Poverty is your treasure

Dear brothers and sisters,

“Poverty is your treasure. Never exchange it for an easy life.” – This is words of Zengetsu, a Chinese master of the T’ang dynasty. (No attachment to dust, Story 77 in 101 Zen Stories – Zen Master Nyogen Senzaki compiled, anh Hoành translated and annotated).

What does the Zen master mean?

Many people are afraid of poverty because they worry about not having enough food, or not having good shelter. However, many rich people, having lived a complex life,  prefer living simply, eat simply and dress simply.

Many people are afraid  of poverty because they worry about being despised. Rich people know that they won’t be despised by being poor but they may be despised by other things they do.

Worrying about ourselves is the source of fear.

So Zen master Zengetsu’s teaching that “poverty is your treasure”  means poverty helps you be non-self. It is much easier to be non-self when you don’t own much.

When you are non-self, you don’t fear of being despised. More exactly, you fear nothing. Not fearing poverty, not fearing the future, not fearing what people say with you…

The Zen master’s teaching doesn’t mean that you don’t need to study and work hard. Perhaps it means: You need to study and work hard; however, when poverty comes to you, accept it. Everything coming to you is good, for everything is a chance to practice non-self – a chance to practice calmness.

Receive poverty with thanksgiving and calmness.

Have a nice day.

Phạm Thu Hương

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