There is a simple Buddhist parable that I enjoy titled “The Second Arrow”. I really enjoy parables because they pack a ton of wisdom in a simple and easily understandable story. Imagine a warrior being shot with an arrow on the battle field. The warrior can’t avoid the pain that the arrow is causing; what they can control is how they react to the arrow. The reaction to the pain of the first arrow is the second arrow.
“In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.” -Buddha
The first arrow represents the inevitable pain that will be cast upon us throughout life. For example, this pain might be the death of a family member or the loss of a relationship. The second arrow is our reaction to the pain, which brings us the possibility of choice. I find that having a choice in my reaction to pain is both exciting and freeing! We can feel the pain but not react emotionally to it. Instead of complaining, wallowing, or fighting the pain we can accept the pain as impermanent and move on from it. In my experience, this change in mindset can allow us to live a more meaningful and content life. Life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.
Can we for 1 second just think about how amazing it is to be alive? The odds of us being born on paradise (earth) were practically zero. Congratulations you won the astronomical jackpot and arrived on earth! I’m grateful for the internet, which allows me to share my message of peace, love, and positivity.
Gratitude is the cure for the common complainer. When ever we complain about work, family, and friends we are forgetting how lucky we are to have them in the first place. When we complain about life, we forget how lucky we are to be alive! Gratitude is also the antidote for anger, just think about it… How can you be angry at someone while being grateful? Once you express gratitude towards your spouse or family member you lose all anger towards them. Gratitude helps us remember why we chose to have someone in our life.
I’m grateful for all the mistakes I have made in my life because they taught me a lesson, what not to do. I’m grateful for ex-fiance for leaving me because without that lesson I wouldn’t have grown into the man I am today. I’m grateful I took the risk to leave my career on the mainland and plunge into the unknown. Each mistake and decision have led to this moment, this blog, and the message I’m passionate about.
I’m grateful for you. Our most precious commodities are time and attention. You have chosen to use some of your time and attention to read my story. It’s not my story though, it’s our story. We are all on this earth together and I’m grateful for all of those who have helped me on my journey. I’m grateful for life, everything else is extra!
Compassion sets us free of hatred. Compassion heals the wounds of the past. Compassion shows love to those who have hurt.
I truly believe compassion is needed right now more than ever. Compassion for ourselves. Compassion for the environment and all living creatures. Compassion for those who are in so much pain they choose to hurt others.
I want to make it clear that I don’t condone the behavior of white nationalists; their values are the polar opposite of mine. They are attached to an identity that is built on hatred, fear, and separatism while I choose to believe in peace, love, and interconnectivity. This is why I choose to have compassion and love for them. It would be easier to hate them and want them to disappear from society but this would go directly against my values.
We can show them the other path, the path of inter-connectivity, peace, compassion, and love. The path of the peaceful warrior. Like a lighthouse directing ships out of the darkness, we can show them compassion to lead them out of the darkness of hatred and fear.
You’re not your job. You’re not your bank account. You’re not defined by what car, house or clothes you buy….
We are much more than a vocation, object or label. Our life is defined by how we treat ourselves, others, and nature.
On the surface, the movie Fight Club seems like another violent movie about men fighting and terrorizing a city BUT it is so much more than that. I hear minimalists, Buddhists, and spiritual writers quote Fight Club and list it as their favorite movie. Dig a little deeper than the surface and the true meaning of the movie is obvious; the internal fight within all human beings. It’s about the struggles of consumerism and the empty void it brings when we get attached to objects as if they were sentient beings. It depicts the struggle of working a job you hate to buy things you don’t need to impress people who you don’t like.
I’m not saying that we should throw away all our stuff and live a life of a monk! I want to share a middle path between rampant consumerism and deprivation. A path that you can call minimalism, intentional living, and/or simple living. A life not held back by a huge hoard of knick knacks, storage units, and thousands of items that have no purpose or function in the home. A life that you don’t need to work that job you hate to afford the items that don’t bring lasting happiness to your life.
Fight Club depicts the dangers of attachment to impermanent objects while showing the inner struggle of finding meaning in a world obsessed with meaninglessness. Most of us want to find meaning in this world. We want to live with a purpose, passion, and feel like we left our small imprint in the world. I’m here to share my experience that attachment to material objects, jobs, and money has not led to a meaningful life for me.
Must we sell ourselves for the dollar bill? Must we lie, mislead, and cheat to impress our boss to get that big promotion? These are questions I asked myself every day when I was a sales representative for a wine distributor. I want to make it clear that I’m not judging those who work in sales, we all have to pay the bills and support our families. My issue is with the culture of many corporations, which in general, is to focus on profit over values. I truly believe a company can thrive while being honest, caring, and contribute to the local community. It just takes a little more effort and passion for integrity.
Fast forward 2 years and I’m leaving for Maui, Hawaii. I moved here to live a more simple life and learn about the Hawaiian/local culture, my actions when arriving were not in line with my vision though. I felt obligated to take a job in the wine sales industry because my company on the mainland helped land me an interview. I took it out of fear though, not love. One week into my job I felt depressed, stressed, and my gut was telling me to quit before I was fully trained. I put my two-week notice in immediately and went into the exciting unknown.
I told myself that I will not sacrifice my values for the highest bidder. I will live a more authentic life where I have less internal struggle and more peace. I now drive a van, clean dishes, and do lots of manual labor for a living but I don’t have to sacrifice my values for the dollar bill. I now am free to focus on this blog, Facebook/Instagram page, and look to the future for how I can contribute to society in a positive way.
Welcome to the Zen Hoff blog! I have finally turned “someday” into “today” and took the leap to start this blog. This blogs intention is to incite interest in a simple, authentic and healthy life in a world obsessed with chaos. First off, my name is Jonathan Hoffman and I’m a new resident to the beautiful island of Maui. I’ll save all the details of why I moved to Maui for a later post but for now, I wanted to explain why I started this blog. I started this blog because I have a passion for simple living, minimalism, Zen Buddhism, and authentic living. It hasn’t always been this way, three years ago I was living a chaotic life full of stress, lies, self-abuse, and depression. This all ended abruptly when my engagement fell apart and I hit rock bottom. I had to look myself in the mirror and analyze the man I had become. I was thirty pounds overweight and addicted to gambling, alcohol, and cigarettes. I quit smoking, cut down my drinking, lost 30lbs, and found new ways to deal with stress like meditation and long walks. My new passion for minimalism, Zen Buddhism, and authentic living is far from perfect but it helps me live a more meaningful life. I started this blog to share what I have learned these past three years to hopefully inspire someone else to live a more simple and authentic life. Thank you for reading my first blog; I’m excited to get the ball rolling and post more frequently. You can follow me at “Zen Hoff” on Facebook and @zen_hoff on Instagram.