the accidental zen master
His name is Robert Maahs and he is going to be 92 years old on Monday. While this may not mean much to you, I am sure it means a lot to him and the world to me. Robert Maahs is my grandfather and one of the best men I know. I refer to him and the accidental Zen Master… more on this later.
Growing up I didn’t have a lot of positive adult role models save one, my grandfather. The values I learned from him have served me well as I have navigated through my life’s journey. He taught me to be honest, compassionate and most importantly on time. You could set a clock to his punctuality. While punctuality is just one of his many fine qualities this one in particular resonates with me the most. Being on time is a sign of respect. Not just respect for others but, respect for yourself in sense that it is a reflection of your person integrity and the regard you have to keeping your word.
Years ago I studied and practiced Zen Buddhism for seven years. When I say practiced, I mean in seven years I was never able to be perfect with it however, that is the beauty of the practice. This exists within every faith or philosophy; an understanding that life is about the journey more that the destination. This was the second of many parables I gleaned from being in the presence of my grandfather; presence.
It happened a few years back. My grandfather does most of the cooking. My grandmother has pretty bad arthritis and it is a struggle for her to gracefully handle the utensils required by the cooking process. My grandfather will feed you until you cannot fit another bite in your body. Mostly the meals consist of something that was caught from a nearby lake accompanied by fresh vegetables or salad. Eating well is no doubt one their secrets to longevity. I was observing my grandfather making a salad and I was moved by his intention. His mind did not waiver nor wander off to what he was going to be doing next. He was firmly in the present moment and he was chopping the carrots. He had embodied the process and he was the process. This was a moment of splendid beauty. My grandfather was chopping the carrots.
To the best of my knowledge my grandfather has never read book on Zen or the art of living in the present moment but, he has mastered it even if accidentally and I love him for this.
The singular most profound message from this experience is take your time, pay attention to details and celebrate that this very moment you have right here and right now is a gift, that is why it is called a present.