Excerpted from the great book Zen Antics, translated by Thomas Cleary (also in Classics of Buddhism and Zen, Volume Four).
Once when Zen master Seisetsu was seeing to the rebuilding of part of the monastery where he was teaching, a certain wealthy merchant came with a hundred ounces of gold, saying he wanted to donate it for the reconstruction project. Seisetsu took it without a word.
The next day the merchant came back to visit the Zen master. He remarked, “Although what I gave you was not so great an amount, it was an exceedingly costly donation for me. In spite of that, you didn’t say a word of thanks. Why is that?”
Seisetsu hollered, “I am planting your field of blessings; why should I thank you?”
The merchant was very embarrassed. He apologized and thanked the Zen master.
“People walk up the drive to the Ashram in search of Deliverance and then get caught up in Ashram politics and forget what they came for.” –Sri Ramana Maharshi
Mischief is yours.
Sorrow is yours.
But virtue also is yours,
You are the source
Of all purity and all impurity.
No one purifies another.
Never neglect your work
However great her need.
Your work is to discover your work
And then with all your heart
To give yourself to it.
—Dhammapada, The Sayings of the Buddha, Thomas Byrom rendering
(A day in the life, inspired by the use of inversion for illumination. Meant to be humorous—mostly.)
- Go to bed late—that way you can use the snooze button excessively when the alarm jolts you awake, have a rushed meditation, and never feel quite refreshed throughout the day.
- Eat foods that are convenient and tasty, but make you feel uncomfortable, whether they give you congestion, heartburn, gas, or constipation. (Or, bonus, degrade your health long-term!)
- Take the most obvious/congested route to work during peak commute, so you can stew in the impatience and low-grade anger of your fellow commuters.
- Check your phone constantly, that way you can receive small injections of bad energy throughout the day (if checking the news), or you can become numb to the true wonder and beauty of the world, like when checking Instagram to see endless photos of beautiful and wonderful things. Bonus: checking your phone constantly keeps you from having solid blocks of concentration that are foundational to meaningful work!
- Talk shit about others! Nothing drags you down more than criticizing colleagues, friends and family.
- Say yes to everything—projects and work you’re not interested in, so you (seemingly) please the boss; and social events that bore you and keep you from your true interests, so you please your family and acquaintances.
- Watch TV instead of exercising, or even better than TV, spend a lot of time on the Internet. Click on every article that sounds scandalous, critical or gossipy. Go down rabbit holes, and for an extra dose of anger and righteousness, read the comments!
- Stay indoors a lot—nothing keeps you in the same headspace as staying in the house.
- Ignore your “gut” and niggling feelings, and instead squash or cover them with your drug of choice: alcohol, drugs, butterfat, TV, internet, video games, etc.
- Play small, and give up easily. Hew to the limited mind set or agenda delivered to you by your family and upbringing. Don’t go for the thing you really want, like a big career move or Enlightenment. But if you do go for it and experience some opposition or impediments, give up quickly and take it as a sign you were never meant to change.
- Let your mind wander all over the place and particularly indulge in negative emotions, like hatred, anger and sadness. Pretend that negative emotions have more reality and value than love.
© 2019 Sara Weston. Sara is the author of How to Be Happy NOW…Even if Things Aren’t Going Your Way, available on Amazon.com or Amazon UK, CA, FR , IT, ES and DE. A FREE excerpt of the book is available here.
“I hadn’t expected to discuss my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s with [the doctor]. I was hoping to hear some explanation as to why, apart from her memory, my grandmother’s overall health seemed so mysteriously improved. Her lupus, for instance, had all but disappeared from her blood work.
“‘Well, there is a theory,’ he said, ‘that people with Alzheimer’s heal themselves of their diseases. Because they forget they have them.’”
—excerpted from “A Memory Magically Interrupted” heard on the Modern Love podcast