Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Simplify Your . . .

this version?

or this version?

In order to be worthy as a Zen student 
I must go straight on a narrow mountain road
That has ninety-nine curves.
[koan in the Sanbo Kyodan tradition]

Google "How to simplify" and you get almost 4 million hits.  It is charming. My goodness, how many of us in the modern world feel our lives are overly complicated. 

There are, it turns out, mathematical technique for simplifying equations.  But most of the hits are about how to simplify your life, your house, your clutter, your day.  I liked the simplified approach to simplifying on wikiHow, which is a commons how-to-do-anything manual I'd never explored:

1.  identify what is most important to you
2.  eliminate everything else

This is the approach I'm taking to the move in our future.  Easy.  Take the kitchen, for example.  I'll just pack the items we actually use and leave the rest in the house for the tag sale. That's going to mean that dream items (maybe someday I'll make another baba au rhum and need that bundt cake pan) has to go.  I can handle it. It will be harder for Tom, who loves each and every book he ever bought.  And actually, I have to go through all those good clothes I haven't worn for years . . .

If you think stuff is a problem, try simplifying your whole life.  I've been working at that for years, decades, and have realized my fundamental survival instinct:  The most important thing is to stay alive.  If it weren't, I'd never have done dialysis or undergone a transplant.  And even surviving can be complicated.  Would you rush back into a burning house for your child or cat or manuscript?  Would you endanger your own life for others?  For people you don't even know?  (Firemen do it all the time.)  Would you stop eating potato chips to lower your blood pressure?  Surviving can get complicated.

As a student of Zen I naturally turn to the more difficult problem of simplifying my busy mind in the face of the choices available in a life of luxury (by luxury I mean that I have a fairly secure home and food, and don't need to work for them anymore).  Right now I should be eating breakfast or actually, meditating - meditation goes best for me in the morning, and I'm running behind on my personal schedule. Or really, this is the best time to work with poetry.

But I want to finish this post, which is my work now, and am very interested in exploring the how-to-Zen articles on wikiHow (How to create a Zen bedroom!).  And I see Jeff responded to my e-mail last night . . . and I wish my photos of  Tashi would upload to Picasa so I can pick one for this post . . .

Maybe these are the ninety-nine curves of that narrow road each of us walks on.  No big deal, each and every moment.  But it is.  

No comments:

Post a Comment