“The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now.”
Having lived with many great dogs (and a couple of cats), I just orded this book by Eckhart Tolle. The few pages I can see on the Amazon preview look great. It looks to be more about “mindfulness” and “spirituality” than “religion,” which suits me well. I’m looking forward to it.
For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated. Over time I came to understand phrases like, “When working, just work.”
This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.
“To complain is (your) nonacceptance of what is. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in power. So change the situation by taking action or speaking out. Leave the situation or accept it; all else is madness.
If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options:
- Remove yourself from the situation
- Change it
- Accept it totally
If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity.”
~ Eckhart Tolle, The Power Of Now (slightly edited by me)
There are many nice cartoons/illustrations in Eckhart Tolle’s book Guardians of Being: Spiritual Teachings from Our Dogs and Cats, and this “Shtop Thinking” cartoon is one of my current favorites. (The book is a collaborative effort between Mr. Tolle and Patrick McDonnell, artist/illustrator/cartoonist who may be most well known for his “Mutts” cartoons.)
When you hear mindfulness people say something like, “Life is like a dream,” one thing they mean is that more than 99.99% of the stuff going on in our minds are thoughts about the past and the future. (Past happiness or regrets, and future hopes and concerns.) Because the only thing that’s real in the present moment is what’s actually happening in *only this moment*, anything that’s outside of this moment is in a strict sense no longer real.
Along this line of thinking I like Eckhart Tolle’s two quotes, “The present moment is all you ever have” — you know that to be true for sure if you’ve ever lost consciousness, not knowing if you’d ever open your eyes again — and, “The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now.”
“Live in the now.” From a favorite book by Eckhart Tolle, Guardians of Being.
“Are you stressed? Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.’”
I like to listen to audiobooks when I drive around the country, and on my last drive back and forth to New Mexico I listened to the Pema Chodron audiobook, When Pain is the Doorway.
At some point in the book she talks about the storylines that constantly run around in our heads. I can’t remember if she was talking about a specific painful experience or just about storylines in general, but when I got to my hotel I made these notes about what she said: “Go beneath the story ... that takes a while, and meditation is the tool for that, to let go of inner dialog and come back to the direct experience.”
That reminded me of something else I read in another book, which is probably Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. In that book (or whatever other book I’m remembering), the author said that 99.99999% of everything in life is a dream, because everything you are thinking about at this moment has either happened in the past, or it’s something that you want to happen in the future (or fear will happen in the future). The only thing that is not a dream is what’s really happening in the present moment, and of course the present moment lasts for only an instant.
If you haven’t experienced it already, once you really experience “the present moment” you’ll find that the last paragraph is correct. (As an anti-pattern of this, earlier this morning I was shaving and thought, “Oh, I should post that story I read a little while ago on Facebook. So and so would like that.” If you are ever thinking like that, you are clearly not in the present moment.)