We are like trees, with our roots grounding us in mindfulness.
– Zen saying
On December 21, 2010 I wrote a post referencing John Harris’s prediction for a nasty 2011 summer:
I tend to agree with Mr. John Harris of the Guardian UK as he predicts more civil unrest as austerity takes hold in Europe and mass unemployment persists here in the United States. People will be at the breaking point. His advice….? Even if the snow stops, stock up on supplies and brick yourself in.
So, what do we find on June 1, 2011? The financial markets are tanking. QE2 will end on June 30th. The jobs report for May 2011 was woefully anemic. Housing values keep plunging. Wealthy Republican-Libertarian ideologues are trying to strip workers of collective bargaining rights, privatize public education, eliminate Medicare, and essentially destroy the middle class and working classes. Inflation has taken hold rearing its head with rising oil and gas prices. The weather has been extreme and lives upended with multiple disasters.
What we are witnessing is a paradigm shift. The old ways are simply not working anymore. There are plenty of political, economic, environmental, and cultural reasons why we have arrived at this juncture. It is useful to know why, but whether we understand the reasons why or not, what is more useful is KNOWING we are in the middle of a major paradigm shift and KNOWING each person needs to adapt, change, and embrace their own power.
This KNOWING, this KNOWLEDGE, is useless unless we can act upon it. We cannot be like a deer in the headlights of global change. OMG it’s coming. OMG it’s here. OMG what do I do? When we combine KNOWLEDGE and ABILITY and ACTION – we get results. This is about as far from the BS touted in the best selling book, The Secret, as you can get. You cannot wish for things to happen and magically they happen. That is simply delusional thinking, otherwise called magical thinking. You need to set goals, lay out a plan, determine what’s what, and apply yourself. It is important to be committed BUT also flexible. If something does not work, bag it. Revise your plan. In Zen, there are a myriad of ways within the Way.
Contemplate this: Power is the ability to influence change. If we want change, we must ask ourselves: what can we do for our betterment? How do we apply our abilities to affect change?
Here is my own revised in-progress new path for change & well-being. It may be useful for you. If not, bag it! Create your own list.
Step One: Release all ideology – let yourself see.
Step Two: Eliminate distractions; dial down the noise so you can think.
Step Three: Determine what is really important to you (health, wealth, and happiness is too vague; try, eating healthier, doing work that is enjoyable AND satisfying).
Step Four: Stop trying to impress others – please your inner, higher Self
Step Five: Determine how you will achieve Step Three.
Step Six: Live your life as an authentic being.
Step Seven: Be creative and not destructive.
Step Eight: If you are angry about your life circumstances, start changing your self (from the inside out) and accept that you cannot change OR control others.
Happiness runs in a circular motion, so there is no starting point or ending point. All eight steps are points on the circle of life and are interchangeable. Good luck!
The most important point is to accept yourself and stand on your own two feet.
– Shunryu Suzuki
Chill out from the days BS and listen to Alan Watts talk on Buddhism;
Wu-wei is non-forcing; knowing when to act, and knowing when not to act. Tao’s concepts of wu wei, is sometimes translated as non-forcing, non-doing or non-action. It is a kind of going with the flow concept that is characterized by great ease and mindfulness where with no effort we are able to respond perfectly to whatever situations arise (easier said than done).
One of the great illusions of life is trying to control that which cannot be controlled; force results where our ego insists on having its way; seeking certitude in an uncertain world. Thus dogmatic thought and actions arise to give us the illusion of certainty. Religion and politics in particular are powerful deceptive forces because they mask the illusion of certainty. Absolutism* causes people to force others to do as they say and and how they believe and cleave to the illusion that there is one truth and all others are invalid, or worse, inferior, perverse, or profane. This is what causes conflict. All things are conditioned by transience.
Thus early Buddhism declares that in this world there is nothing that is fixed and permanent. Every thing is subject to change and alteration. “Decay is inherent in all component things,” declared the Buddha and his followers accepted that existence was a flux, and a continuous becoming.
Sources: About.com/Taoism & Jade Dragon http://www.jadedragon.com/archives/june98/tao.html/ and The Buddhist Concept of Impermanence at http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma8/imperm.html// Wikipedia
* Absolute truth: the contention that in a particular domain of thought, all statements in that domain are either absolutely true or absolutely false.
If this seems too esoteric, it really is not. Think about it. How we think, how we engage others, and how we go about our life largely determines our state of being.
1. Right View. The right way to think about life is to see the world through the eyes of the Buddha–with wisdom and compassion.
2. Right Thought. We are what we think. Clear and kind thoughts build good, strong characters.
3. Right Speech. By speaking kind and helpful words, we are respected and trusted by everyone.
4. Right Conduct. No matter what we say, others know us from the way we behave. Before we criticize others, we should first see what we do ourselves.
5. Right Livelihood. This means choosing a job that does not hurt others. The Buddha said, “Do not earn your living by harming others. Do not seek happiness by making others unhappy.”
6. Right Effort. A worthwhile life means doing our best at all times and having good will toward others. This also means not wasting effort on things that harm ourselves and others.
7. Right Mindfulness. This means being aware of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
8. Right Concentration. Focus on one thought or object at a time. By doing this, we can be quiet and attain true peace of mind.
Following the Noble Eightfold Path can be compared to cultivating a garden, but in Buddhism one cultivates one’s wisdom. The mind is the ground and thoughts are seeds. Deeds are ways one cares for the garden. Our faults are weeds. Pulling them out is like weeding a garden. The harvest is real and lasting happiness.