There is no zen in our cell phones

Cell Phone

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.” –  Alan Watts

I like to pressure wash stuff; sidewalks, driveways, patios, cars, trucks, dogs, just kidding, I don’t pressure wash my dogs, although. Pressure washing is simple and mindless work that provides instant gratification. To pressure wash my driveway from end to end will take me about two hours. I don’t do it very often, maybe once every three years but it needs to be done to keep the sludge and grim down. The results are immediate, from brown to bright white, an instant transformation.

The work is a slow grind and very messy. It doesn’t require any special skills just focus and attention to the job at hand. There is a connection that occurs, a melding of the moment, moving the wand of high pressure water back and forth. It is a movement that is repeated, over the course of two hours ten thousand times. The sound of the machine is loud and drowns out all of the physical distractions around me. There is no time and space, there is simply the now, this place, this activity, this moment. I find zen, my zen in this very simple task.

Much is written and said about zen as if it were an emotion like being happy or sad. The first qualifier is that it is not an emotion it is the farthest state from an emotion. Zen is a presence, a position and maybe a place in your soul if you can find it, a button that gets pushed. Zen is seeing things without all of the other traffic or images your mind wants you to see. Pressure washing the driveway is simply that, pressure washing the driveway, peeling potatoes is peeling potatoes. If you can empty your thoughts, stop the distortions your mind wants and needs to create and simply peel potatoes you have found a moment of zen however fleeting it maybe.

Finding these moments in today’s distracting world are difficult for all of us. The biggest distractor for me is the little 2.5 x 5 inch rectangle I carry around seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It buzzes, it chimes, it rings alerting me to things that 95% of the time can wait but we are programmed, like Pavlov’s dog, to react and respond.

There is no zen in our cell phones, better yet, there is no living to be found inside of our cell phones. Steve Jobs never found that magic moment, that app, which would transform us into more conscious human beings. Maybe your cell phone can direct you to a spot high on a mountain top that, if you simply took the moment in, you would find something. But instead, most of us take a selfie and post it to Facebook, or Instagram or send a Snapchat to 500 of our “closest” friends.

Our moments in this world are limited and fleeting. Don’t waste them, they are not retrievable. Point your eyes north away from the mesmerizing glass screen and find your zen, your moments of living, peeling potatoes in the present.

“The only Zen you can find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” – Robert M. Pirsig



About ends and beginnings blog

I am a frustrated writer and poet waiting to be discovered. A stand-up philosopher performing on a street corner near you. A Christian with questions but I don’t want to hear your answers. A Buddhist with a bumper sticker on my truck to prove it. A collector of quotes. A grower of lettuce. The Patron Saint of earthworms who name their children after me. A cyclist whose big ass strains the seams of his Lycra bibs. I am American by birth, Southern by the grace of God. My goal in life is to leave an imprint on the lives of the people I love not a footprint on the earth. I am a son, a husband, a father composed of 65%-Oxygen, 18%-Carbon, 10%-Hydrogen, 3%-Nitrogen, 3%-Diet Coke and 1%-Oreo.
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41 Responses to There is no zen in our cell phones

  1. Lively Life says:

    Just the right amount of pressure to do this better than I was. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. samanthamurdochblog says:

    Good reminder to find that moment…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anne J says:

    I love this; thank you! I do dishes – my zen 🙂 And long showers (forgive the water wastage)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 2buddhaornot2buddha says:

    This is a great article!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed this-thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patty says:

    Reminds me of ‘wash-in, wash-out’ or something like that…
    Gardening and walking the dog is my yoga, if people ask me about yoga.
    Love this article! XxX

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Apathy says:

    The “zen” I just found on my cell phone was reading this excellent post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Malavika says:

    Thank you for this reminder. It’s something I have been thinking about a lot recently. Time to disconnect with my phone and deepen my connection with myself. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is great. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. distantstarr says:

    Such a good article. Nice work. That final quote is BIG too. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As of 2017 I replaced my cell with a land line. I wrote a small piece of this decision. I know exactly what you mean about finding that Zen. Great write!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: Radio silence | Ends and Beginnings

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