with the sacrifice? What new thing can you fill your vessel with?

And yes, I really am giving up cookies for Lent.  I will report back on my success, and more importantly, what I filled my cookie emptiness with. Stay tuned!

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily – Making your brain bigger and your day better.

Quote by Lao Tzu, 6th century BCE, Chinese – Traditionally known as the founder of Taoism

Zen #2 – Drops of Water

In case you want to be one with it, it’s day two of Zen Week at the NDD.

Good question.  What’s your answer?

Drawing and question by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is a Zen Saying

Zen #1 – There is no Path

I am not a Zen master.  Me saying that proves, of course, that I am one.

Zen mug
Zen by NapkinDad
See other Zen Mugs
This isn’t about Zen Buddhism, about which I know virtually nothing. It’s about perception and the precision of language.

Substitute any of a number of words for ‘Zen’ in the quote above.  Then what? Let’s use ‘self’ for an example. Are you trying to find yourself?  Are you trying to find your ‘self’, in other words?

Where is that ‘self’?
  • Does it reside in your career, if only you could get a promotion?
  • Does it reside in your hobbies, if only you could be finish a project?
  • Does it reside in your friendships, if only you could be worthy of them?
  • Does it reside in your makeup bag, if only you would not age?
  • Does it reside in your kids, if only they would not age?
  • Does it reside in your golf clubs, in only you could reach par?
  • Does it reside in your religion, if only you could be good enough?
  • Does it reside in the future, if only you can find it?
  • Does it reside in the past, if only you can recapture it?
Or does your ‘self’ reside right here, right now?  If it isn’t here right now, how are you reading this?  Is it someone else occupying your body doing the reading?  No, it’s you, it’s your ‘self’ doing it.

So, back to the ‘precision of language’ I mentioned.  What you pursue is not your ‘self’. Your pursuits are those things I listed and more. You may want those things better understood, better defined, better lived. And that is good, pursue them all with great passion.

But call them by their name and don’t be sloppy with your name calling. Their name isn’t ‘self’. You are named ‘self’ and you are here right now. Indeed that is the only place your ‘self’ will ever be.

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote by Robert Allen, author of ‘Zen Questions’

>Where There Is Great Doubt

>When my wife and I were dating we went to Pacifica, California for a day trip while we were on vacation. She had lived there for a while before we met and she wanted to see it again and show me the place. We went to the beach, which had a cliff off to the side. I wanted to climb up it but she was hesitant. She wasn’t very much into that sort of thing at the time. She decided she would do it and off we went. We made it up and down no problem, viewed the Pacific ocean and just drank in the beauty of it all.

I didn’t think much about it after that. But later, when it was mentioned to our daughter, my wife was very excited about having climbed the cliff. To her, the idea of being able to climb it was a BIG doubt. And being able to do it was, in turn, a BIG awakening. It stayed with her specifically because the doubt was so great beforehand. She now does all sorts of physical things she had no notion she could do before.

Have you ever heard an athlete or person involved in some endeavor tell of that one particular event that caused them to realize they could do it? They made a big play, or they made a big deal in business? That future confidence was a result of that awakening from doubt.

What is your big doubt? What big awakening can you envision if you overcame it?

Drawing and commentary by Marty Coleman of The Napkin Dad Daily

Quote is a Zen Buddhist saying

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