Morning Cup of Zen

I’m currently subscribed to 13 (coincidence) podcasts, three via NPR and a few other NPR-style programs like KCRW’s Left, Right and Center. Of them, my favorite is NPR’s Most Emailed Stories, a daily assortment of “the best of Morning Edition, All Things Considered and other award-winning NPR programs,” based on reader recommendations.

Their “This I Believe” series of essays is often a good read/listen, and yesterday’s episode featured Randy Komisar, the author of The Monk and the Riddle, and a self-described former “typical Type-A: an ambitious Harvard lawyer on the rise who [moved] to Silicon Valley during the go-go years to help start and run a succession of companies.”

I reinvented my work around creativity. I love entrepreneurs and innovation, and I decided to piece together a new role working with entrepreneurs to help them create the future.

This of course was a challenge. I was used to the story being about me, but now it was about them. I was most successful when I faded into the woodwork and my protégés took the limelight.

This seemingly small nuance turned out to be the door that let in the whole world. It was not just making room for the people I worked with, it was making room for everything — my family and friends, a dog’s bark, a warm breeze, the crackle of lightning.

Certain Eastern philosophies interpret the world as a blend of Form and Emptiness. Form is the world we know through our five senses — the world of struggle and suffering. But Emptiness is not what it seems. To the senses it is a void, but when the senses retreat in confusion, Emptiness illuminates with compassion and insight.

In truth we live in both worlds and I believe that it is the ability, the willingness to bridge these worlds until they are one — to engage both mind and heart — that makes this life so precious.

While I’m sure being a successful lawyer in Silicon Valley’s heyday made it a lot easier for this kind of introspection, I have always been fascinated by Eastern philosophy and have been tempted for years to check out the School of Practical Philosophy, whose subway ads have always caught my eye and whose “practical” take is very appealing.

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