I NOTICED that the trimmings and the trappings are being taken down at Queen's and the players have left the stage to go to their respective corners. Unfortunately the theatre on the hill remains closed as we await the rewriting of the six-county play and the outcome of the local elections. 

The good news as we wait is another son of Belfast will be returning this coming week from San Fancisco to his native soil. He is non other than my Buddhi and Bruddha, Zen master Ryushin Paul Haller. He will be here to open our new Zen centre at the corner of Cromac street and Donegal Pass. He will, as always on his visits home, be delivering talks and workshops on all things Zen. 

This is an exciting time for me as Paul has been my Zen teacher for the past 25 years and I always find myself energised for his arrival. If you are looking for Zen, Paul is Zen personified. Especially for someone like me, someone who was baptised in fear, someone who drank to medicate the fear and the feelings that fear produces. 

On meeting Paul all those years ago, and through the practice of Zen as my Step 11, I have found a new way to live and learned to breathe one breath at a time. I’ve also learned to mind my own business and here’s a Zen story that taught me that simple practice.

Once upon a time, in a small village nestled in the mountains, there was a wise Zen master. People would come from far and wide to seek his guidance and teachings. One day, a curious young man (rather like myself, I think) approached the Zen master and asked him how he could live a peaceful life.

The Zen master looked at the young man and said: "Mind your own business and you will find peace."

The young man was confused. "What do you mean, master?" he asked.

The Zen master smiled and said: "Imagine a river flowing down the mountain. The river doesn't concern itself with what is happening on the shore. It simply flows past, minding its own business. It is not troubled by the rocks, trees or animals that it encounters. It just keeps flowing, peacefully and naturally."

The young man nodded, understanding the metaphor. "So, I should just focus on my own life and not worry about others?"

The Zen master replied: "Exactly. When you mind your own business, you are not distracted by the affairs of others. You can focus on your own path and find peace within yourself. You can let go of judgement, envy and resentment, and simply be in the present moment."

The young man thanked the Zen master for his wisdom and left, feeling inspired. As he walked through the village, he noticed that many of the people he encountered were always busy gossiping, comparing themselves to others, and worrying about what others thought of them.

But the young man remembered the Zen master's words and decided to follow his advice. He focused on his own path and let go of the distractions around him. He discovered that when he stopped worrying about what others were doing, he had more energy and time to devote to his own goals and passions.

Over time, the young man became known for his peaceful and contented demeanour. He was no longer caught up in the drama of others, and he radiated a calm and serene presence.

People began to ask him how he had achieved such inner peace, and he shared the Zen master's teachings with them. Soon, the whole village began to practice minding their own business, and they too found peace and contentment.

And so, the village lived in harmony, each person focusing on their own path, and the whole community benefiting from their individual growth and progress. The wise Zen master smiled from his mountain home, knowing that his teachings had once again brought peace and wisdom to the world.

So there we have it – we know what to do and we know how to do it.