How Do I Know What Formula To Give My Newborn Is That So?

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Is That So?

My favorite passage in Eckhart Tolle’s The New Earth is the chapter “Is It So?”

I found this piece of writing very powerful. Leave it to a Zen master to give us a powerful insight into ego mastery.

So the story goes……

The Zen master Hakuin lived in a Japanese city. He was a revered Zen master and many people came to him for spiritual instruction. Then it happened that his neighbor’s teenage daughter got pregnant. When her angry parents asked her the identity of her father, she finally said it was the Zen master Hakuin.

The angry parents rushed to Hakuin and told him with great shouting and accusation that their daughter had confessed that he was the father. He only replied, “Is that so?”

The news of the scandal spread throughout the city. The master lost his reputation. It didn’t bother him. No one came to see him again. He remained motionless. When the child was born, the parents brought the child to Hakuin. “You’re the father, so you watch over him.” The master took loving care of the child. A year later, the mother regretfully admitted to her parents that the child’s real father was a young man who worked in a butcher shop.

In great distress, they went to Hakuin to apologize and ask for forgiveness. “We are very sorry. We came to take the child back. Our daughter admitted that you are not the father.” “Really?” is all she would say as she handed the baby over to them.

The master responded to bad news and good news in exactly the same way: “Is it so?” He allows the momentary form, good or bad, to be what it is, and thus does not become part of the human drama. Events are not personalized. He is no one’s victim. Only when you resist what is happening will you be at the mercy of what happened and the world will determine your happiness and unhappiness.

Briefly imagine how the ego would have reacted at different stages in the course of these events. How did you react to this story? What emotions did you experience? Now imagine yourself reacting the way Zen Master Hakiun reacted to this situation.

Is there a situation in your life right now that is being consumed by the ego? Could you say “Is that so?”

Practice this new reality. Live in the moment and practice the art of non-resistance. If you become friendly in an instant, life becomes friendly to you: people become helpful, circumstances become cooperative.

Ultimately, as Eckhart Tolle says, the decision to make the present moment your friend is the end of the ego. The ego can never be in tune with the present moment. Time is what the ego lives on.

There are many valuable lessons in Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth.

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