- If it doesn’t work, don’t do it!
- Find Your Calling
- Be Where You Are
- Change Happens Faster if You Lie to Yourself
- The Finger That Points…
- Take no credit. Cast no blame. Seek to empower others. Enjoy life.
- Always Tell the Truth, as You Know It
- One Thing at a Time
- Take Nothing for Granted
- Wait Patiently
- Seek solutions, without placing blame
- There are no Rules
Synopsis: Take no credit. Cast no blame. Seek to empower others. Enjoy life. You have to do the first three to get the fourth.
Want more great writing designed to help YOU to shift your behaviour? Check out Wayne’s books!
Free Kindle Books August 11–13!
This Endless Moment 2nd. edition,
Living Life in Growing Orbits,
The. Best. Relationship. Ever.
Find Your Perfect Partner and
will all be free on the Amazon Kindle Store next weekend. I’ll remind you next week!
It might seem, at first glance, that the above four points are somewhat unrelated.
You might think it’s sort of a “dog’s breakfast” kind of thing — good old Wayne is shoving a bunch of stuff into a single topic. But that’s not how I see it.
At one level, the first three items lead to the last one. At another level, reminding ourselves to do the latter, while seemingly “odd,” is best done when we have stepped out of the drama that forgetting the first three creates.
So, anyway, let’s work backwards!
Here comes a new Zen story I just invented.
The student asks the Master, “How do I find enlightenment?” The Master replies, “Enjoy Life.” The student goes away, and begins to try to enjoy things.
Each night he returns to the Master and dutifully reports on the things he’d enjoyed. But the Master finds some other thing he had disliked and complained about. So the student would turn his attention to the new thing, only to be reminded of another dislike or complaint.
But no soap; the Master just points out his complaints.
So the student says, “Ah! I get it! I need to stop complaining.”
The Master kicks the student in the shin, and says, “When did you feel that kick?” The student is puzzled, and limps away.
That evening, the Master says, “How are you enjoying your search for enlightenment?” The student replies, “I think I am beginning to get it, Master. I’m sure I will enjoy the feeling of enlightenment some day, when I get there.”
At this, the Master kicks his other shin.
The Master says, “And perhaps some day soon you will feel that kick, too.”
The student, breathing deeply, rubs his shins, and is enlightened.
There is a deep paradox to the injunction “enjoy life.”
For many, “enjoyment” comes from complaining about how rotten life is treating them. Endless are the complaints, many of which revolve around the crappy application of our other three points.
Or, there is the litany, “I’ll be happy when such and such happens.” And contained within the whole thing is the dumb concept that the only way to enjoy life is to be happy. (And I’m not. Yet. But someday. Maybe.)
The student’s first error was expecting that, in order to enjoy life, one has to enjoy “things.” This is common; most people think that life itself is made up of an endless stream of things, relationships and objects.
The problem with this approach is expressed in the Plate Spinner who used to appear on The Ed Sullivan Show.
The “novelty” of the plate spinner’s act is how close the plates come to falling. We watch the spinner racing back and forth; somehow, through frantic effort, he manages to keep the plates aloft. But we all know that eventually there will be too many plates spinning and one will crash.
Thus it is with enjoying “things,” despite the clear instruction to enjoy life.
By focusing his attention on an object, the student became fixated on a thing. He then, with little success, tried to enjoy it. The problem is, all of the other things that were also happening became distractions or annoyances. And those things got in the way of enjoying the original thing.
His level of enjoyment of the one thing was in direct proportion to his dislike of everything else. Much like the plate spinner, he’d be enjoying something, notice his annoyance, and race to the other thing he was annoying himself over. He’d begin to enjoy (spin) that, only to notice he was ignoring or annoying himself over something else.
His first realization was:
You can’t enjoy things if you wish to enjoy life.
So, he stopped the complaining and “enjoying” game, and next focussed on how enjoyable life would be if he ever reached enlightenment.
This is the other error. Thinking that enjoying life only comes later, when some task or series of tasks is complete. The flaw is that goals have a way of always being just out of reach, and time has a way of passing us by.
We end up staying stuck while waiting for “things (there’s that word again!) to change.”
The kick to his shin, like everything that occurs, happened in the “now.” The moment of enlightenment comes when we realize that:
The only way to enjoy life is to be present in the “now.”
If I choose to see the world, see my life, as a moment-by-moment unfolding, then I can simplify the process of “enlightenment” by focusing, not on the thing(s) in front of me, but on interacting with the moment.
The truth of it is, there is only this moment, and then the next one. I have my feelings in the present. I don’t feel in the future or the past, no matter what it seems like. If I’m making myself miserable over a past event, I am doing that in this moment, so it is a current experience of a remembered past.
This is not splitting hairs.
If I choose to step into this moment, (Darbella wrote about this here (and following) — in her review of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.) then all there is, is this moment, and I can choose how I relate to it.
Which brings us to our other points.
Take no credit. In most Zen tales, enlightenment comes in a flash of, wait for it, in-sight. Boom, I’m aware–both of me and of “life.” Not in a predictable way. The experience simply “is.” No one can take credit for this process.
The problem with wanting credit is that you end up living your life screaming, “See! Me, me, me! Aren’t I special! I’m the smartest! See, I told you so!” Doing so becomes “it,” or “all that there is.”
Mostly, elegant living is about simple presence and noticing the moment without trying to “shift” it. Tying yourself in knots trying to get others to notice who and where you are gets you nowhere.
Cast no blame. If I think I am a poor, helpless victim of either fate or of others, I am screwed, blued and tattooed, and I move to a place of helpless inaction.
Actually, I am where I am, dancing the dance I am dancing, by choice. I’m here because I brought myself to this dance. If I don’t like the dance, it’s not the fault of the other dancers and it’s not the fault of the orchestra. It’s not even my fault, as I know that the simple solution is to find another orchestra, find another dance.
Letting go of blaming (either others or ourselves) is a difficult choice; one that it is made moment-by-moment. But when we truly get this, we avoid the need for a kick in the shins!
Empower others. This is the “magic” of the Zen koan. The Master did not “get it” for the student. He provided an experience so that the student could get it for himself. In other words, the Master concocted an empowering experience and left the resolution to the student.
Had the kick not worked, the Master would have presented another experience. And another.
If I truly seek to help empower others, I have to let go of the outcome, and let the other person do the heavy lifting. I can provide an experience and a “field” for the other to bounce off of, but I must never think I’m going to “fix” the other person. I can’t “get it” for another person; nor can I make someone “get it.” I can’t demand that they get it.
And for sure, I can’t demand that another person “get” what I get, the way I get it. Because they aren’t me and I’m not them.
This week, look at the way you are living life. Think about the stories you tell yourself to avoid enjoying life. We don’t have to like the situations we face (no one likes death, destruction, poverty, disease) but we can certainly learn to enjoy being alive, enjoy each of our feelings, and enjoy the gift we have been given. Our days are numbered. Make them memorable.