Is Simplifying Life the Secret to Happiness?

There’s a story about a student who approached a Zen master and said “I want happiness.”

The teacher replied, take out “I” from the sentence, then take out “want”, and you will be left with “happiness.”


It makes for a great story.

But does it mean all we have to do is strip everything into its simplest form? Turn everything into black and white. On to the straight and narrow path to happiness.


I wish it was that easy.

That happiness is only a matter of subtraction.

Go down to the barest, lose your ego, lose any desire, suffer no disappointment.

I believe it goes beyond that. We can’t stop being human. We would not give up being able to experience joy in the birth of a child, even if it means feeling the deep sadness in the departure of a loved one.

We will be at times sad, angry, abhorred, afraid, and, yes, also happy.

It is in the journey, not at the end.

The simplest sentence has no words at all.


One of the Most Beautiful Sights in Kyoto

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”
– Benjamin Disraeli


I may not be as great a traveler as Benjamin Disraeli, but I have seen quite a bit and remember quite a few.

Among those things I’ve seen and remember is the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. I do like temples and, though not a Buddhist, I find it soothing to the soul when I’m in a Zen temple or garden. This one in particular captures harmony between heaven and earth, and also shines in its beautiful setting.

The Golden Pavilion is worth visiting for a sight to remember, if not to soothe one’s soul.

Some facts about the Golden Pavilion
1. It is a World Heritage Site.
2. The top two stories are covered with gold leaf.
3. The gold is to purify any negative thoughts towards death.
3. Its origin dates back to the 1400s.
More info on the Golden Pavilion here.


The Story of a Fortress

He tried, he really did. He put his whole being into it, he made her the center of his universe.

But the more he tried, the more it was slipping away. The more he surrounded her with this fortress, the more determined she seemed to escape.

Until one day she left. And he was empty, for every moment of his waking hour, every thought and every part of his being as humanly possible he gave her.


Then he saw a castle and he saw it in his heart — was he protecting her, or was he protecting himself? Was he putting this fortress not around her but around his heart so he won’t get hurt?

Slowly he knocked down the walls, bit by bit. He cried, he laughed, he got hurt again, and didn’t mind.

He made a leap of faith, and things started coming to him, including the peace of mind that he never found inside his fortress. The inner peace that only comes from freedom.

She did come back, as a butterfly. And he was happy for her, as only one who has found freedom can.


Sydney Harbour at Night When the Tourists Are Gone

Sometimes, like people, a place can reveal its inner character when you catch it when it is alone.


Sydney Harbour is one of the most popular places for tourists. During the day, it is packed with people and pigeons. Aside from the Ferry Terminal it also has attractions surrounding it like the Opera House, museums, as well as hotels and restaurants. It can be quite busy indeed.


Until you let all of them go and see a different side. It is a dock, a port, after all. At night when the tourist are gone it goes back to its nature, quite lonely I suppose.


Even the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where all the cruise ships dock, falls silent and gives lovers in a quarrel some space.
Ambience Unseen