Is Zen a goal, a gratitude or an attitude?

Z2020Since my underlying theme for the A to Z this year has been gratitude and aspects of it, Zen seems to be the ultimate objective: where we reach a state of calmness and gratefulness that accepts our life as it is.

It’s particularly pertinent in April 2020 as we come to terms with a different life in social isolation from how we normally fill our days. #Iso-Zen might be our goal. For myself I haven’t found my life to be vastly different from usual other than what might be over-dramatically expressed as a reduction in freedom, to just go out, meet friends, have a coffee, go for dinner or for a drive in the country.

Image from Pixabay by Dweedon1

The A to Z challenge this year has been a great way to use my time productively and has provided a focus for the days. My main outings have been to see my mother in her care home and occasional outings for exercise. Fortunately, Australia’s leaders have worked largely collaboratively and put safety precautions in place quickly, so that most of us do not sit in fear each day. That truly is a cause for gratitude.

Zen teaches that once we can open up to the inevitability of our demise, we can begin to transform that situation and lighten up about it. Allen Klein, American author

Zen and Ancestors

There’s no particular way to identify whether my ancestors had reached a zen-like attitude to their lives. Perhaps there’s just the hope that at the end of their lives they were content with what they’d achieved, felt happiness from the ever-expanding family descendants, and were grateful for the joys of their lives. I can only hope they had no great regrets about leaving their homeland or how their lives had turned out. Many had maintained their religious faith which had sustained them over the years.  They’d been determined in achieving their goals and were settled in their locations and had contributed to the growth of our country and their neighbourhoods. I suppose we can call that reaching a state of Zen or contentment.

How do you regard Zen and discover it in your ancestors’ lives?

Well, I believe life is a Zen koan, that is, an unsolvable riddle. But the contemplation of that riddle – even though it cannot be solved – is, in itself, transformative. And if the contemplation is of high enough quality, you can merge with the divine. Tom Robbins, American author.

A zen garden at San Francisco’s Japanese Gardens. © P Cass 2017

Quotes from

22 thoughts on “Is Zen a goal, a gratitude or an attitude?

  1. I like the idea of IsoZen 🙂

    I think our ancestors were probably more accepting of their circumstances, but then as I wrote that, I thought that well many of them emigrated which suggests a lack of acceptance … However, I do have the memoir of my 3rd great grandfather and he said he had no regrets.

    I work on the idea that once I have made a decision I don’t dwell on the might have beens- I think buyer’s remorse sad and a waste of time for example.

    Congratulations for finishing the month’s project and for a series of thought provoking posts. I have enjoyed reading them.


  2. So thrilled that #Iso-Zen brought you back to geneablogging so that we could enjoy your ponderings and learn more about your ancestors.

    Congratulations on an excellent series of posts – a worthwhile legacy of Covid-19.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is something to think about – if my ancestors were content. I think some of them were. But aside from my uncle Winslow who said he had no regrets, I have no proof that they were. Those that had a deep belief in the hereafter, I think they were.

    You are so lucky to have leaders who know what they are doing and do it. The opposite of here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s so much to wonder about with our ancestors and will never be able to “prove”. I agree that faith seems to have made a big difference to their acceptance.

      Australia has been very fortunate indeed. We’re lucky we’re so far away although being big travellers could have worked against us. Being rude about our politicians at all levels is a national sport but most of us would agree they’ve done a great job with this crisis, AND they’ve worked together collaboratively whatever party they belong to. I feel for you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a thought provoking post Pauleen. And great for Z. I do often wonder if our ancestors regretted leaving their homes to come to a country so different to their own. I hope at the end of their lives they felt satisfied with their decision. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more satisfied with my own life and less concerned about the mistakes along the way.


  5. I don’t think too many of my ancestors reached a zen-like state. In fact I can’t think of one except my mother who spent her last few years relatively happy. Despite moving to a new land of promise they all led difficult lives. Maybe some were resigned to their lot. Who knows? Congratulations on reaching the end of another A to Z. Feels like we’ve all run a marathon, doesn’t it?


  6. Congratulations on completing the A to Z challenge !I found this month of intense blogging contributed to a sense of Zen, as the daily writing distracted me from our new, sequestered reality and kept me from watching more news than was healthy during this pandemic. I have appreciated your visits and comments along the way and hope we can continue to connect when our regular blogging resumes.


  7. Congratulations on completing the A to Z Challenge. I’ve enjoyed reading your posts, many of which made me reflect on how my ancestors might have felt. I like the quotes you find to go with each post. Thank you for a wonderful series about finding gratitude in all things from A to Z.

    For me Zen is an attitude that you have to work to get to. It is too easy to fall into the “poor me” trap. I learned as a young mother that it’s no use worrying about something before it happens. I learned not to be upset about having to move… again… but to look at it like an adventure of new places and new friends. but really…17 times was enough! I learned how to be the zen mother to a group of girls on their first 8 day camping trip, with half the girls crying the first days, and the other half crying nearer the end. When I keep getting fractures from osteo, then see a woman at the clinic with two broken legs and no family in this country, that puts me in my place… at least I can walk and have my loving family around me… suck it up!
    I like to believe most of my ancestors found their zen place too, as they dealt with life’s difficulties. It is surely food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your reflective comments Dianne. I reckon moving 17 times would test anyone’s zen. There are always other worse off than us but in the “heat of the moment” it’s not always easy to be zen about it. I did smile at your story of the girls. I remember one birthday party where youngest daughter and her friends wanted to watch a somewhat distressing movie…we would up making hot chocolate, drying tears, and consoling about 10 youngsters before they calmed down and went to sleep.


  8. Thank you for giving us so much to ponder on, as we followed your A-Z theme. I was struck by your comment that Zen was achieving a state of calmness and gratefulness – very apt in the world today. It did occur to me, though, that it was our ancestors, who were not content to accept their life as it was, who fought for developments in society,

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s a beautiful zen garden. Great post. Congratulations on reaching z.

    I hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.

    J Lenni Dorner~ Co-host of the #AtoZchallenge, Debut Author Interviewer, Reference& Speculative Fiction Author

    Liked by 1 person

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