‘Ware tada shiru taru’ – All You Need, You Already Have.

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6th April 2024

There is a famous stone water basin or “tsukubai” outside of the even more famous Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, with four characters that read: “ware tada shiru taru.”

This is a Zen saying that can be translated in a number of ways, all to do with contentment.

But my favorite translation is: “All you need, you already have.”

I find it such a lovely way of looking at life.

As you sit here reading this, pause & take an assessment of your life right now.

Chances are, you have enough food, clothing, shelter & other basic necessities in your life.

You might also have loved ones, people who care about you.

You are mostly comfortable, without any desperate needs – All you need, you already have.

And yet we don’t see life this way, we are dissatisfied, looking for more comfort, more love, more knowledge, more certainty, more possessions, more food, more entertainment, more validation.

I do this too.

Without criticizing anyone, I think we don’t often embody the idea that we already have enough.

If we remember to do so, we can give thanks for what we have. We can appreciate the beauty, the preciousness, of every moment, of being alive.

It is actually a miracle, and we don’t have to take it for granted.

So to me, the question is: how can we learn to embody this idea of “All you need, you already have.”

It’s nice to say that we have all we need, but what does this mean in practice?

What actions can we take to help us remember this?

It’s hard to remember to be present and grateful and filled with enough-ness throughout the day, with all that we have going on, with all of our distractions and internal stories.

So I recommend forming little rituals that help us remember.

  • Wake up and say a little prayer of thanks for what you have in your life.
  • Keep a one-paragraph gratitude journal every evening.
  • When you meet someone, bow to them (in your mind) out of respect. You might touch your heart or offer them a smile if that helps.
  • When you eat, say a little prayer of thanks to everyone who made your meal possible (farmers, cooks, transporters, their families, etc.). Appreciate every bite if you can.
  • Before you start a new activity, a work task, a workout, a meeting, pause and ask yourself what your intention is for this activity. Is it focused on helping others?
  • When you are done with an activity, show respect for others, your environment and your equipment by respectfully and mindfully cleaning up, instead of rushing to the next activity.
  • You might also ask yourself, before you buy something whether you really need more or if you have enough.
  • Ask yourself, as you interact with someone else, whether you’re showing them deep respect and appreciation, whether you’re focused on helping them or protecting yourself.
  • Ask yourself, regularly throughout your day, whether you have all you need.

I think you’ll find that you do, and by appreciating that fact more often, you can see what a profound miracle life is.

Embody contentment & stay blessed forever.