A student once asked Chao Chou, ‘Does a dog have Buddha Nature, or not?’ Chao Chou replied ‘Yes!’
~ Book of Serenity, Case 18 (yes, once more!)
Saying ‘yes’ to things takes risk, but it can lead to new, uncharted and exciting territory. It can also lead to a wonderful freedom.
I recently listened to a blogger and a sort of life coach, Carl Richards, of Behavior Gap Radio, talk about saying ‘yes’. He personally has a hard time saying ‘no’, so carries a ‘NO!’ card in his pocket to give himself quiet strength. At any rate, Carl once had a career mentor who advised him, ‘I want you to say ‘yes’ to everything (clubs, jobs, adventures, friends).’ That way, the mentor went on, ‘Saying ‘yes’ will lead you to a spot to say ‘no’ when it really matters.’
Generally, that has worked in my life, which has led to an improbable career path from Ketchikan to Tokyo, New York to San Francisco. It was great. But that is not really Chao Chou’s ‘Yes!’. Or at least not the whole of it. Carl’s coaching advice will take us only so far.
In Zen, we say ‘yes’ to everything, even stupid stuff: cars at the stop light, clouds in the sky and adult diapers left in the restroom. Yesterday, going to work, I decided to not discriminate and started saying ‘yes’ to lots of things: ‘yes’ to the escalator, ‘yes’ to people on the train, and ‘yes’ to an itchy mole on my neck. I found, as Chao Chou did with his dog, when I said ‘yes’ to things, everything began saying ‘yes’ back to me.