Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Way to Live

     Enlightenment is nothing more than lifting weights and drinking my protein shake.  Why?  Because life as it is is utterly perfect.

     You can approach life as a way of being, or you can approach life as a way of believing—and sometime your belief might be that "there are no beliefs."  Sorry, that's still a belief.

     In an earlier post (see April's posts), I discussed the great Zen master Kosho Uchiyama, and what I called the 4th way.  (For more details, once again, read the post.)  Basically, Uchiyama said that there are three ways that most people live their lives: they search for some kind of philosophical "truth", they put their belief in a deity (what I refer to as "the mythic sky god") that they believe will take care of them like some kind of butler in the sky if they only do as He/She pleases, or they decide that life is meaningless, so why not go ahead and have all the fun you want (or why not go ahead and sleep with all the women you want, drink all the liquor you want, acquire all the money you want, etc.).  Yet ultimately, Uchiyama said, there can be no real meaning in these first three approaches.  But the good news is that there's a fourth way to approach life; a way that stands outside of the other three.
     This is how—for the most part—I try to live my life.  (And, being human, I fail at it plenty of times; I stumble along the way, getting caught up in things of the world that don't—that can't—bring real meaning.)
     So, what is this fourth way?  Well, it's not really something you can pinpoint exactly.  To do so would be to take on a new set of beliefs.
     It's similar to when the Buddha was said to have uttered the words: "Be a lamp unto yourself."  (Or something like that.)  But what the Buddha didn't mean was for you to try out a lot of different things, and then come up with your own system of beliefs.  (And, I'm afraid, this is what a lot of "spiritual" or "New Age" or even Buddhists do in the West.)  When you do that then it's no better than believing in a mythic sky god or taking a materialist stance that none of it matters so why not do whatever the hell you want to do.
     It means to live your life as life.  Or—to put it in different words—let life just live itself out.  Be centered in being, and then just let life happen.
     Now, this doesn't mean that life has no meaning or that you shouldn't strive.  You should not cling to the striving, however, or see it as something other than what it is.
     Obviously, when I lift weights there is plenty of striving, there is plenty of effort put into building muscles, getting stronger, becoming healthier.  But it simply happens.  I do it, but there is no getting caught up in it.
     Or, I might say, the ego isn't there.  (This is not to say, once again, that I can't be an egotistical prick; I most certainly can.)  There is lifting weights, and doing cardio, and drinking my post-workout protein shakes.  But all of this just happens in an equanimous manner.  (Sometimes nondual or advaita writers say that life just happens in a joyful, playful manner, but I think that misses the point.  It's not good, nor is it bad.  It just is.)  To quote the Buddha: "There is doing, but no doer thereof."
     Let life just happen as life.
     Lift weights, meditate, make love to your partner or spouse, enjoy a cold beer with your buddies (that's one of my favorites), go to church, read all of the Buddhist books or Christian books you want to read; but don't get so caught up in the doing.  Rather, get caught up in the being.

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