Zen & The Mindful Art of Business

I hope you’re all well and enjoying the first few days of February! I personally am enjoying the sunshine, taking sweet walks on the beach with my dog Mochi, and feeling the promise of a beautiful spring right around the corner.

My heart is so full and happy as I reflect on my birthday (Jan. 31st). I usually celebrate the entire month—a time filled with my favorite past time: lingering over afternoon tea and reconnecting with dear friends.

In the midst of these celebrations, I had the joy of gathering nearly 50 entrepreneurs and friends for a Zen & the Art of Mindful Eating workshop with the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) Los Angeles.

At the workshop, we discovered how the simple acts of preparing and savoring food can become profound practices of mindfulness.

Eight Zen Buddhist monks flew in from corners of the world (as far as Japan and Brazil) to share their wisdom in the serene space of the Japan House in Los Angeles.

Of all the many insights shared, the concept of the Six TastesBitter, Sweet, Salty, Sour, Spicy, and Paly – was the most impactful for me.

These six tastes represent the diverse experiences not only in food but also the six personalities we encounter in many of our relationships.

What is Paly?

I was most captivated by the word: Paly –  a new word I had never heard before.

Paly teaches us about preserving the original flavor of the food—not overshadowing or altering its essence.

“How many times have you spiced or salted your food without even tasting it?”

Paly urges us to respect the intrinsic and natural qualities of the food before us – not trying to change it.

This mirrors how we should approach our personal and professional relationships. Each person we meet has a unique ‘taste’, and appreciating this diversity adds richness to our lives.

In relationships, it means embracing others without the desire to change them.

“If only she. . . If only he . . .”

We often try to mold humans to conform to our own worlds and our own expectations.

Paly, however, guides us to approach people with a sense of belonging and acceptance.

In our businesses, the insight of the Six Tastes is important because it invites us to not only welcome a variety of viewpoints but to accept and appreciate the diverse people and personalities we live and work with.

Like food, each person, whether they bring a bitter, sweet, salty, sour, or spicy essence, contributes to the richness of our world.

By allowing all these tastes to coexist harmoniously, we create an environment that is wonderfully interesting and inclusive.

Imagine the vibrancy and energy we can bring to our ventures by embracing this radical acceptance of all personalities.

From vendors to employees and clients, each unique archetype adds color and excitement to our lives.

Wisdom for Entrepreneurs

During the Q&A period, I asked Reverend Taigo Ito, a former entrepreneur who worked in the fashion industry (and is now a Zen monk), his advice for entrepreneurs.

His response, after a thoughtful pause:

“Stay on the Middle Path.”

This principle, a cornerstone in Buddhism, speaks to the art of finding your center.

As entrepreneurs, it’s a call to remain in the eye of the hurricane, calm amidst life’s storms, embodying the words of Buddha:

“The Middle Way is the path that leads to liberation.”

By following this path, we can aim for success while remaining anchored in our values and mindful of our impact on ourselves and those around us.

The Six Tastes of the Middle Path offer a way to flourish in business.

It encourages us to lead with purposeful acceptance, grounded in a solid foundation, and open to learning from every interaction.

This approach creates ripples of positivity and radiance that touch everyone we meet, leading to a more successful business.

As we continue on our entrepreneurial journey, let’s be open to the diversity and centeredness of the Six Tastes and the Middle Way.

Together, these two concepts guide us towards businesses that are not only successful but also deeply fulfilling.

Wishing you love and light always,

Kalika Yap

CEO, Citrus Studios