“When the mind is somber, broad daylight gives birth to demons and evil spirits. When the mind is clear, a dark room has its blue sky. That which is self-concious and ulterior is far from the Truth. That which is Mindless, is near.” – Taoist poem.
There’s a common saying in Zen that says after Satori (Enlightenment, there sits the ordinary old man.
Something extraordinary happens through Enlightenment, but nothing at all. Vedanta â€” the philosophy Buddhism originates from â€” translates to “the end of knowledge.”
If Enlightenment is the end of knowledge, the end of struggles and the end of suffering, what is left in life? What is there left to do after the struggle is gone? After all, isn’t part of the beauty of life the struggle, the tears, the heartache and finding healing and peace through it all?
If there’s nothing left to do, if there’s nothing left to strive for, what’s the point of living? What’s the point of living when life itself has no point? What’s the point if the game of life isn’t worth playing?
There is a point though; the creation of your story. The only difference is after Enlightenment and the realization of One Taste, we no longer identify with the drama.
But detachment does not mean not participating. It’s not an escape from life; it’s simply creating your story with the awareness that you are not the story. It doesn’t bother you when your life takes a wrong turn or when something goes awry. In the same way you can celebrate when something wonderful in your life happens, but you don’t get attached because you realize that your story is not you.
Everything in life is a story. The evolution of the Universe, from unconscious matter to becoming conscious, is a story. The Eros of human consciousness, how we evolve from duality and separateness to Enlightenment and union, is a story.
The search for meaning and beauty outside ourselves, and realizing that happiness can only come from within, is yet another story. We turn even the most mundane things (like washing the dishes) into a story. We have all sorts of feelings about everything and we use those feelings and associations to mold our story. Life is a series of stories.
In The Voice of Knowledge, Don Miguel Ruiz makes the point that we are all artists. We are all constantly dreaming, constantly creating and molding our stories. Based on the investment of our beliefs, we shape our story. Since we’re always perceiving new things and events, we filter some out and accept other information and ideas based on how it aligns with the story we want to create.
Like Ruiz, I think it’s a much more powerful paradigm to see ourselves as artists and not “just people.” Even if you don’t think you’re the “creative type,” you are creating all the time. You can’t not create. Every time you breathe, move, or open your mouth, you are creating.
Not Living an Accidental Life
Have you ever taken a step back and just observed life, while thinking “How the hell am I here?” It’s in that stupefying moment you realize that you’re the architect of life, but there’s no blueprint. We have this mysterious internal compass, but beyond that we’re on our own. We have to fend for ourselves and make things up as we go along.
We have to take control and steer through life the best we can. What’s most is that we take the wheel and don’t live on accident. What matters is that we don’t give up our power and relinquish the ownership of our minds.
We have to realize the power of:
The Beautification of Your Mind
There is a lot of credit (and merit) given to creating a beautiful space. We spend inordinate amounts of time decorating our homes, buying new clothes and products in the effort to make our lives more desirable.
But not much credit is given to the beautification of our minds.
We adorn our homes and spaces with expensive things. We often associate the value of our lives with the value of our possessions. Once we buy or obtain the object of our desire, within a few days or hours we’re thinking about our next purchase. The illness of materialism has a stranglehold on us; we are always in need of our next fix.
The reality is that this search for the beautification of our bodies and our spaces will never satisfy us. We have more luxury and more convenience than a lot of Royalty had a few hundred years ago. In fact, royal servants now have more luxury than the same Kings they served a few hundred years ago. Obviously something is seriously wrong. Our value system is distorted. If internal wealth is the greatest asset you can have, why is it so overlooked? Because you can’t see a luxurious mind. You can’t brag to your friends about it. You can’t say “Hey Jim, look at the shiny mind I’ve got. Your internal space looks like a pile of shit.“
So if we can Feng Shui our external space, can we Feng Shui our minds?
I think so. It’s something I’ve been personally vying for.
As I said earlier, the problem with creating a luxurious inner space is that you can’t exactly see a beautiful mind. You can’t measure it, you can’t compare it. Paradoxically, I think this misconceived “flaw” is its most attractive quality. Our obsession with measurement quantification seems unhealthy at best, anyway.
Creating a beautiful mind is about placing permanent fixtures of beautiful ideas in the corners of your mind. It’s about cleaning the cobwebs of self-limiting beliefs. It’s about creating the auto-response to be impeccable with your word, and to not ever use your mind against yourself. It’s about coming to terms with your practical mind, and creating a relationship between your head and your heart. It’s about taking ownership of your mind, and realizing that that is the most powerful and precious gift that you have.
The Tyranny of Monotony
If you’re at all like me, it’s easy to see yourself as an artist for a little while. You might last a few hours or a few days. But then the routine and monotony of life sinks back in. Everything seems to be a repeat of the day before. Every day seems exactly the same.
I’ve found that the best way to combat slipping into the black-hole of monotony is by realizing each moment is brand new. Past and present are illusions. Even if you feel like you’ve been doing the same thing, you really haven’t. This moment is all there is and each time you do something, it’s for the first time. Actually, it isn’t even the first; that would imply that there’s a second and a third. Rather this is the only time you’ve done whatever you’re doing now, and it always will be.
Each moment, each day, we write another page in our story. It’s hard not to get caught up in the routine of life. Each day seems the same and we take for granted our artistic power. We put off the beautification of our minds. Another day, we think. Maybe tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes.
The truth is, if we don’t keep ourselves present and realize that with each day we are creating, we will never get to it. We’ll wake up 10 years later and wonder what the hell happened.
We can choose to make our stories a masterpiece, or mediocre. But the point is that we choose now. If we put off our choice, we give up our power. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to put it off anymore. I can’t betray myself any longer.
I admit I don’t have all the answers, and I haven’t quite figured out how to completely resist reverting into a routine. What can we do to make our lives more like a work of art, and less like a colorless repeat of yesterday? I would personally love to hear your thoughts on how you remember the artistry of your life and how you resist living uniformly.