Leaving No Trace
April 11, 2012 § 1 Comment
Usually when we do something that we see as significant, we attach a sense of accomplishment or pride to what we have done. So we close a financially advantageous deal, or we complete a marathon, and we think of this as a great accomplishment. But in thinking this way, we freight our actions with the traces of these thoughts and feelings.
You may say, how would it be possible not to feel a sense of accomplishment in such moments, and isn’t feeling this positive way about yourself a good thing? The difficulty here is that once you start to attach these feelings and judgments to your actions, you complicate matters. Sure, when you feel a sense of accomplishment in finishing the marathon, you feel good about yourself- I did an amazing thing, good for me. But what if you had brought all your will and effort to bear and still you had been unable to finish, or what if things more urgent arose and you were unable to participate at all? What then would you think of your non-accomplishment, your “failure” to complete the marathon?
Leaving no trace means keeping it simple. When you are done with an action, you are done. In Zen, burning yourself completely in a given action, whether it is meditation or closing a deal, means not just being in the present moment continuously, controlling yourself, seeking to be the force of nature that is a centered human. You must also burn yourself to ashes, leaving no trace of yourself. When you are truly centered in action, you have no need to attach some thought or judgment to your action, or to your performance. You will feel the centeredness and that will be enough, that will be all there is.