Bavarian Abbey or the Art of Zen

Ulla Hennig

Photo: Ulla Hennig

This is a photo of the Bavarian Abbey Benediktbeuern. What do monks have to do with the Art of Zen?

Maybe you know the old rule for the monks: “Pray and Work” or “Ora et Labora” in Latin. They either worked or prayed. They had to work in order to make a living, but that’s only one side of the matter. Working for them was a way to serve God, to cherish God. Could be wiping the floor, washing the dishes, digging potatoes, begging for food and drink. Serving God, however, meant to put all the energy in the work being done at the moment, in doing it properly. No way of just wiping the floor quickly and “forgetting” the corners – already thinking of the meal which would be served at noon.

And here is where the Art of Zen comes in – focusing on the thing you are doing at the moment. Going for some shopping? Try to feel the brisk november air. Look at the houses with their bright shining windows. Feel the wind going through your hair. Try to concentrate on the moment- it will be over soon enough.

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About Ulla Hennig

I live and work in Berlin. Taking photos is one of my hobbies, and writing is one of my hobbies, too. So I decided not only to show some of my pictures here but also present some of the thought which came wth the pictures.

7 responses to “Bavarian Abbey or the Art of Zen”

  1. Pat Denino says :

    What a lovely photo accompanying a thoughtful observation!

  2. Brad Shorr says :

    Wow, Ulla, great photo! One of my favorite authors, Thomas Merton, was a 20th century Trappist monk who lived in a monastery here in the central U.S. He was a brilliant spiritual writer and developed a keen interest in Eastern religion and spirituality. His later writings really bridge the gap between East and West and reveal how much alike we are in our hearts, regardless of our cultural heritage.

  3. Paul C. says :

    I like the little bike, a hint of adventure on the peaceful path.

  4. Joanna Young says :

    Ulla, this is a wonderful reminder of the ways that we can do spiritual practice. Simple things like digging the garden can be a way to meditate, reflect or give thanks if we get our focus and attention right.

    The photo is fantastic, thanks for sharing it.


  5. Karen Swim says :

    Ulla, once again an incredible photo and thought provoking post. The angle of the picture is so intriguing and although it appears to be an endless walk as your post noted it is a journey that has an end much like a moment that is here and gone. Savoring each moment and giving our full attention to it is truly beautiful. Thank you Ulla!

  6. Robert Hruzek says :

    What a beautiful photograph, Ulla! I love the diminishing repetition – it leads one’s thoughts from the macro to the micro. I like it!

  7. Jackie says :

    What a lovely photo. I felt calm just looking at it! It looks like a very peaceful place.

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