What Life Might Look Like, Were We Willing
Yup. Here we are. Nope. Not weekly. I got the idea that I needed to write a new book, sort of a guide I could promote to clients, and then I decided that I could write chunkettes of it as ITC articles. So, here's the first one.
We're well. Life is full and rich, full of great interactions and projects. Lots of clients, lots of Bodywork to do, and a sufficiency of downtime too. Dar is heading into another report card time, so send her a e-mail and remind her to have fun with it!
Lastly, I got an e-mail from a tech service I use, and they included the following list of error pages, from Japan. Reading them led me to write!
Here are 14 actual error messages seen on the computer screens in Japan, where some are written in Haiku. Aren't these better than "your computer has performed an illegal operation"?
1. The Web site you seek cannot be located, but countless more exist.
2. Chaos reigns within. Reflect, repent, and reboot. Order shall return.
3. Program aborting: Close all that you have worked on. You ask far too much.
4. Windows NT crashed. I am the Blue Screen of Death. No one hears your screams.
5. Yesterday it worked. Today it is not working. Windows is like that.
6. Your file was so big. It might be very useful. But now it is gone.
7. Stay the patient course. Of little worth is your ire.
8. The network is down. A crash reduces your expensive computer to a simple stone.
9. Three things are certain: Death, taxes and lost data. Guess which has occurred?
10. You step in the stream, but the water has moved on. This page is not here.
11. Out of memory. We wish to hold the whole sky, but we never will.
12. Having been erased, the document you're seeking must now be retyped.
13. Serious error. All shortcuts have disappeared.
14. Screen. Mind. Both are blank.
This book is the result of a client request - that I write a small book of essays reminding clients of the salient points of my understanding of living the enlightened life. This book consists of ideas and concepts I find essential to anyone seeking a rich and full life. The ideas are interconnected seeds - the order of the topics in the book is arbitrary rather than sequential. You'll find that ideas circle and loop around. I encourage you to read each thought as a whole unto itself, and also as a part of a larger picture.
Clients come in for therapy because something (or several somethings) isn't working. Yet, on an entirely different level (and the point of this book) - the real issue is not what isn't working. The real issue is that they don't understand that solving their issue requires that they behave differently.
There is an internal battle going on in each of us, between the seductive siren song of staying stuck in the "way I've always done life" and the orderly discipline of doing things in another way.
Most people waste their lives doing everything they can think of to get others to do things differently. There is a considerable emotional investment in this effort. (Let me be clear about which effort we are talking about: the effort of trying to get the world to cooperate in making you happy. Now, "the world" can be a boss, or a partner, one's parents or kids, friends or the person serving you a double fat free latte.)
The first step toward wisdom is to understand that you can't manipulate others or "the world" to make you happy.
In a sense, all that I ever "teach" clients (and all I ever remind myself) is this: I am responsible for me, and I am responsible for how I choose to approach my life. Nothing else is "going on." This is such a simple point that it flies directly over the head of 95% of the population.
You'll discover that I love telling stories. Here's the first:
I watched this misunderstanding (which I suppose you could call the "What Do You Mean I Have to Fix Me?" game) surface and resurface at a Zazen Workshop Dar and I attended a couple of weeks ago. The Sensei (teacher) was a bubbly woman, full of the simplicity of a Zen focus.
In a sense, Zazen, because in the end there is nothing to understand. There is just being fully present in this moment... and this moment... and this moment. (Sort of the point of this book...)
The Sensei said Zen is not a religion, nor a philosophy nor a therapy. A guy raised his hand. He sighed, deeply. He said, "I am a practicing Catholic, a philosopher and a psychotherapist. You're asking me to give up everything I believe." (Well, no, she wasn't.) He expressed his discomfort and sadness over his life, trotted out his belief system, sighed and said, in effect, "Here's what I know. It doesn't cut it for me any more, I find no satisfaction in it, but I'll be damned if I'll give it up." Sensei smiled and said, "Just listen, then just sit and breathe."
Another woman kept trying to add New Age concepts and bells and whistles to the Zazen. She wanted candles, she wanted music and waterfalls, and she really wanted visions. Sitting and staring at a wall wasn't chargy enough, she said. Always seeking, never finding. Sensei smiled and said, "Your mind is too busy on other things. Just sit, stare at the wall and breathe."
I really am convinced that the key to figuring yourself out is finding a way to remind yourself "how life is." My plan is to encourage you to look into yourself, to slow down, to shut up and to relax a bit. You'll find ideas for changing your focus, for letting go of the need to be other than whom you are, and especially ideas for letting go of tilting against the world. Much of the drama goes away when I simply settle in for the ride, stay present in the moment and accept responsibility for my drama (or lack of it... sometimes, the more elegant choice.)
In the end, there is only one way out. Here it is, in short form:
Everything is a figment of your imagination. Nothing is happening to you. Life just is. Now, get over yourself! And have a breath!
 Zen means to understand the essence of the universe; za, to sit without moving, like a mountain. Zen is neither a theory nor an idea; it is not an intellectual concept. It is a practice: correct sitting. Zazen practice brings about an interior revolution: a deep wisdom whose essence is unattainable through logical thought alone.)