Living Zen

FAR EAST PHILOSOPHY

I find a delightful similarity in the ancient wisdom of the Far East and the Modern Scientific Methods of REBT.

Follows are selected quotes from “Nothing Special – Living Zen”
by Charlotte Joko Beck

There’s only one way to escape this closed loop and to see ourselves clearly: we have to step outside of the little mind and observe it. That which observes is not thinking, because the observer can observe thinking. We have to observe the mind and notice what it’s doing. We have to notice how the mind produces these swarm of self-centered thoughts, thus creating tension in the body. The process of stepping back is not complicated, but if we are not used to it, it seems new and strange, and perhaps scary. With persistence, it becomes easier.

“Sitting” ( a reference to a meditation technique ) is like our daily lives: what comes up as we sit will be the thinking that we want to cling to, our chief features.

(referencing change) For a time we are more uncomfortable than when we started. That’s inevitable: we’re becoming honest, and our false surface style is beginning to dissolve. The process doesn’t go on forever, but it certainly can be most uncomfortable while it lasts. Occasionally we may explode, but that’s better than evading or covering our reaction.

There’s an old saying to the effect that human extremity is God’s opportunity.

… practice helps us to see how we have created stagnation in our lives. “Have I always been so angry, and just never noticed it?” So our first discovery in practice is to recognize our own stagnation, created by our… thoughts. The biggest problems are created by attitudes we cannot see in ourselves.

The problem lies not in having Goals, but in how we relate to them.

Some boundaries are simply inherent in what we are; for example, each of us has a limited amount of energy and time. We need to recognize our limitations in this sense. This doesn’t mean that we have to establish artificial, defensive boundaries that block our life.

( on life ) A butterfly begins as a worm, which moves slowly and can’t see very far. Eventually the worm builds itself a cocoon, and in the dark, quiet space it stays for a long time. Finally, after what must seem like an eternity of darkness, it emerges as a butterfly.

If we are committed to healing, we want to atone. What does the word atone mean? It means to be “at one”. We can’t wipe out what we have done in the past; we have done it. Feeling guilty is a way of sacrificing ourselves now because we have sacrificed others in the past. Guilt doesn’t help. Saying that one is sorry – apologizing – is not always atonement, either. Though it is necessary may not be enough. Feeling guilty is an expression of ego. In contrast, true atonement focuses upon others. It is the willingness to be the sacrifice to break the cycle of suffering.

If we wake up to the way we see life and deal with it, we will be freer – not necessarily happier or better, but freer.

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