Living the Zen Iinspired Life – If there is no resolve, you might as well stay on the sofa.
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” So is “resolve” the missing ingredient in most people’s efforts to create real and lasting changes in their lives? Take for example one’s weight loss effort, getting to the gym, trying to stop procrastinating, cleaning that closet, or practicing to be more compassionate, without resolve we might as well stay on the sofa. Now I believe that at all times we already know what we need to do, we just don’t like it. Most people never get pass their habitual behavior of finding “excuses” as to why “they can’t”. My three-year old daughter, who is my teacher on many levels, always says to me whenever I tell her “she can’t”, “But I can try.” I often tell people, “Today a persons word is equal to their excuses.” We talk a great deal about who we can rely on in times of trouble, most of us are never on that list.
Buddhism teaches that everything is “Mind”, and every achievement is a function of the way one thinks or the nature of one’s thinking process. The Buddha taught, “The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.” We are the sum of the habitual thoughts we have accumulated and relied on for most of our lives. The battleground is really within you, not in the world around you. Authentic Spirituality is about “conquering ourselves”, by that I mean the Me, Myself, and I, I became over the years, not the one that was born on the wonder-filled day. If we never know what we have picked up along the way and what we brought with us, there are no possibilities for real freedom. We are creatures of habit, and “practice” is about being “resolved” to break the habitual behaviors that continue to provide us with only a very limited view of life.
When you take the time to practice “mindfulness living”, the first thing you notice, whether you like it or not, is that we are “machines”. Ego is a “mechanism” (not our true identity) which functions on a “stimulus/response” paradigm. It is habitually responding to life’s circumstances and situations from a predisposed formula, whose ground is “fear”. It is precisely a “survival mechanism”. It is singularly and exclusively “habitual” by nature. Authentic Spirituality is about recognizing the habits we have accumulated and reinforced in our lifetime, and stripping them away, layer upon layer, until what is left is what Buddhism refers to as one’s “true self”.
The only way I can release myself from this mechanical way-of-living, paradoxically is by applying the same mechanism of habitual behavior, and then we need to add “wisdom”. What I mean is, first we need the resolve to, “live in ways we ought”, and complete “without fail what we resolve.” We need to become habitually loving and kind to ourselves and others, doing whatever nurtures and cultivates the ground for freedom, until we die. We never get to a place where “spiritual practice” ends, and we find ourselves in “Buddhaville”. The Zen Inspired Life is a lifetime, lifestyle change, that when we finally resolve to commit to we will then live for the rest of our lives. This is the true meaning of freedom, to live a life whereby I take full responsibility for “who I want to be” in the world and, in every circumstance and situation which shows up, in every relationship, even if I don’t feel that way or want to. Most of us stay on the sofa because either we think our feelings are accurate for what’s best, or we are attached to comfort. An attachment which came along with the rest of the stuff we “picked up along the way”. Like all attachments they are “learned”. If they are “learned”, they can be “un-learned”.
“Resolve” is very much like trust. It’s never like “God coming down from heaven and guaranteeing success.” Its the kind of trust which religions refer to as “faith”. The dictionary defines “faith” as, “belief that is not grounded in proof”, “belief as a code of ethics or standard of merit”, which includes, “a sense of loyalty to and fidelity”. So we have no idea of what tomorrow may bring. We have no guarantee that others will treat us the way we like them to. We may never get rich. The world goes on being whatever it is. We however have found a powerhouse of strength which only “resolve”, coupled with “wisdom” and a proof-less “code of living” or “lifestyle” can only provide.
So you may be asking yourself, “OK where do I start?”. You know where you need to start…”Just Do It!” – Nike Buddha.
I love you,