The coincidence is about caring for moments, not luck
Deep in the narrow streets of Gion, in the heart of Kyoto, there is a rustic Shachetsu, or a tea house. This ancient neighborhood is home to the last geishas and the unspeakable secrets of how to fade life; in the spring, its carpet is pebbled by the fallen sakura petals. In this cafe, particularly committed visitors may notice a wooden plaque suspended from a brown pillar. The inscription carries: 一 期 一 会
Ichigo ichie is clear, its meaning is something like this: what we are going through now will not happen again. We must appreciate every moment like a beautiful treasure. We must become fishermen for a moment.
One way to look at the transformational weight of moments is one through the concept of the famous Chaos Theory of the butterfly effect. The term is related to the saying that “a butterfly hitting its wings in Hong Kong could trigger a storm in New York.” In other words, any change, however small, will end in completely different circumstances due to an amplification process.
The decisive relationship between ichigo ichie and the butterfly effect is: Although we never know the final results of our actions and decisions, every moment has a fundamental value. What you do now will have a completely different, different result from what you might do at another time.
Ichigo ichie includes both the idea of observing and cherishing each moment, and practicing harnessing this concern for harmony with others and the love of life. Zen teachings, the Japanese version of Buddhism, give us many opportunities to incorporate ichigo ichie into our daily life. The following eight guidelines are especially useful for enhancing the power of observation:
- Just sit back and see what happens: Our spiritual myopia often causes us to look far – in space and time – of what is right before us. Zen has learned to simply sit and embrace the moment, without other ambitions. If we are with other people, we celebrate their company as a gift.
- Taste this moment as if it were your last breath: You can live one day at a time, and no one can be sure that he will wake up the next morning. So let us not postpone happiness. The best moment in your life is always this moment.
- Avoiding distractions: An ancient Japanese proverb says that a hunter who takes prey at the same time will not be killed. The same thing happens when we try to follow a conversation or read a book at the same time that we check our phone. Zen teaches us to do one thing at a time, as if it were the most important thing in the world. If you do it this way, it will be without question.
- Free yourself from all that is necessary: one can get to know an experienced traveler more than he leaves at home more than he carries in his travel bag. Life is an exciting adventure where you better travel through the light, so every day, whenever you feel tired, ask yourself, “What can I give up?”
- Be your own friend: Instead of comparing yourself to others and worrying about what other people think, suppose you are unique in the world.
- Celebrate the imperfection: If nature is not in all its complexities, with all its births and deaths, ideal, then why should it be? Every failure is a sign that you must follow a different path. Every flaw is an invitation to polish a diamond. If you want to improve, it is ideal to be incomplete.
- Practice compassion: From a Buddhist point of view, feeling sorry for someone does not mean feeling pity, but deep sympathy that allows us to travel toward the other to understand his motives, and if necessary, his mistakes. Everyone behaves according to the moments of personal growth in which they find themselves. Even when they act in odious ways, this is the best they can do with what they have.
- Leave your expectations: Making predictions, while waiting for certain things to happen, is a sure way to kill this moment. Ichigo ichie is experienced with the mindfulness taught by Zen.
Another way to sharpen attention is to keep a diary. Writing down our daily experiences makes us more aware of the nuances in reality and trains us to capture the subtle messages of opportunity.
Finally, meditation can help us recognize the coincidences more easily. Meditation establishes us today, as seashells appear, and increases the bandwidth of our perception.
When we experience – real experience – special moments, it seems as though life allows us to know that we are on the right track. We live ichigo ichie.