I was asked to give a talk on why I am so fond of Zen and Tao. (Notice that Zen is not the same thing as Zen Buddhist. I stay neutral concerning belief systems. I love all belief systems that encourage kindness, compassion, for others and self.) Here is the main ideas I embrace.
I have noticed that I make up an awful lot of what “might” happen in the future. Much of it stems from things I see in the media or information given to me by friends. I find it strange that my thought processes so often choose the “disaster ahead” scenario and hardly ever the “Wow this is great” alternate future. After all, since it’s my imagination I get to make up anything I want!
Since I can’t know what’s going to happen next and yet insist on making up scenarios why does it seem that the “things are going to screw up” images seem to dominate? In retrospect there have been a lot of experiences in my life of things I thought were great, some that really sucked, and then lots more that appear neutral. I have this suspicion that I was conditioned into thinking that preparing for the worst is what “adults” do when they are being responsible. Like preparing for the “best” would be something only a child would consider. How strange. (It’s as though I’m constantly building a lifeboat for a sinking ship that doesn’t exist.)
And, from experience, nothing ever, ever, ever turns out the exact way I imagined it anyway. So why tell stories at all except to feel anxious, angry, sad, or in those rare cases happy about some future event that I can’t possibly know? Hmmm. (So I could build a lifeboat but then realize I’m stuck in the desert and would welcome water. I should have built a solar still!)
It seems this is a good argument for ignoring the stories and hanging around the proximity of where our body resides. This is basic Zen and Tao philosophy. Stay in proximity of this bit of time we call now. Which is really more of a series of moments when we are paying attention to where we are instead of living in the made up world of the future or dwelling on the past.
And, even better, I am totally up to facing whatever is happening as long as I am present. Why is that? Because I can’t do anything about what’s in front of me if my brain is focused on the past or future. Here, I can bring all the present resources I have into play. I can actually see what’s happening. No stories. This seems like a good philosophy. And, the proof of that for me is I’m here, having lived through all those imaginary terminal disasters I made up in the past. Sigh.
Watch out for those stories, be amazingly kind to yourself this weekend, and do something extraordinarily fun with someone! Even if the someone is you!