A monk once asked Basho, “What is the essence of your practice?”

He replied, “Whatever is needed.”

Basho was a 17th century monk, poet and teacher.  The complete and utter richness of Basho’s response is something I am coming to appreciate.

Can any practice possibly be as simple as recognizing what is needed and just doing it?

In the dojo we place our hands together and bow at the beginning of class.  As we practice, there’s a feeling of connection between nage and uke.  From that the simple gesture of raising our hands to remaining upright while throwing our uke there is nothing in the dojo except ‘whatever is needed.’  At the zendo, bowing to the Buddha and sitting zazen fits the bill.

It’s a powerful idea.  Moving away from social requirements and expectations provides the opportunity to awaken every day and ask, ‘What will be needed today?’

Every day my questions serve as building blocks for the day:

  • What will this day bring?
  • What is required of me?
  • Can I recognize what exactly is necessary in each and every moment?

Simple questions are the building blocks that create mindfulness in action, a never-ending mantra.

This idea of “whatever is needed” seems to simplify my decision-making. Living in the moment creates fewer complications.  It helps to reduce opinions, let go of desires, and changes ideas about gaining merit or worth.

What does it take to commit to Basho’s lesson?  Whatever is needed?


One Response to “Whatever”

  1. Paula Schank Says:

    What a reminder. Taking things personally doesn’t work!

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