Announcing Why App?

Try out ZEN OF ERIC on Facebook Messenger.

The “5 why?” challenge

To gain deeper personal truths about why you do anything, or why you feel a certain way … the Zen of Eric Facebook Chat bot isn’t intelligent. It is not AI. It is rather a sounding board for your own thoughts. It won’t tell you anything you don’t already know in your own heart. ZEN OF ERIC (“Why App”) is a chance for you to ask yourself the big ‘why?’ questions in life, to discover a deeper truth for yourself.

If you have Facebook and Facebook Messenger, send ZEN OF ERIC a message here.

How it works

Essentially we programmed it the following way:

You start chatting with it and saying hello, then you can have the chance to introspect and think about certain things in life.

Once you start chatting, the ZEN OF ERIC chatbot will keep asking you “Why?” until you type: “stop“.

Why did we build this on Facebook messenger?

My friend Stoytcho built this on Facebook Messenger for the practical purpose that the Facebook Messenger app is a robust platform for chat bots and chat applications. Also, you can use it on your laptop, desktop, phone, or tablet. You can interact with it wherever, whenever.

Is there a ‘proper’ way to use Zen of ERIC?

No. Just play around with it. No need to use it if you don’t want to. Rather, see ZEN OF ERIC as a personal mirror or sounding board for yourself, if you just want to flesh out your own thoughts, and to type out and explicate your thoughts.

How to use ZEN OF ERIC in my everyday life

  1. When you’re bored at home, shoot a message to ZEN OF ERIC CHAT BOT to just say hello, to get your creative juices flowing.
  2. When you’re stuck on the toilet, instead of checking Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/News/Snapchat, start an introspection session with Zen of Eric.
  3. If you’re stuck in line at the grocery store, open up Facebook Messenger and say hello to Zen of Eric.
  4. When you wake up and feel unmotivated, instead of scrolling through email, shoot a message to Zen of Eric
  5. When you read the news and you feel really disappointed and afraid, send a message to Zen of Eric.
  6. Use Zen of Eric when you’re happy, bored, sad, depressed, anxious, or anything else!

Privacy concerns

Truth be told, we cannot put 100% faith in Facebook, or Facebook Messenger. It is quite unfortunate we had to build it on Facebook Messenger, but there is really no other better alternative (for now).

I (ERIC KIM) and my friend Stoytcho did not build this to extract any of your dirty secrets for ourselves. It is simply a tool I asked Stoytcho to build for me, for my personal reasons. Even I use it for myself and my sister Annette used it to discover deeper meaning in her life.

So my simple suggestion:

Don’t tell ZEN OF ERIC anything hyper-personal. We don’t really know what Facebook does with all our data.

All the conversations are not saved to a database. In other words, we (Eric, Cindy, and Stoytcho) can’t see what you write. Only you see your conversations with the Zen of Eric.

Also note:

Zen of ERIC is NOT Eric Kim! It is just a soul-less Facebook messenger chat bot, which is programmed to ruthlessly bombard you with “why?’s” to give you deeper philosophical truths about your own personal life.

Example ideas with ZEN OF ERIC

  1. You can start off with an example prompt to get your creative juices flowing, or you can say “no” and simply ask it any question on your mind.
  2. Some example questions include:
    1. Why do I feel so down?
    2. What is the purpose of my life?
    3. What should I do today?
    4. Why do I care about x, y, z?
  3. Keep asking it questions until you get bored, then type “stop“. Just use it enough for your own personal benefit.

What now?

So let us say you used ZEN OF ERIC, and you discovered some very interesting truth about your life. Now what?

My suggestion:

Write a blog post about your introspection, and share it with your friends and family!

Other ideas on how to make your introspections “actionable”

After your introspection session with Zen of Eric, here are some things you can do and actually ACT upon your newfound insights:

  1. Write yourself an email (send it to yourself) with your introspection.
  2. Write your introspection (just for yourself) on a piece of paper, or in your personal journal/diary.
  3. Talk with your friend/family member over dinner about your philosophical inquiry, and also ask them lots of “WHY?” questions as well.


URL: https://www.messenger.com/t/ZenOfEric

Dear friend,

The most powerful 3-letter word is “Why?”

Why is why important?

Hanoi, 2016

It is one of the first words we learn as a kid, yet is beaten out of us when we are young.

To be honest, when a kid always asks you, “Why?” it can get a bit annoying.

But that is where all of our creative energy, insight, and curiosity comes from.

To never be satisfied with answers, and to always keep asking:


How vs Why

Photo by Luis Donoso

I am a “how” person. I want practical skills, on how to do more stuff, to be more productive, how to be more rich, etc.

But more robust is the “Why?” question.

For example, don’t ask yourself how to make more money, but why make more money.

For me, I ask myself that all the time.

Why do you want to make more money, Eric?

Because I think if I have more money, I can help more people. I can help support my sister, my mom, myself, Cindy, and eventually have enough money to help my friends and local community in need.

Why do you want to help your family, friends, and others?

Because I believe they have so much untapped creative potential, yet their wages and dependence on money is holding them back.

Lesson: I want to empower everyone. To do the best creative work possible. To ultimately, empower all of humanity.

Blessings on blessings on blessings.

Berkeley, 2015 #cindyproject

I’m lucky enough that I have enough. Enough– I have the one all black outfit I wear everyday that I am satisfied with, that I think makes me look cool.

I don’t currently write on a laptop; all is done on an iPad on IA WRITER– it helps my carpal tunnel in my right thumb, from typing too much. I also prefer the 1 pound weight, even compared to the lightest laptops. I returned my 12-inch MacBook laptop recently, because I thought it was a waste of money for $1800. If I need to process photos or use Lightroom, I just borrow Cindy’s laptop. Or I might try to figure out how to use Lightroom on the iPad.

I don’t have a car, nor do I want a car. I don’t want to do stupid DMV payments, pay for insurance, fix and maintain the car, change the tires, change the oil, or have it take space. I prefer renting a car, or riding Uber.

I have a Ricoh GR II camera: the best digital camera ever made, for $600. If I lose or break it, I can easily buy another. I frankly think it’s a better camera, even compared to $7,000 digital Leica’s.

If I’m bored of photography, I have my film Leica. And ultimately, film will always look better, and be cooler than digital photography.

I don’t like owning a phone. So no more lusting after a new iPhone or android phone. Thousands of dollars, and stress saved.

I don’t need anything else

I like having bundles of cash sitting in the bank, doing nothing. Giving me some financial cushion, to sleep at night. I like not wasting money in stupid restaurants, with confusing names, and I always end up leaving hungry. I prefer eating cheap Vietnamese food anyways, and I can always eat my 5-6 egg snacks in the evening to assuage my hunger.

I have access to all the books of history via project Gutenberg, and I can read them for free as .epub files, or PDF, or text. No more books I need to buy.

Tokyo, 2016

I like living in a small studio apartment, or cheap hotel. I don’t like owning furniture, too much stress. I don’t really wanna own a home: too much taxes, stress of fixing broken toilets, and shit falling apart.

I don’t want to own an office space. Less freedom to travel to coffee shops and do creative work.

Dalat, Vietnam 2016 / Photo by Cindy

I used to want to live in a fancy city like SF, NYC, or Tokyo– but I don’t like paying a lot of money for rent. I prefer to live in LA, Saigon, or any city with a lower cost of living. Less stress about rent, more freedom to buy more espresso, and play.

I don’t want to have a lot of responsibilities or burdens in life. I just want maximum freedom to write, read, think, philosophize, share, teach, and explore. I want to be a child, forever.

I’ll always desire more.

Dalat, 2016

Obviously, I am still a sucker for technology, materialism, consumerism, and shit I don’t need. It’s in my American DNA.

But whenever I feel stressed about money, worried about the future, or concerned– I always ask myself the question:


I feel that so much of us would be a lot more happy if we just asked ourselves “Why?” more often.

For myself, I always desire to buy more shit I don’t need, or feel anxiety, because of the following reasons:

  • Desire to impress others
  • Fear of homelessness, bankruptcy, death.
  • Fear of living a life not to the maximum
  • Fear of looking dumb in front of others
  • Fear of regret dying with unfulfilled dreams

But honestly, I got everything I need. I got Cindy, my family, friends, internet, coffee, and my camera. I got this blog, and a mind that can create things from nothing. I got inspiration from living life on planet earth, and I’m alive.

What greater blessing is there than being alive, and being grateful of being alive?

For me, it is to create more. To me, affirming life is to create poetry, photos, art, words, ideas, thoughts, and products that can uplift you and others.

So friend, when in doubt in life, always ask yourself: