I am not a Buddhist, I am a Christian, but I am intrigued by the concept of Zen. From what I have read, it is a concept that is a bit difficult to define. Different sources say somewhat different things about it, so I have sort of come up with my own understanding of what it means for me. And yes, it is also difficult to define. Today the fishes helped me understand it very clearly for myself. My own personal Zen.
For quite some time now, I have been going down to the small pool beneath the waterfall and feeding the fish. At first, they would not come near me, but stayed hidden in the deeper, darker water at the base of the falls. They would dart out of the darkness like a lightning bolt, snap up the morsels of food, and be gone in literally a flash. Slowly, over time, that has changed. Gradually they have come closer and their fear has diminished. But today was special.
Today, as I stood there, as still as a stone, slowly dropping one morsel at a time into the water and watching it fall, something wonderful happened. The fish started to swim all around me. No longer were they darting in and out, fearfully snatching the food and zipping back into the safety of the darkness. They floated quietly in the water at my feet and waited for me to drop the food to them. One or two of them were not even eating the food. They were watching me. I let some pieces float on top of the water, and they would come to the top of the water, and look at me. I made eye contact with them. We were studying each other. And that was the moment. That was the moment that I knew what the concept of Zen is for me. Everything else in the world seemed to vanish. There was only that magical moment, standing in the middle of the pool, encircled by beautiful, gentle, curious creatures who were as interested in me as I was in them. I could feel their fins brush against my feet and legs as gently as butterfly wings. My mind was completely clear. Gone were the little troubles and worries and everyday burdens I carry around and play over and over in my head all the time. Time itself seemed to disappear. I could feel the Oneness. I no longer felt like a separate being, but a part of everything around me. It was magical, wonderful, and transportive. A glimpse of a deeper, richer level of being where time does not really exist and everything is connected.
I still don't know that I can fully explain what Zen means, but I know that I have felt what it means for me. So, that is my Zen experience. The Zen of the fishes.