You should never moralize. That is just wrong. There is nothing more off putting than people who tell other people how they should live their lives. We are all old enough to operate a computer. We all know right from wrong. We don’t need to hear how we should or shalt live our lives. The only thing worse than moralists are hypocrites.
There is a difference between being honest and speaking your mind. You can be honest with yourself and people you interact with, without telling everybody what you think. Telling people, who don’t ask you, what you think is more arrogant than honest. You are not being dishonest if you think some nasty thoughts about somebody and still act nicely towards them.
If you find yourself biting your tongue to keep yourself from speaking your mind, then you should figure out if the problem is with your speaking or with your mind. If you find yourself getting upset with people and feeling the urge to tell them off regularly, then you should look at your mind. If your mind seems to be adequately empathetic, sympathetic, and understanding of those around you, but you still feel the need to tell them off, then you may reconsider the company you keep.
In trying to be honest with others and yourself, it is often best not to speak your mind, especially when your mind is angry or hurtful. That is speaking your ego. If your mind is generally considerate and compassionate, then speaking your mind should be delightful to those around you. Then, there is no conflict between being honest and speaking your mind.
There is nothing more frightening than honesty. If you let people know what you actually think, there is nothing between you and people’s judgement of you. The ironic part is that if you are honest, and say what you think, people will judge you kindly, with great respect.
The most difficult time to be honest is when you are in your teens. That is when you first learn to be dishonest. As a child you are only honest. As an adult, you mostly lie. As a teenager you are learning to transform yourself from a child into an adult. You are learning how not to be honest. This is a lesson well not learned. When you learn to represent things how they aren’t, you end up fooling yourself. You come to believe that you are something that you are not.
The world is experiencing so much difficulty today because we adults have become so adept at presenting ourselves as something that we are not. We have forgetten what we are. Instead of being who we are, we are vaguely or acutely ashamed of who we are and we mask our true feelings and thoughts in bravado and righteousness. We are disconnected from our natural curiosity, joy and compassion. We prefer to perfect the ego games of making ourselves look good at the expense of others.
If you learn to see the value of honesty, before you learn the skills of dishonesty, you can save the world. If you are brave enough to present yourself to your peers as yourself, then you will grow with integrity and garner respect. If you enter relationships as yourself, you will know when you find love. If you get hurt, you will get hurt, but your integrity will not suffer. If you can stay true to yourself, despite internal and external pressures to be dishonest, you will learn to recognize authentic people. You will soon find yourself in excellent company.
Talking about Zen is like a dog trying to communicate to a human that their house is on fire. Enlightened teachers, from Buddha to present day masters, can only bark at us to alert us to our state of delusion.
We can hear the barking and understand that there is something urgent, but until we see the fire for ourselves, we don’t know what all the barking is about. All we can do is follow the dog. When we see the fire, then we know.
New ideas about how life is add to our confusion. When we are told that there is no past and no future, that we are not separate from the universe, these ideas may replace our old ideas, but they are still just ideas. They interfere with our direct experience.
Once we suspect that there is a fire, that our habitual way of thinking and experiencing the world is contributing to our pain and suffering, it may be more helpful to sit quietly and listen to a dog barking than to study Zen. Arf, arf.
There is no end to our emotions. There is no end to our thinking. Our emotions are reactions to our thinking. Our thinking reacts to our emotions. Sadness doesn’t end. Happiness doesn’t end. Emotions come and go, they don’t stop. When you are feeling sad, there is happiness. When you are feeling happy, there is sadness. Our changing emotions are one tune playing on the same instrument. We think that one kind of tune is better than another. When we are feeling sad, we think we will never be happy. When we are feeling happy, we hope we will never be sad. The music goes on and on. Listen.
To learn to live with all the comings and goings of your emotions, you can think of yourself as something like a crash test dummy. Life basically puts you into a car and slams you into a wall. That’s what you were made for. The crash test dummy is not afraid of the wall, because it’s a dummy. The dummy is awake when it hits the wall. It is filled with sensors to see just how its different parts are affected by the impact. After the crash, the dummy is fine, and ready to go into another wall.
In dealing with your emotions you can think of yourself as an indestructible, sensor filled dummy. You emotions are the wall. As you go through your ups and downs, go with your eyes open. Feel the emotions as they impact you. Know that you will be intact when the emotion passes and ready yourself for the next wall.
The walls will keep coming, and you will keep being fine. If you are aware of your experiences, you will learn something each time you hit a wall. Because you are not a dummy, you will grow with each experience. Your constantly changing emotions provide the rich texture of your life. Accepting each emotion for what it is, will help you flow from experience to experience and not shut down when you sense a wall approaching. Like a crash test dummy, you will be fine. Unlike the crash test dummy, you can go through walls.
If you yearn for inner peace, but do not meditate, then you are in luck. You can find peace by meditating. That thing that you have yearned for, inner peace, is attainable through this very simple method. The method of meditation is simple. You just sit. If you do it regularly, you will find inner peace. If you long for inner peace, but have not tried meditation, you should try it.
Doing regular meditation may be easier in theory than in practice. In theory you just sit. In practice, if you are new to meditation, as soon as you begin to sit, you start coming up with reasons to get up. When you just sit, you notice a big impediment to just sitting, your mind. As soon as you sit with no intention other than to sit, your mind starts to go haywire, revolting against your intention to sit. That is why you add technique to meditation. Technique occupies your mind. To start, you occupy your mind with your breathing and your posture. Sit with a straight back and count your breaths from one to ten. If you start to think about anything other than your counting, go back to counting. That technique should get you through 5 or 10 minutes. If you try to sit for 5 or 10 minutes a day, after a few days, you will want to go longer. When that happens, you have found inner peace.
If you yearn for inner peace and have not tried meditation, you may think meditating is silly. You may feel silly trying to meditate. You may feel pretentious trying something so grand. You may feel ridiculous trying something so simple. You may be afraid somebody will see you being spiritual. You may be afraid it won’t work. You may be afraid it will work. It’s alright to feel a little strange as you try something new, but if you yearn for inner peace, not trying meditation is silly.
If you are feeling pain, whether physical or emotional, meditation can help. They say it works better than morphine and it’s less addictive. If you are drawn to pain, meditation is the perfect antidote. If you are feeling the urge to hurt yourself in any way, use meditation. Meditation can be very painful. If you have a craving for something, that craving is pain. If, instead of giving into the craving, you sit in meditation, you will be sitting with the pain of the craving. As you sit with that pain, your instinct will be to get up and satisfy the craving. Not satisfying the craving will intensify the pain. In meditation you focus on that feeling of pain. Focus intensely on the pain. Breathe, feel the pain, breathe. If you sit long enough, your legs and back may also start to hurt. You can either continue to focus on the pain or focus on your breath. With enough focus on either, the pain will ease. Meditation can replace any addiction. It does not have the intrigue of self-destruction, except that if you meditate enough, you may come to doubt the existence of your self. In that way, it is the ultimate self-destructive practice.
If you do not have an affiliation to pain, but have an aversion to pain, meditation still works to ease pain. If you try to sit in meditation with your emotional pain, you confront your habit of trying to avoid that pain. As you sit with a dignified posture and breathe comfortably, you can focus your attention on the physical feeling of your emotional pain. Emotional pain will express itself somewhere in your body. As you meditate and focus on that sensation, without judging it, willing it to stay or go, or feeding it with your stream of thoughts, the pain will begin to move. It will ease. It will either become bearable or leave entirely. The pain may come back again and again, but if you learn to sit with it, it won’t drive you mad.
Meditating on pain can help you face your pain and transform it. By using your focused attention to feel your pain, you can heal your pain.
Being nice is probably the simplest way to happiness there is. If you make a point of being nice to people and yourself in your thoughts and actions, you will drop your most destructive habits. If you want to learn to think nicely, you start by noticing your negative judgements of people and yourself. As you notice yourself thinking unkind things, you can just remind yourself, that’s not nice. With practice it gets easier. When your thoughts are trained to be nice, then you don’t worry about your actions. Until your thoughts become nice, your kind actions can quarantine your unkind thoughts so they won’t spread to others.
Being nice is very easy with people you don’t know. The difficult part of the practice is with the people who are closest to you. That is where it really counts. That is where acting nice will get in the way of acting out your anger. It will get in the way of complaining. It will get in the way of your selfishness.
Being nice to yourself can be the most difficult. Being nice to yourself can get in the way of any number of your habits. It can get in the way of your eating. It can interfere with your sleeping. It can change the way you exercise. When you work on being nice to yourself in your thoughts, it can change your world.
Being nice is generally easy, but if you don’t make exceptions, it can be a challenge. It’s a nice challenge. It spreads happiness.
If you have no problems, then you would have no use for Zen. If you have problems, Zen offers a simple solution, throw out your mind. Zen then tells you how to throw out your mind. You throw out your mind by sitting in meditation and watching your mind. Zen is simple. The ideas of Zen are simple enough to explain to a five-year-old. Sit still, be nice, experience the world with wonder. That is Zen. It is the simplest solution to all of your problems. Stop thinking. Now.