When we find our life unpleasant or unfulfilling, we try to escape the unpleasantness by various subtle escape mechanisms. In such attempts we are dealing with our lives as if there’s me and then there’s life outside me. As long as we approach our lives in this way we will bend all of our efforts to finding something or somebody else to handle our lives for us. We may look for a lover, a teacher, a religion, a center — something, or somebody, somewhere, to handle our difficulties for us. As long as we see our lives in this dualistic fashion we fool ourselves and believe that we need not pay any price for a realized life.
Charlotte Joko Beck, Everyday Zen
When the shoe fits, the foot is forgotten,
When the belt fits, the belly is forgotten,
When the heart is right
“For” and “against” are forgotten.
No drives, no compulsions,
No needs, no attractions:
Then your affairs are under control.
You are a free person.
Easy is right. Begin right
And you are easy.
Continue easy and you are right.
The right way to go easy
Is to forget the right way
And forget that the going is easy.
Chuang Tzu, 4th Century BC, In the Dark Before Dawn, (trans. Thomas Merton)
We cling to our own point of view, as if everything depended on it.
Yet our views have no permanence;
like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.
Chuang Tzu, 4th century BC
Whatever assumptions you have about yourself, no matter how reasonable they might be, they are still a creation in the present. By believing in them, by thinking and holding to them, you’re continually creating yourself as a personality.
Awakeness is not a creation.
It’s the immanent act of attention in the present.
Ajahn Sumedho, The Problem with Personality
The sun goes ’round, the moon goes ’round, the tides and seasons go ’round, people are born and die, and when are we finished?
If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die.
Sabbath dissolves the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.
Wayne Muller. Sabbath, Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest
It is good to tune into the energy of each season and live in harmony with it. In autumn we move from the expansive nature of summer to a more internal, introspective focus, setting limits, conserving and harvesting. A good time to let go of the unrealistic demands we place on ourselves.
There is a Japanese saying: The elbow does not bend outward.
It is a smart saying. The freedom of the elbow, the wonderfulness of the elbow, is precisely because of its limitations. This is our awakened attitude. We are free to be completely human. We are not free to be aliens or cartoon creatures.
We are free to be ourselves, with all of our imperfections and bruises.
Jason Shulman, The Instruction Manual for Receiving God