Excellence Reporter: Taco, what is the meaning of life?
Taco van der Mark: This is the question which has been on my mind since my childhood. What is the purpose of Life, what am I doing here on this earth? In my teens I remember one of those silent summer evenings at my sister’s place. We were sitting in the garden, drinking a cup of tea and watching a sunset. “You want to know the meaning of life?”, my brother-in-law asked, “This is it.”
I couldn’t agree. There should be more than just this moment, right? For many years I continued on the path of thinking about the meaning of life. My Protestant upbringing would answer that question as God’s will, but for me that was not fullfilling. Is this the meaning of life? And did this belief make me a happy person? To be honest: not really.
A chronic disease, divorce and burnout were needed to shake me up at 33. It was about time to get out of my head and to experience life directly. The key for me was Zen meditation. A quote of Alan Watts still inspires: “Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”
The simplicity of everyday life: cleaning the house, burning incense, making coffee, driving the car, really listening to someone… ‘God’ becomes identical with daily life. Every little thing counts, every little thing is sacred. It’s as simple as that. Nothing special.
If we live our life this way, miracles happen. Life starts to flow. Not getting caught up in all sorts of ‘mud mind,’ it becomes crucial to create a sense of coming home to ourselves. Being in harmony with the universe – or as the Chinese say, in harmony with Heaven and Earth – this energy will naturally radiate outwards. Life starts to make sense.
For me the meaning of life is to make it light. ‘Mud-mind’ leaves us constipated, stagnated and often frustrated. Look around at how many people have a deep frown on their forehead. Many of us feel deeply dissatisfied with life. But hey, the good news is: you can wake up in this moment and free your mind. Travel light!
One of my favourite Zen stories is a man who meets his master and talks about his life events. There is so much to tell, he can’t stop! The master asks him if he would like some tea. He answers yes and the master pours the tea in his cup, until it flows over. The man is shocked and shouts ‘Stop, can’t you see the tea is flowing over?’. The master keeps pouring the tea and answers: please empty your cup. In Dutch language cup can also mean ‘head’.
Learning to empty our cup – empty our head from judgments, opinions, negative thoughts and emotions – automatically our cup of life will be filled with gratefulness, happiness, inspiration and love. Like a lotus flower that grows from the mud, so we can transform our ‘mud-mind’ slowly into a mind flower.
~Taco van der Mark and his wife Ping Fang have a clinic for Traditional Chinese Medicine in The Hague, Netherlands. Ping Shu Yuan – Center for Harmony – offers patients acupuncture, Chinese herbs and a combination of Qi Gong and Zen meditation. Our wish for everyone is to:
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