Saturday, October 12, 2013

Work, Love, and Zen

When I was studying abroad in Vienna, I took a music course and the instructor once told the class that he had a friend who was financially wealthy. Occasionally, people would ask him about his wealth, and he would reply, “Yes, I’m rich: I have work, love, and God.”

I completely agree with him. True wealth consists in (1) work, (2) love, and (3) spirituality, or for my purposes, Zen.

1. Work is not simply your job but any kind of activity, whether physical or intellectual. It includes reading, writing, cooking, cleaning, showering, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, driving, running errands, lifting weights, running, walking, meditating, sleeping, etc. We all constantly work in one way or another. Even if you’ve been “unemployed” for the past 5-10 years, even if you’re homeless or incarcerated for life, you still perform everyday work and no one can ever take that away from you.

2. Love is not simply love toward your significant other, family, or friends. More broadly, love is good will toward all human beings and creatures. We all experience love in one way or another. Even if you have no significant other, family, or friends, even if you’re homeless or incarcerated for life, you can still, on some level, feel and express good will toward all human beings and creatures.

3. Zen is not simply zazen. Zen encompasses everything: all work, all activity, all love.

From a Zen perspective, the present moment is sacred, and so we should treat all activity (all of which we actually perform in the present moment) as sacred. In particular, we should do only one task at a time and stay 100% present when performing that task. For example, when reading a book, just read. When writing an article or essay, just write. When listening to a classroom lecture, just listen. When cooking, just cook. When brushing your teeth, just brush your teeth. When doing a really heavy back squat, just back-squat. In short, flow with the present moment. Flow with everyday life. Anyone, including homeless people and prison inmates, can do this.

Since we all have (1) work, (2) love, and (3) Zen (in the sense that we all can flow with the present moment), we are all rich, in the spiritual sense. We have already won the cosmic lottery. We are already trillionaires.

Therefore, nothing should bother you, and you should laugh aloud.

Paradise is here and now. Flow.

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