Posts Tagged ‘samsara’

On balance

August 22nd, 2007    -    7 Comments


I gave a talk last week about Work-Life Balance at a corporate retreat. Truth be told, it was my first. The audience was politely attentive. Going in, I wasn’t sure that there was much to say about the topic. Going out, I don’t feel that much different. Perhaps you can illuminate the way better than I can.

You see, our lives are never out of balance. They can’t be out of balance. Where are the mountains toppling? Where is the sun sliding out of the sky? Of course we think our lives are out of balance nearly all the time. We think that way except for the split second every other year in which we feel–ahhhh!– okay.

So this work-life imbalance that we give such credence to is nothing other than the nature of human existence. It is what the Buddha termed in his First Noble Truth as “suffering.” Life is suffering. The word he used was dukkha, or unfulfillment.

Yes, we’re unfulfilled. Can’t be otherwise as long as we operate our lives in separation, in ignorance of reality. By that I mean operating from the egocentric mind, the dualistic mind, the mind of me that repeats over and over in hysterical crescendo “You, you over there! You’re driving me crazy! My job is driving me crazy! My kids are driving me crazy! My spouse is driving me crazy! And you, yes you, dear reader out there in readerland, you’re driving me crazy! All of you are asking too much of me!”

Because so little can be honestly said about how to fix this, this little syndrome that is nothing other than the eternal human condition, I boiled it all down to three little rules. Three rules to restore the balance you think you’ve lost.

3 Rules to Life Balance

1. There is no right way to do anything, only a right now way. Wherever we are, we think of someplace else. I should be over there. No, I should be back here. Here, there, here, there. What is the right thing to do? That kind of thinking is what really makes your head spin. Stop that. Be where you are. When you’re at work, be at work. When you’re at home, be at home. When driving, drive; eating, eat; sleeping, sleep. Get out of your head and tell me, right now, where’s the problem?

2. You have all the time you need for what’s important to you. What is most important? Whatever is right in front of you. Why? Because that’s the only thing that exists! In truth, you already have ample time for what is important to you. It just might surprise you to see what that is. What do you keep putting in front of yourself? Food? Drink? Computer? The average adult spends 28 hours a week watching TV. The average woman spends 8 years of her life shopping. These probably aren’t things that you would consciously set as your priorities, so consciously set your real priorities. And when you do, you’ll see that Rule 3 proves itself.

3. How you do anything is how you do everything. I borrow this from writer/teacher Cheri Huber, who paraphrased my main man Dogen: “If you find one thing wearisome, you will find everything wearisome.” Pay attention, be present, cultivate focus in one facet of your life and you will enjoy it in all facets of your life. Because an attentive person is an attentive person! A happy person is a happy person! A balanced person is a balanced person!

So strap on your shoes and dance.

I can only hope that I have less to say on this topic in the future.

Words fail

August 16th, 2007    -    3 Comments

I can’t imagine. I won’t wonder. I don’t have to make up a thing.

Whole

July 21st, 2007    -    3 Comments

The sound you hear for the next nine days is the sound of my silence.

Take very good care of yourselves.

With love I leave you,
Maezen

Photo courtesy of the Great Plumbing Excavation of Summer 2007.

Leaking away

June 27th, 2007    -    5 Comments


The sound you hear is the sound of my level head drip, drip, dripping away. It has puddled in a spreading pool on the patio. It is seeping up from underneath the parquet floor. It has muddled into the unmistakable morass of a household catastrophe. It shouts SLAB LEAK.

Two little words, and with it, walls crumble.

For those of you with the incredible good fortune to have a life other than mine, this means that when the house was built, they put galvanized steel plumbing pipes into the concrete foundation. A good recipe for ruining my day sixty years later.

I am staring into the undernethers of a total household re-plumbing job, and I am doing it alone.

It started months ago as an inch-wide water stain in the corner of the dining room. No big deal. I moved the furniture to cover it up. No big deal. Then it spread into a creeping shape the size of Afghanistan. No big deal. Then it started to seep out from the foundation and lounge all day and night in a wet spot on the patio. No big deal. Then the plumber came and told me to sell my firstborn. No big deal. Then he said it would take five days to fix and wouldn’t include repairing the gashes in the walls or bathroom tile. No big deal. Then I remembered relatives are coming to visit next week.

No big deal, my husband says. It can wait. He says this from a secured, undisclosed, undisturbed location out of town. The relatives coming are his.

The sound you hear is the sound of my dying hope of rescue, my fleeting wish for a different ending, my sweet dream of salvation, leaking away. I’m calling the plumber and getting started today.

Sit down

June 22nd, 2007    -    9 Comments


You might have to sit down for this. I’m going to take up the question I’m asked most.

How do I teach my child to meditate?

You might have to sit down because of the question I’m asked least.

How do I meditate?

Everywhere I look I see people – well-meaning, helpful, good-hearted people – trying to get kids to be still, be quiet, slow down and pay attention. What a noble and mostly, lost cause. Still, it’s got to be worth the effort, particularly in light of how far we’ve let things get out of hand. Another day of TV, another night of TV, another video game, another trip to the electronics superstore, another this, another that. Our kids are disordered, addicted, adrift. We turn our backs for what seems like a minute and a whole generation is lost.

So I have to wonder. When people ask how to teach their children to meditate, are they really asking, “How do I get my child to stop bothering me?” If so, then it’s easy. We already know how to do it, and we do it far too much already.

If the question really is, “How do I teach my child to meditate?” then the answer is easier still.

Sit down for this. Just sit down.

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