Sledgehammer's Cycles

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Sitting quietly, doing nothing

Sitting quietly, doing nothing
Spring comes and the grass grows all by itself
- Zen saying

Zen Buddhism is interestingly different from the Christian devotion.  The point is to challenge the mind with questions (called koans) that are right-brained, not left-brained.  The assumption at the core of Zen is that you cannot reason yourself into Heaven.*  Not a bad assumption, really.

The challenge of the koan is to cause the right-brain to break through to a spontaneous moment of enlightenment.  Perhaps the nearest Christian analogy is Saul's moment of realization on that road, so many years ago.  He didn't reason himself into that flash of understanding, he realized it.

Lots of folks are pretty tightly wrapped right now about the election, with justification.  But if you vote, and get those you know to vote with you, you've done what you can.  Your left-brain obligation is paid in full.  All that remains in driving yourself crazy dwelling on something entirely beyond your control.  As it turns out, Humans are pretty good at that.

Zen in general, and today's koan in particular is aimed precisely at this tendency to go nuts:
What is this saying telling us? It is simply pointing out to us the futility of fretting, worrying and agonising over something which we have no control over or in which we can do nothing to change its outcome. We humans are very good at bringing sufferings upon ourselves.  We are master in turning problems into worries and anxieties and allowing them to fester inside us. We are amateurs, poor amateurs, at that, in letting go of things.
We'll know in a couple days.  Do what you can, do what you should, and then sit quietly.  Do nothing.  Spring will come and the grass will indeed grow entirely on its own.  That grass has a lot of wisdom, for those who will listen.

* OK, "heaven" is not a Zen concept.  Work with me here.

9 comments:

Old NFO said...

Good point BP, thanks! We DO need to unwind from all the hype... ;-)

armedlaughing said...

AMEN!, or
MU, or
MEH

I guess we should choose one.
(or not)

gfa

Ken said...

What is this saying telling us? It is simply pointing out to us the futility of fretting, worrying and agonising over something which we have no control over or in which we can do nothing to change its outcome.

Luke (my favorite of the Gospels) 12:25, Matthew 6:27: As the kids say nowadays, Word.

Ken said...

(I really stink at following that advice, though.)

RabidAlien said...

I plan on listening to a radio station tomorrow that plays nothing but music and the occasional ad. No DJ's or anything else. As for TV, it'll be on the Disney Channel. I may check the blogs tomorrow evening before hitting the sack, if my wife hasn't already tuned in (she's a TV person) and seen the results. Once I find out who won, I'll turn it off and let life go on. Or try to, anyway.

JD(not the one with the picture) said...

We'll know in a couple of days, or perhaps in December, if lawsuits result. Chad, who?

kx59 said...

Good post BP.
time to wait and watch.
I intend to do so at an election night party with an adult beverage in hand, hosted by Belle's employer, a small business owner.


Anonymous said...

Excellent point. Cultivate serenity.

I was recently in Japan on vacation and visited the Daibutsu, the big outdoor bronze sculpture of a seated Buddha in Kamakura.

The scene was the usual "orderly mob scene" (to coin a phrase) found in places like this — I saw one group having its class picture taken in front of the Buddha, while three more school classes stood in groups waiting patiently for their turn.

Through it all the statue sat there, with its enigmatic almost-smile. In effect it was telling them, "Do this only. All will follow."

I may need to borrow some buddha-tude when this is over.

Miro said...

Thanks for your wisdom. I would like to discuss an aspect of it tho. I guess the best way for me to express this view is via: "Never underestimate the power of individual actions in changing the world. In fact it is the only thing that ever did." can't recall where this famous quote came from but essentially it says that we shouldn't just stand by and see things done that undermine justice, environment, do harm etc etc. the author of Be the change you wish the world to be, didn't idly let the Indiam population get exploited and mistreated. Buddha set out to discover the truth and did so despite much pain and hard work. He could have just sat on and watched..... I think here's my answer. Thank you.