Stealing Turkeys: a Zen perspective

I had a turkey stolen off my porch this weekend. My friend, Inga, had called me several weeks ago to ask if I wanted a “…turkey the size of a Volkswagen.” I said that yes, I wanted it (even though I don’t have room for it in my freezer).

Her husband decided to drop it off this past Saturday. He had tried to get in touch with me but I had left my phone out of audible distance. I was putting my son to bed in a dark house when my daughter came up and said, “Dad, there was someone making ding dong.” (She’s three.)

I had not heard the doorbell.  I don’t ever dispute my daughter’s claims about reality (Even when she’s telling me that giraffes are getting haircuts in our yard, I see them myself) and went out to see if some solicitors or preachers were out in the dark street. I saw no one and figured kids had been out selling chocolates for their schools. Our neighborhood sees them very often and they move quickly.

Apparently, in the time between my friend dropping this turkey off (one that had been the size of a Volkswagen) and the time it had taken me to come out on the porch—this could not have been more than twenty minutes—the turkey disappeared. There is no animal (besides a person) in our community who could take a turkey this size, certainly not a frozen one.

Prior to having started my Zen practice, I would have been furious and depressed. I would have blamed myself for not hearing the doorbell, and I would have been calling my friend with every possible apology. Amazingly, I don’t feel this way, not in the least. I actually feel a gentle elation.

I do not need a turkey. I will only have two visitors this Thanksgiving and they, Europeans, would rather eat fish. My plan was to smoke the turkey with a friend and then to divide it up among people. It seems I won’t need to do the work. The turkey found someone all on its own, someone who is needy or does not have the will to buy or shoot one. Perhaps it was someone who could buy his own turkey but now feels jubilation, a score! These fools left a turkey on their porch! Idiots! It’s mine!

I am sincerely happy for this person. I really do hope the bird feeds a large number of people. I hope the person who prepares it does it with care and interest, and I hope the person who took it feels the freedom to tell everyone at their table how thankful he is that a turkey had been waiting for him on a stranger’s porch.

It had never been my turkey. This experience makes it clear. No turkey is ever ours. I’m so thankful to be able to see this with clarity and peace.

by Karolis Zukauskas

Karolis is an Advanced Member at the Zen Life & Meditation Center. This article is from his blog site, Liquid Ink which can be found at


The Basic Paradox

Forget every lesson you've ever been taught.The practice of grace becomes part of the grind. You are the seeker and also the sought.

Burn all your bridges and the books you bought. Those who can't see will be led by the blind. Forget every lesson you've ever been taught.

You can't think your way free from a prison of thought. What looks like the lifeline is part of the bind. You are the seeker and also the sought.

Stop fighting the fires you've always fought; never mind the chatter of the chattering mind. Forget every lesson you've ever been taught.

The mind is the trap in which the mind is caught. What can be left must be left behind. You are the seeker and also the sought.

The truth is that which cannot be forgot (what never was lost is the hardest to find). Forget every lesson you've ever been taught. You are the seeker and also the sought.

by Taylor Mali

The Need to Win

"When an archer is shooting for nothingHe has all his skill. If he shoots for a brass buckle He is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold He goes blind Or sees two targets– He is out of his mind!

His skill has not changed. But the prize Divides him. He cares He thinks more of winning Than of shooting– And the need to win Drains him of power."

Chuang Tzu

A Message from the Hopi

"You have been telling people that this is the Eleventh Hour.Now you must go back and tell them this IS the hour. And there are things to be considered: Where are you living? What are you doing with your life? How are your relationships doing? Are you in right relation with those around you? It is time to speak your truth, to create your community. Be good to each other, and look within to find your guide. This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and so swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart. And they will suffer greatly. Be there for them. And know that the river has its destination.

The Elders say that we must let go of the shore, Push off into the middle of the river, and Keep our eyes open and our head above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history we are to take nothing personally. Least of all ourselves. For the moment we do, our spiritual journey comes to a halt.

Banish the word 'struggle' from your attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in the sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for."

from The Elders, Oraibi, Arizona, Hopi Nation

The Perfect Freedom of Strangers

"The freedom of the free world tends towards the perfect freedom of strangers. When Vietnamese refugees settled in Southern California they found its culture toxic to something they had always taken for granted, their family life. It's a free country, you can do what you want: get married, get divorced, settle down, leave town, ski, farm, talk on the radio, buy the radio; the problem is to find someone to do it with.In this old lovers' quarrel between liberty and community, Westerners are those who defend freedom . . . Those particularly American movie heroes, the cowboy and the private eye, act out for us the drama of survival in a land where man has no attachments. The cowboy and the detective survive despite lives of complete rootlessness, and they do it by fighting the lawlessness that is the necessary companion to the perfect freedom of strangers."

from The Gift by Lewis Hyde

Psalm 1

Blessed  are the man and womanwho have grown beyond their greed and have put an end to their hatred and no longer nourish illusions.

But they delight in the way things are and keep their hearts open day and night.

They are like trees planted near flowing rivers, which bear fruit when they are ready.

Their leaves will not fall or wither. Everything they do will succeed.

Openness is America's Greatest Strength

FareedZakaria"At the end of the day, openness is America's greatest strength. Many smart policy wonks have clever ideas that they believe will better American productivity, savings, and health care. More power to them all. But historically, America has succeeded not because of the ingenuity of its government programs but because of the vigor of its society. It has thrived because it has kept itself open to the world–to goods and services, to ideas and inventions, and above all, to people and cultures. This openness has allowed us to respond quickly and flexibly to new economic times, to manage change and diversity with remarkable ease, and to push forward the boundaries of individual freedom and autonomy. It has allowed America to create the first universal nation, a place where people from all over the world can work, mingle, mix, and share a common dream and a common destiny. Fareed Zakaria from The Post-American World

Einstein's Letter to a Rabbi

einstein1"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe," a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security."

from a letter Einstein wrote to a Rabbi who was seeking adviceon how to talk to his daughter about the death of his other daughter, her sister.