I had an interesting insight this morning. I woke up with the wicked vertigo back… I moved my neck the wrong way in exercise class… And I didn’t experience the despair, and the urgent desire to fix it. Or will it away. I observed it, and the secondary symptoms that go with it.
I live a goal-less life.
I don’t get frustrated, I don’t get excited, I don’t push, I don’t force, I don’t rush. I don’t do things for a reason either.
I do what I do. Some are creative. Some are response. Some are maintenance of stuff. I read, I cook, I try to move my body, I reflect a lot. I notice the birds. I notice the trees. It’s very Zen.
And I noticed that this way of living, beautiful, is the result of me listening to a dude who is headstrong, who is goal driven, stressed a lot, not where he wants to be, and teaches to be forceful, and intentional, and who wants more.
Wanting more, better, or different seems like an effective way to be, but it isn’t.
It is tension.
Wanting doesn’t get anything done, it is, instead, the source of constant tension. Dissatisfaction. Forcing.
There is something that moves you, but it’s not wanting. Wanting is all mind. And counter to all teachings: the mind doesn’t get things done. It is actually a hindrance. It creates campaigns, yes, but most of those campaigns are putting the cart in front of the horse… so they have no lasting results.
So what is it that moves you? And where does it live?
I can only share my own experience, because obviously I don’t know.
It’s inner drive. It operates near your center…around your waist height. It may be in harmony and it may be counter to what the mind wants. But it will be, more or less, in harmony with what the soul wants. The divine spark in you.
So what does the soul want?
The soul wants you to be all you can be. Do things that makes you all you can be. And not do things that keep you the same, or be who you is less than all you can be.
One of my students is struggling with tearing herself away from the ordinary ways of her family and her role as the “mom” in it. The mom who cleans up the messes, who is cheerful listener and solves all the problems.
Who has no space and no right to be a person, to do her own thing, have her own space and privacy.
I shied away from living in that hubbub all my life… so I had little knowledge.
I never had to cross the Rubicon myself at home… But was once involved with a group of people who met in a coffee shop every night, and drank and talked… There was a moment when I felt my life, my control slip away from me… and I called the shot: never went down again.
You need to examine your life and see what and who controls it… You’ll find several forces. The need to make a living… it’s a force. Need.
The need to look good, be respected, need for companionship, etc.
And then the wants…
And then the guilt…
What they never tell you in Zen is that until you do, you can’t just chop wood and carry water, and be happy.
It seems that it takes a strong core to know who you are and tell the difference between you and the wants, you and the needs.
It only comes with reflection.
There is no “yes” in it, or not much… It is defined, by my experience, by its boundary, what and who you are not.
I guess the reason I can use Tai’s teachings so effectively, because I know who I am not, what I am not, so his questions don’t sound to me like the right questions… they sound to me like the questions that are forceful and misery maker… so I don’t even ponder his questions.
What I pay attention to is what comes up for me while I have him distinguish patterns and principles… I ponder those.
And the simple pondering seems to move me closer and closer to the strait and narrow… where one can be joyful, and happy, just chopping wood and carrying water, while life, business, money, health, relationships move in the right direction, seemingly without any input from me.
PS: It is the year of my 50th high school reunion. One teacher is still alive, 83 years old. Three students dead. The rest will be there… I won’t. Can’t… don’t ask.
Because of this a lot of long forgotten classmates from high school and from University show up in different forums.
One of them, it seems, is an avid photographer.
She illustrates the kind of awareness you need to be able to live in a Zen way: noticing, appreciating.
Here are a few pictures that illustrate that awareness: seeing…
Until you can see, you are in your head… or you don’t have enough foundation to see patterns.
What you want to notice is that these are things you don’t notice… you don’t appreciate… you want what you want and this isn’t it. This is your life… And then you ask: is this all there is? hah.
Another thing about this walk down memory lane is this: everyone walks their own path. Humans stuck together and that is what made them human, tens of thousands of years ago. But there is sticking together where it helps growing synergistically, and then there is sticking together where it keeps you in the chicken coop… because being up to something, wanting to do what only you can do, being all you can be is not interesting for the majority of people. Why? Because they can’t see anything worth caring about. Like growth.
Or your growth, for that matter. It is a threat to their lifestyle.