Get some ‘zazen’ into your day today!

To conquer the mind, you must know the soul. To know the soul, you must be silent. To know silence, you must just be.
Just being may appear to be difficult. But it is not. And to keep it simple and silly, just as it sounds, don’t try to be. Just be. In Zen Buddhist practice, there’s this concept called ‘zazen’. It invites the seeker to simply sit, opening the hand of thought__which means drop judgment, let words, actions, events just unfold. A friend who is going through a troubled marriage was advised by her other friend to just be an observer and not be involved emotionally in the actions of her estranged spouse. I believe she was getting the most valuable advice. How can I be an observer when my world is falling apart, you may wonder? What else can you do? By trying to control the uncontrollable__Life__you are subjecting yourself to trauma. The suffering comes from this desire to control. Instead be detached. The essence of detachment lies in being. Not doing. Not becoming. Just being.

Osho says it profoundly, “There is nothing to become. You are already that, it is already the case. Stop running after shadows. Sit silently and be. Sitting silently, doing nothing, the spring comes and the grass grows by itself.” What a beautiful perspective. Try and get some ‘zazen’ into your day today!

Stop becoming and start being

What have we done to our lives?
We have become so mechanized. So robotic. We are trying to constantly ensure our incomes go up, our families are provided for and yet we are not even bothered if we are happy? In fact, our unhappiness has become so much a part of us that we have stopped knowing that we are unhappy. We imagine that running the household, driving the kids to school and back, preparing reports and presentations, taking the annual vacation, IS Life! Is that really so?
Step off this treadmill. For a second. Take a brief moment. Focus on a flower in your neighborhood, in your garden, in a vase in your home. Just find a flower this morning. Look at it intently. Examine every aspect of its creation __ the color, the shape, the texture. Feel its pollen with your fingertips. Smell it. And ask yourself, how often have you stopped, even paused, to look in the direction of this flower? How you have chosen to ignore this flower represents the way you live your Life. You are doing everything else except living, my friend. When you are in front of the mirror, getting ready to rush to work, you have time to examine that pimple on your forehead, the dark circles beneath the eyes, or to certify the quality of your shave. But you don’t have time to look into your own eyes and ask yourself how are you?
As people we are becoming more and more efficient. There’s an App, an application, for everything on our smart-phones. From music to medical tests to running our schedules to buying stuff. Our phones can get us anything and everything we want. Despite all this efficiency, why are we still so lost? What are we searching for? What are we trying to complete in us?  Ask anyone__yourself to begin with__as to what will make them happy, and you would hear people express it differently of course, but most will say that they would like to live a different Life from what they are leading currently. Then why is it that nobody is willing to make that change in the way they live?
Remember: to go back to being who you are really are, you must stop becoming something. Our entire efficiency race is about becoming: successful, rich and, eventually, happy__as if it were some destination. How would your Life be, if you just focus on being happy, being rich, being the way you are __ with WHATEVERyou have? Have you ever tried that? To find your Self, you must stop running this rat race, and make the journey within. Pause. And dive within. Listen to what, Osho, the Master has to tell you this morning: “Constantly remember that you are not here in Life to become a commodity; you are not here to become an utility, that is below dignity; you are not here just to become more and more efficient — you are here to be more and more alive; you are here to be more and more intelligent; you are here to be more and more happy, ecstatically happy.”
 
And that you will surely be, my friend, when you stop becoming and start being! 

Making progress, while just being…

‘Just Being’ does not retard or impair progress. ‘Just Being’ ISprogress.
Many of us see ‘just being’ as inaction. And so imagine that it will breed inertia and make us vegetables. We find logic in this argument and so we feel that staying busy is important. You can be running on a treadmill and you could still be in the same place. Staying busy is just that. It doesn’t get you anywhere. ‘Just Being’, on the other hand, does not mean inaction. It means:
1.     Being in the moment, engaged, mindful. Thoroughly involved. Which is a LOT of action.
2.   Being involved with also DOING what is possible, what is right and doing it well, in that moment, and yet BEING DETACHED from the outcome.
When 1 and 2 are happening simultaneously, where’s the question of passivity or inertia or remaining grounded? You are in flight! You are soaring. Despite the storm, despite the chaos, your sails are filled with grace, energy and momentum!
Vietnamese Buddhist guru Thich Nhat Hanh teaches this so well. He calls ‘Just Being’ non-action, not inaction. “Sometimes if we don’t do anything, we can help more than if we do a lot. We call that non-action. It is like the calm person on a small boat in a storm. That person does not have to do much, just to be himself, and the situation can change,” he says. His prescription for ‘just being’ is mindfulness. He describes it thus: “Mindfulness is our ability to be aware of what is going on both inside us and around us. It is the continuous awareness of our bodies, emotions, and thoughts. Through mindfulness, we avoid harming ourselves and others, and we can work wonders. If we live mindfully in everyday life, walk mindfully, are full of love and caring, then we create a miracle and transform the world into a wonderful place. The object of your mindfulness can be anything. You can look at the sky and breathe in and say, ‘Breathing in, I’m aware of the blue sky.’ So you are mindful of the blue sky. The blue sky becomes the object of your mindfulness. ‘Breathing out, I smile to the blue sky.’ Smiling is another kind of practice. First of all, you recognize the blue sky as existing. And if you continue the practice, you will see that the blue sky is wonderful. It may be that you’ve lived thirty or forty years but you have never seen and touched the blue sky that deeply.”

The Chinese character for mindfulness, nian, (pictured here), reveals its meaning. The upper part of the character means ‘now’ and the lower part means ‘heart’. Literally, the combined character means the act of experiencing the present moment with your heart or ‘Just Being’. Just Being’ connects you to the source of your creation, helps you drop anchor and find bliss in whatever you do, wherever you are!

Get off the “becoming treadmill”, just be!

Stop competing, drop all comparisons, and you will live happily ever after!
We were having tea with a friend who was visiting us with his family after many years. Our friend was schooled at the famous Rishi Valley School, founded by the thinker-philosopher J.Krishnamurti (1895 ~ 1986). It’s a school that spurs the spirit of inquiry in children and lets them enjoy the process of learning than drive them to acquire knowledge that can showcase them as achievers to society. Our friend told us how much he valued the Rishi Valley way and said that his whole Life and career had been blessed by his experience of learning at that school. Naturally, we asked our friend’s children, who were in high school in Doha, Qatar, if they ever wanted to go to Rishi Valley School. Our friend’s daughter answered that question. She said: “I love Rishi Valley and the ambience there. But I don’t think Rishi Valley prepares you for the real world.” Her mother, our friend’s wife, piped in, “Well, schools like Rishi Valley don’t make you street smart.”  
What could have been an intelligent conversation sadly ended there as samosasand dhoklas were served and everyone got distracted in the direction of all the food and tea.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about the observations that were made that afternoon – one by a child and the other by a parent! And I wondered if we really need to be street smart and prepare ourselves for the real world?
Think of what the real world really is: a place where everyone is busy running a rat race, where the spirit of inquiry and learning is stifled very, very early on in Life and people are only keen on their GPAs and placements, where top draw salaries are a means to acquire all material comfort and where innovation and enterprise and sacrificed on the altar of quarterly earnings and wanting to be seen as the number 1 and not necessarily striving to be the best! Competition has become the very basis of Life. No doubt competition, like in sport, brings out the best in a person. But to obsess oneself with competition, being street smart and constantly compare with others can ruin the joy of living. In fact, Krishnamurti has said, “Real learning comes about when the competitive spirit has ceased.” And he has also said, “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” So, in effect, in the so-called real world that we have created today, there is no more learning. We have lost all our learning ability trying to grow our earning potential. And, obviously, at the cost of not employing our intelligence, we have begun to love, and therefore cling to, things and use people, whereas, it should be the other way round!
It is this obsession with comparing with others, with competing with a desire to vanquish others, that has made our world, this real world of ours, such a cold place to live in. Driven by the hunger to be successful you have stopped celebrating your uniqueness. Instead of just being, you are on this ‘becoming treadmill’ – wanting to become someone else or wanting to become like someone else. Running on a treadmill has an inherent pitfall – you keep running harder no doubt but, in the end, you are still at the same place! Comparison with others, being in continuous, endless, competition, breeds ambition. No problem with being ambitious. But when ambition makes you combative, restless and subconsciously violent – where you are fighting continuously with who you are because you are wanting to be someone else – then your inner peace and happiness are destroyed.
Krishnamurti urged us to look at nature. He used to say that the flowers bloom for the joy of blooming; the trees don’t compete with each other, they simply enjoy each other’s presence and growth; the sun rises and sets because it simply has to – there’s no attitude to nature’s magnificence. Osho, the Master, went a step further to clarify: “All that is divine is non-competitive – and your being is divine. So just sort it out. The society has muddled your head; it has taught you the competitive way of Life…when you are non- competitive, only then can you be yourself. This is simple.”

So stop trying to become – something, someone. Just be. Then, whether in the real world or not, whether street smart or not, you will always be happy and at peace with yourself! 

Transition from becoming to being to build a better world

While trying to become someone, devote some attention to being who you are!

The other day I met a cabbie who seemed over-qualified. His English was impeccable and he looked every bit out of place being a cabbie – including the fact that he didn’t know his way around the city! I chatted him up and soon discovered that he was a civil engineer. What was he doing then, driving a cab? He told me that his family wanted him to be an engineer, while he wanted to be an entrepreneur – running a cab service and owning a fleet of cars. He said that having completed his engineering degree to please and placate his family, he had now struck out on his own, driving a cab, so that he could learn the “tricks of the trade” live – and on the job!

My conversation with the cabbie got me thinking.

Haven’t we often been asked what we want to be? And haven’t we asked young teenagers or adults graduating from schools and colleges, what they want to be? Pilot, engineer, doctor, scientist, writer, photographer, actor, journalist, lawyer, we hear these myriad aspirations being voiced. And sure enough, we ourselves in our early, formative years, have talked of being this or that. But never do we hear someone say, I want to be humble, I want to be patient, I want to be understanding, I want to be giving, I want to be loving. In fact, we never do. Despite the fact that, you, me, all of us, are born humble, patient, understanding, generous and loving. To validate this perspective, just look at a child, less than 5 years old, and convince yourself. Have we ever wondered why is it that we stop being who we are, and instead work hard to become someone else? The reason is simple. We relate to and therefore champion the act of becoming more than the state of being. All our lives, and therefore, all our childrens’ lives are concentrated on becoming this or that.

A caring human being is more scarce, more urgently needed in today’s global context than a brilliant student or an awe-inspiring professional. And to be a caring human being, you__and I__just need to be human. Humility, love, generosity, patience and understanding are wired in our creation, naturally. To let those dimensions of our personas to surface, we must stop wanting to becoming something and just be. From becoming to being, if we make the transition, we would have changed our world.


Stop wanting to have, simply be!

There is no method to living intelligently. The key is to live, fully, simply “being”.   
There are two ways you can live. Either you can live “possessing” or you can live “being”. Most of us are the “possessing” kind – we are constantly in search of having this or having that. All our having is about having worldly things. It’s focused on material wealth – money, house, car and such. But when you have all the things, chances are you could still be seeking “something” and feeling “empty”. Your Life is full of things, yet you feel an emptiness, a void. But the one who lives “being” – loving what is, being content with what he or she has, that person, feels inner peace and joy. That person understands himself or herself, the true Self, and is possessed by nothing.
A statue of Diogenes and Alexander
in modern-day Corinth, Greece
There’s a story of a meeting between Diogenes (404 BCE ~ 323 BCE), the Greek philosopher, and Alexander the Great (356 BCE ~ 323 BCE). It is said that Diogenes, in his quest for inner peace, had renounced everything. He was like a “fakir” – possessing nothing, except a bowl for drinking water. Then one day he saw a dog drinking water from the river and threw away even his bowl, saying he didn’t even need it from then on!
Alexander came to meet him one day, when Diogenes was bathing in the sunshine by the riverside, and asked him if he, as an Emperor, could do anything for him.
Diogenes said, “Yes! Please step out of the way of the sunshine that is bathing me. Thank You!”
Alexander asked Diogenes what was the point behind doing whatever he was doing.
Diogenes asked him the same question: “Why are you doing what you are doing – conquering the world?”
Alexander replied: “So that, when I become the world’s ruler, when I have the world at my feet, I can rest by a riverside just like you – in peace”.
Diogenes laughed. He said, “That you can do right away. You don’t need to conquer the world for you to do that. Look, this riverbank is wide enough. You can share it with me. And be peaceful. I find your idea stupid that you want to conquer the world and then rest in peace. Look at me, I have conquered no world and I am at peace. So can you!”
In that nanosecond, Alexander, being the intelligent person that he was, grasped the essence of intelligent living. He said, “I agree. But I have come this far in Life. Now, I can’t go back without conquering the rest of the world.”
At least Alexander had the humility to accept the futility behind all his conquests. And before he died, his “awakening” – thanks to his encounter with Diogenes – led him to tell his ministers that his hands should be kept out of his coffin so that people could see that “Alexander the Great came empty-handed and went empty-handed”.
By interpretation, Diogenes is telling you – and me – too that to be clinging on to possessions, to be possessed by what you have – whether it is knowledge or ego or humility or wealth – is futile. You can be absolutely free when you simply be. You may have nothing worldly, but you will have an aura that can touch and energize everyone around you. That kind of energy comes from within. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “The Kingdom of God is within you”. The power of such a person does not come from things. Those who are driven by things and accumulating – power, position, property, titles – are, logically, powerless without them. But, as Diogenes’s story teaches us, the one who has nothing, commands great respect and has a great power, to even transform the Greatest Emperor!
You and I don’t have to renounce what we have. We don’t have to be another Diogenes. Let us be ourselves. But let us also stop wanting to have more and more. Instead, let us learn to simply be – happy and content with what is. That’s when we too will be soaked in inner peace!

On just Being, Buddhahood and Bliss

Be yourself. Don’t try to become someone else. Drop the urge to “become” and simply “be”. That’s Buddhahood.
                            
Gautama, the Buddha, himself has said this: “Doubt everything. Find your own light.” What this means is that you shouldn’t get carried away by others’ experiences or philosophies. You have to challenge every assumption, question every logic, convince yourself how (your) Life works and accept your own convictions and beliefs.
But this is not the way we have been raised. Everything we do is what we have been “told” to do. There’s very little scope or opportunity to make our own music, pave our own paths and to live our lives as if we were explorers and not followers. Which is why, when you fare badly in academics, you are condemned. I, for example, was thrown out of school and that led to my parents feeling “embarrassed” on my account – their feeling so changed my Life forever. Society’s expectations from us are far removed from the way the Universe works or has planned things for us. According to the Cosmic Design, everything is in its place and everything’s perfect. The Master Plan has no flaws. Society – family, friends, community – says, however, you are not good enough. You must be this way or that way or like him or her. If you succumb to this pressure, you give up being who you actually are. You get trapped in the “becoming game” – wanting to become something that you are either not capable of or interested in becoming – instead of simply being. If you accept who you are, if you stop wanting to become (something, someone) and simply be, that’s Buddhahood.
This is not at all complicated. Simply ask yourself what gives you joy and go do it. You can keep your job, do whatever else you have to do to  discharge your “worldly” responsibilities, and still if you can devote some time to do what you love doing, you have made progress. Doing this, now that you have experienced inner joy, keeping doing more of that stuff. When you do more and more, and then eventually do only that which gives you joy, then you are yourself! You are not trying anymore to become someone else for society’s sake, for family’s sake or for money’s sake. When you live the Life that you enjoy living, that’s Buddhahood.
The Lotus Sutra is the most profound scripture in Mahayana Buddhism. And the defining doctrine in it is the belief that all people can reach an enlightened state. The key to this enlightenment, as I have learnt, is to drop all notions that your Life is imperfect and that you have to do something, become someone else, to make it perfect. Just accept your Life the way it is, accept yourself the way you are, don’t judge, don’t reject, don’t condemn, don’t try to become. Experience everything. Then choose what you love doing. And then keep doing that. Just being yourself.
In your acceptance of your Life the way it is and of yourself the way you are lies you Buddhahood – and your bliss!