My Life as a Zen Failure

  • Posted on: 15 April 2023
  • By: Joe

                My Life as a Zen Failure

                    Joe Shakarchi


I tried to meditate 

sitting in lotus position 

on a cushion on the floor 

my knees kept aching 

getting up was hard 

my chiropractor gave me two choices: 

keep sitting in lotus 

or continue to be able to walk —

now I meditate in a chair 

or lying down in bed 


This began my career as a Zen Failure


I tried studying dharma 

and sutra philosophy 

attempted to understand emptiness and void 

but I kept returning to fullness— 

tried to become no-self 

but no matter how hard I tried 

when I looked in the mirror 

there I 



I tried non-attachment to my desires 

it worked for a while 

I gave up drugs 

stopped thinking about money— 

but I continued to hunger 

for love, food, sex, poetry, beauty 

not always in that order


I tried living in a monastery 

became kinder and gentler 

surrounded by robes, bows and smiles 

but there was drama in the dharma 

monks, nuns and priests still human 

broken hearts, broken vows 

addicts and depressives

far from enlightenment 

and I was still 




I tried to reach enlightenment 

to find Nirvana in this lifetime 

but darkness kept entering the light 

yin always took turns with yang 

the moon kept turning in its phases


I finally gave up trying— 

gave up meditation, dharma, philosophy 

detached from non-attachment 

lost my desire to have no desires 

accepted my fate as a 

Zen Failure


I have now achieved my goal 

of no longer having 

a goal


My final failure— 

in the face of a life of endless suffering 

I found a life of endless joy:  

lazy man's meditation 

blissful lack of understanding 

embracing my desires 

living with my loved one 

finding the beauty in twilight

seeing the miracle in all things


So ends my journey as a Zen Failure—

smiling into the sunset 

laughing all the way 

to the Land of the Jewel 

in the Lotus