Wiping tears on the sleeves of my Enter Zen From There tshirt today during my Delta flight from Detroit to Tampa must have been a great opportunity for someone to laugh which I think no one took advantage of! Would you like to hear the parable that I love and think I practiced pretty well today?
First, let me tell you a quick story of wearing this shirt today while traveling! Flying consistently makes me feel sick even if it is a fairly smooth ride which has helped motivate me not to buy any more plane tickets for the foreseeable future! During my one week trip to visit my family in Michigan which I make once each year, I saved my "Enter Zen From There" shirt just for the day I needed it which was today!
As soon as the plane took off, sensations such as a tight neck, unstable equilibrium, and all the general bouncing of mild turbulence gave way to a pissed off judgement summarized as WTF was I doing buying this plane ticket and why did I forget how uncomfortable flying was after I had the exact same experience on the exact same flight a year before? Thankfully with my shirt on I simply gave completely into the misery, cried like my daughter does at almost two years old, and actually found great gratitude in having my chance to feel like crap on a plane ride with my family. This is what life gave me and I will be damned if I miss an opportunity to enjoy it fully even if that means using the sleeves of this shirt like a handkerchief and not doing one fack what the other passengers think of a grown man sobbing like a baby.
Now why did I put these four words, "Enter Zen From There," on the shirt in the first place? How does the parable with them as the punchline help me enter into the infinite joy of this moment wherever I am?
Will you read this post or watch the original video from YouTube, which is day 98 of the "Happier People" podcast, to find out?
Thank you very much to @gmichelbkk for converting the transcription of the YouTube video from GoTranscript into this beautiful post for Steemit, which is much faster to read than the video and has beautiful illustrations!
Enter Zen From There
I didn't make this up myself. I heard it and I think it was in "The Power of Now," or maybe it's one of Eckhart Tolle's other things that I've listened to on Audible.
It's the story of a Zen master and a student, a monk. They go out into the mountains, and they are sitting down meditating. The student breaks the silence and he asks, "Master, how do I enter Zen?"
The master meanwhile looks back at the mountains in the distance, he asks the student, "Do you hear that river running?"
The student cups his hand to his ear and he listens hard. It takes him a minute or two and he finally hears the river running in the distance.
He says, "Yes, Master, I hear the river running."
The master then says, "Enter Zen From There."
The student then ponders this, thinking about, "What does he mean, enter Zen from there?"
Then he starts thinking, "What if I had say I didn't hear it?"
So he asks the master a minute or two later, "Master, what if I had said that I don't hear the river running?"
The master answers, "I would've told you to enter Zen from there."
Now the student is really puzzled.
When I told this story to my wife, she rolled her eyes and said: "I don't get it!" 😆
I love this story because the point is wherever you are at, wherever you are, enter Zen from there.
Enter Zen from somewhere else
The end of this saying has helped me so many times because I've had this idea in my life that I had to essentially enter Zen from somewhere else.
I believed that when I'd graduate college, I could enter Zen from there, but not from wherever I was at. I thought that when I'd get a girlfriend, I could enter Zen at that point, but until then, I could not.
I had to suffer and toil with everyone else until I got something.
"When I get a nicer car, then I can enter Zen from there."
"When I get a better looking girlfriend, then I can enter Zen more effectively from there."
"When I get a family or a child or get married, then I can enter Zen."
My assumption was that I could not enter Zen basically from where I was.
If you're not familiar with the term Zen, it's a Buddhist term. I'm not that familiar with it either, but as far as I can tell, it's similar to a state of being present now, paying attention to what's going on, immersed, connected with your body.
Not often the mind world in the middle of fear, anxiety and depression like, "Oh, my God, what's going to happen?"
You could call Zen, "The peace of God."
You could call Zen, "Presence."
You could call Zen, "Conscious."
You could call Zen, similar to a state of waiting for the master to return home.
A servant in the state of waiting for the master to return.
You're waiting and you're paying attention, but not waiting as in, "Oh, my God. When the master gets home it'll be better."
You're waiting right where you're at, peacefully, "Everything is prepared, I'm ready to be of service as soon as the master comes home."
I'm grateful to be here with you today.
How to use Enter Zen From There?
This particular saying has helped me so many times.
You might say, "Jerry, when do you use this?"
I would get mad at my wife and then I'd think, "Enter Zen From There."
You enter Zen from being mad at your wife. Then go back into loving your wife unconditionally when you enter Zen, or you simply forget the idea that there's anything to be mad about.
You see, it's ridiculous that I am mad about anything because when I'm in Zen, there are no ideas that I need to hold on to, that my identity is not confined to a particular situation. I'm simply here, in this body, looking around and paying attention.
Similar to a baby, "What is it?"
I look at my daughter as a Zen master. She is present, looking around all the time. Although, even now at 17 months old, she's starting to drift off. She's starting to get lost in thought, but just for a second or two, not like me who most of my life I'd been lost in thought all day.
In fact, even as young as elementary school, I remember noticing that I was breathing, and feeling this horrible fear that I'd never forget I was breathing, that I had to keep breathing.
"Oh, my God. This breathing is so hard. Oh, man, I'm never going to be able to do anything else because I have to keep breathing. This sucks."
Even as early as elementary school, I was so addicted to being out of Zen in the mind world, that when I actually dropped back into my body for a moment, I hated it.
"What am I doing here? This damn thing. I was having fun thinking about what I'm going to do tomorrow. I don't want to be left breathing in here."
I'm now in a state of Zen, I'm paying attention to where my body is at. I'm paying attention to my feet, which are on the ground. I'm feeling my butt in this shorts. I'm feeling my breath in and out of my lungs, mostly in and out of my mouth at this point. I'm feeling where my hands are going. I'm looking at the camera and I'm completely focused.
I'm almost on auto-pilot to some degree because the words are effortlessly coming out of my mouth. I don't know what I'm saying. They're just flowing out like waters flowing over a waterfall. I'm not really doing anything, I just stay in here and the things get said. I don't have a script, I didn't think of, "I'm going to really rock these people's world today with this, "Enter Zen From There" shirt." The state of Zen is just peacefully connected to everything else.
If you've been looking, hoping or trying to get things, all of that is guided towards what you really want to do, which is to enter a state where you're happy, where life is good. Another way of saying that is to just enter Zen right here, right now.
Life is good right here, right now. You don't have to get anything, you don't have to do anything, you don't have to prove anything to have all of the abundance of life right this moment. That's what I get out of "Enter Zen From There." Anything that gets in the way of that seems ridiculous.
I can't enter Zen from there
In other words, if a person says something I don't like, you're telling me that I can't enter Zen from there because what this person said was that horrible?
You mean, I would deny myself all the love and happiness, peace and joy of the entire universe because I found one damn thing wrong with it?
That's how I've lived most of my life.
Well, I didn't like the way that cashier said that to me, "How dare she?"
I would deny myself all of the peace, love and happiness of the whole universe over one trivial thing after another.
I used to have an office at The Hub in Sarasota and I would get so mad at the soap dispenser in the bathroom. I would completely be knocked out of any Zen by the soap in the bathroom.
It was one of those automatic soap dispensers, the kind of thing a techie person might say, "Wow. This is really cool. Look, an automated soap dispenser." The problem was that it was so easy to troll one of those automatic soap dispensers. People went in there and pushed the plus sign down over and over again.
Then, you just stuck your hand under it and it would spill out a ridiculous amount of soap. Your whole hand would just be covered in soap, and then the water would come out so slow. It was automatic, so if you moved your hand a quarter inch to the left, or a quarter inch to the right, or a quarter inch down, or a quarter inch back, it would shut off.
So you'd got this hand full of a ridiculous amount of soap and you needed a gallon or two of water to wash this soap off, and the faucet was coming out at a ridiculously low speed. It would probably take a minute or two to fill up a gallon of water sitting there.
Meanwhile, I went in the bathroom to go really quick and come back in my office. I was in a hurry, I had important stuff to do. Here I was, having to take two or three minutes to wash my hands and get this soap off. I would be mad about this 10 hours later.
It was one of those things that having one basic grievance against anything in the universe is the perfect opportunity for me to enter back into Zen and see that I'm literally losing all the happiness in the whole world over one stupid thing.
It's always one stupid thing.
Ironically, it is usually easier to see that bigger things could knock you. My mom fell off a horse and almost died. I remember when I got that phone call that I ended up laying on the floor and crying, and then I felt better.
Lots of times you realize that you have to deal with the big things in life, you can't just brush them under the rug, keep going and act cool, which I tried to do with the soap dispenser at The Hub. I'd get annoyed, but then I'd be like, "I don't have time to be annoyed, I have work to do."
Then, I'd do my work annoyed, I'd brush all these little grievances under the rug, then it would be 9 o'clock at night and I would just be in a fit of anger, or I'd be really pissed off or just irritable.
I'd look at it and see that it was like 15 little things I didn't like that happened throughout the day. I managed to go through the whole day being pissed off because 15 little things I didn't like happened. This driver did that and the soap dispenser just blew a ridiculous amount of soap on my hand twice that day. I got so mad at the soap dispenser that I bought 20 little hand soaps for 99 cents or something at Walmart.
I threw that soap dispenser out and someone took it out of the trash and put it back in there. Then, I threw it out again, I think.
I put all my little soaps in the bathroom from then on. Then, I'd get pissed off because someone wanted to take my little soaps out of the bathroom.
When the dispenser was almost empty they'd throw it out before it was quite done, or they'd go fill it up with some other kind of soap. The soap wouldn't come out right, you'd push it and it'd squirt all over your shirt from a distance away. 😅
It's amazing, if any little thing blocks you from being happy, you can literally have a life that looks more like heaven to most people and you experience it as hell. That's why we laugh at all this when celebrities who have all these fancy houses and nice lives, get on these reality shows and they're miserable the whole time. We think that it's funny when they do it because we're going through life doing the same thing they are.
Seeing the meaning of "Enter Zen From There."
I'm grateful today to see the meaning of "Enter Zen From There." Anywhere I'm at is exactly where I need to be to enter Zen. At no moment I am any distance away from happiness, no matter what's happened.
Now, sometimes, like my mom falling off the horse and nearly dying, not knowing if she was going to live or not, you may need to enter Zen by laying on the floor and crying about whatever it is. Other times I'm able to enter Zen by just talking and doing my podcast. Other times I enter Zen from sitting on the couch quietly or taking my dogs for a walk.
I enter Zen by listening to my mother who's now feeling much better, walking around and doing really good, or listening to a friend or a family member telling me about their life, without judging them, without condemning them, without trying to fix them.
The better my life is, the more I'm tempted to fix everyone else's. I have such a great life, let me tell you how to fix yours.
You know what?
It takes my full effort every day to just keep having a good life and to share the information that helps me do that.
I don't know what you need to do in your life. I can tell you that when I have the thought, "Enter Zen From There" in my head, it breaks up the story because I get into self-pity just like the next person.
"Poor me! I'm missing out on making all this money," or "I can't believe this person said that," or, "I don't know how I'm going to get through the day."
I get into that just as easily as the next person. The difference for most of my adult life is that I don't stay in it very long. Some thought comes along, like "Enter Zen From There," and it just breaks the cycle.
I realize then that even if it's a negative feeling that feeling is exactly the motivation I need to enter Zen from there.
Yes, I hear the river in the background.
I'm grateful to be alive, life is good.
All things are possible and I'm excited to see what's next.
When entering the state of Zen, you turn the future and the past over to the Creator, over to the Universe, God, whatever you want. The past and the future are none of my business. My work, Zen, everything to do is here, right here right now. I don't need to go anywhere. I don't need to accomplish anything.
Now, you might think, "Jerry, doesn't this make you lose your edge?"
A lot of us associate being in pain and miserable with motivation to do better. As if I start getting mad and that will make a difference in politics or that will make a difference in my relationship or my job, that if I go around in a state of Zen, "Om," all day that I'm not going to accomplish anything.
Ironically, the truth is, actually, that in a state of Zen I do so many amazing things that I can barely comprehend them, that I don't have to sit here and write a script out for this video. The words just come out.
Now, if I tried to do this with traditional film-making methods it'd take me 10 times as long as it does to make this podcast episode."And, Jerry, it'll be ten times better too!"
That's the thing, it actually might suck.
It might be terrible compared to this. Now, sure it might be a little better, I might not go off on quite as many tangents, but I found that the tangents, the random sporadic things that get set in the moment or what's funny, is like talking to a regular person.
Watching most movies and TVs now is deathly boring because it is like being plugged into the matrix. I can almost tell you what's going to happen next because there's this certain predictability about it.
Going through the change to enter Zen from there
I found initially that it was hard to go through this change. I listened to Eckhart Tolle's first two books, then the third audio book I bought of his was a retreat. He did his speech in a retreat, just like I'm doing in my podcast. It wasn't rehearsed, it wasn't practiced, there was no script. He just stood up and started talking. At first it was a little unpleasant without the predictable mind pattern.
Everything is edited and you know exactly like in a song when the beat's going to come. You know when the beat's going to drop. You know when the beat's going to change, it's so predictable.
Then, listening to him talk on the retreats, I was laughing way more than I was in his books. Now, his books were very helpful. "The Power of Now" and "A New Earth" were very helpful, but his retreats are helpful and entertaining because some of the stuff he says is just so random on a retreat that it was edited out in his books. You weren't going to get his random political commentary in the middle of entering Zen from there.
I'm grateful today that after hearing Eckhart Tolle do those retreats -- I went to see him once in person as well -- I realized the same ability in me. Actually, going through life without holding on to a bunch of pain, without being in a state where I have to enter Zen from somewhere else, that I have to work really hard.
"I have to be a monk and meditate for 30 years, and then maybe I can enter Zen from there."
No, you can enter Zen right here right now.
I liked Thich Nhat Hanh's book "The Miracle of Mindfulness." He explained to his monks that you could go through the process he described in seven years, or you could go through it in seven months, or you could go through it in seven weeks. The truth behind "Enter Zen From There" is that "now" is all we ever have.
If I'm going to enter Zen, it better be from right here, because it's not going to be from anywhere else.
I'm very grateful you've experienced this here with me today.
My exercise is to enter Zen from here.
This is where I am, I enter Zen from here.
I enter Zen with a little bit of a sore throat, with my voice not sounding quite right, with being a little bit fatigued, with not knowing exactly what I'm going to do the rest of the day.
I enter Zen from right there.
I don't have to do anything else and to remember this throughout the day, to remember it the second that bad mood triggers off."I can't believe this happened." Enter Zen from there.
"Oh, yes. All right, it doesn't matter that it happened. What can I learn from this? Excellent!"
"How dare this person say that?" Enter Zen from there.
"Did he just insult me?" Enter Zen from there.
"Oh, my God, what's going to happen? Am I going to be able to make ends meet on my finances?" Enter Zen from there.
"Oh, okay, it doesn't matter. Everything's fine right now and I'm sure it'll be the same way later. What can I do today to most effectively deal with what's in front of me?"
Thank you so much for reading this.
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