The Zen of Insight
Insight: Our focus pulls inward, and then, as predictably as the sunrise, we’re pulled into our minds, there to tell ourselves stories and distract ourselves outward. We bring ourselves back by dedicating ourselves to insight.
Want to learn more about living a full and meaningful life?
Want to have the best relationship ever?
Check out my books
Today, we turn to the Brow — The Zone for the Zen of Insight
This Zone has several names — the Third Eye, the Seat of Insight
To begin, notice that word — in-sight.
There’s a ton of confusion about this:
- about how we see what we see,
- and what “what we see” means.
I don’t think I’d be exaggerating saying that 100% or the issues in the world, and in us, come from missing the following point:
Your rules, the ways in which you structure your reality, are implanted by your culture, and what’s hammered into you head is that these rules are right.
Even if you stomp your little feet and do things another way, as soon as you think your other way is “right,” you’re back in the societal game of, “My view is right, yours is wrong, and I’m going to change you.”
The alternative is right in front of your eyes, if you would choose to see. Here are two hints about it.
- The Universe, and you, are the same. Everything is One thing. I don’t really care if you accept the big bang theory or not. (On the other hand, if you think Yahweh invented the world 6,000 years ago, why are you reading this???)
In the Tao, form arose from formlessness, and this fits the Big Bang Theory. The universe was empty, and suddenly, it was everything.
Now, the thing I like about this is that everything that is, from stars and planets to microbes and you, are all made of the same stuff. Our atoms are the same as the atoms of, say, that mountain over there.
- The Universe does not care about you. The universe has “Kept on Truckin’ ” for billions of years, and will, likely, for billions more, and you are, both in time and in size, a micron of a micron in all of this.
Sounds grim, right? Well, I think it’s actually liberating.
Our culture tells us we “should” strive to make a difference, be unique, and change the world. Now, on the surface, this sounds all noble and poetic.
The problem, however, is that such an approach often leads to “thinking you are entitled.”
The key is doing–going out and doing something. This is very Zen.
The problem with “fix the world,” however, is this. It reinforces our erroneous belief that our problems, the solution, our salvation, etc. is “out there, somewhere.” We waste our lives on “out-sight,” frustrating ourselves when the “outer” refuses to yield to our specialness.
This approach misses the point. Out there is and always will be, out there.
Nothing out there needs us the way we want to be needed. Indeed, out there exists without us. It just is.
Secondly, what is is not “real” until we apprehend it and label it.
Nothing exists until it enters us, and we label it.
For example, bring your attention to the sounds around you. Did they exist before you heard them? Can you prove it? Of course you can’t, and this can be very, very scary. We think, “I just heard that fan motor, and it obviously was “there” before I heard it.” But, you see, there is no “there before you heard it” that you can prove existed, because it’s already in the past, which does not exist now, and cannot be proven.
We take it for granted that there is a past, but it’s just a social convenience. We tell stories of the past, and we all wink and pretend that they are true.
Here’s a hint: they’re not. They are made up, and so are you.
Now, most people, reading this, want to fairly fly up into their heads, create a stunning argument for why Wayne is off his rocker, and maybe even stop reading further. But again, that would be you, up in your head, having an imaginary conversation with me, who has never even once visited your head.
Everything you think I’m saying in this article is you, in drag, playing me.
Zen insight is seeing that our minds are pre-programmed to invent the past and future, to label, judge, blame, and to create divisions.
The Tao tells us that from the “One” of existence comes the “Two” of duality (right/wrong, good/bad, attraction/repulsion, me/others) and the “Three” of the relational “interaction” that exists between the separate things.
It appears that there is me, you, and our interaction.
Seems to be so, doesn’t it? Yet, if you can pull back a bit, insight will show you that there is nothing more than your judgements and division-making — your “role and rule making.”
In Zen, this understanding of Reality (capital R) is paramount for achieving Freedom (capital F). Freedom is freedom from our own mental processes.
Meditation serves the purpose of letting us see how pervasive our labelling and thinking is.
We sit, and observe, and suddenly the background mental chatter is right there, as plain and obvious as can be.
It’s largely crap, and consists of half-formed stories that catch our attention. We get all intrigued, and push “PLAY” on the story machine that is our mind.
Except that we are the director, writer, and cinematographer, and all the work happens after we push the PLAY button.
We’re making it up as we go along.
It still isn’t real, as in True (capital T), but it’s ours, and we’ll defend this mental creation to our detriment, right up until we curl up our toes.
So, what’s the alternative, you ask?
Seeing what we see as it is. Life continually provides raw data, and all of it is colourful and meaningless. If we can stop ourselves from making the leap into our heads, to categorize, label, and judge, we have the opportunity to just Be (capital B) with what is.
This changes everything.
Because beng awake means living the present experience, savouring the present moment, doing what is required in the present moment.
Here are some ways:
Yup. Again. Sit down, stop whining, and observe the games your mind plays. It’s not called Monkey Mind for nothing.
Notice the mental gymnastics, the effort you put into distracting yourself from just sitting. Notice how badly you want to accomplish something — get enlightened, have peace, be different.
Notice how that is not working out.
Meditation brings us into the moment, and gives us the chance to simply Be. No goals, no things to accomplish. Just Sitting, Being, Breathing.
Open Your Eyes
See with your “artist eyes.” We all have them. It’s about opening your senses to input, and holding your rush to interpret at bay. You do this by continually coming back to the object (sight, sound, feeling, etc.) at hand. Or eye. Or ear. Be present with the feeling.
Open your eyes and be present for your life, and your experiences.
Get the Joke
This follows the last one, in ways other than the sequence. The joke is, you’ve been so busy living in your head, (and by definition, “in your head” is either past or future) that you’ve missed your life!
You’ve been so busy with “the stories,” you’ve missed the Reality.
And then there’s the joke about your stories! They’re crap! Not True! Figments of your imagination! Moronic! Foolish! And, boy, do you love your stories!
In fact, you bend Reality, others, events, and history to fit your preconceived notions of who they are, how they are, and what they mean! And you’ve missed Reality. But boy, have those stories in your head been fun! Chargy! Dramatic. And boy, are you ever important, up there in your head.
And you can’t for the Life of you, figure out why everyone else doesn’t think you’re as magnificent as you think you are.
(Magnificent in either the “great” direction, or the “poor me, I’m such a victim” direction, as those are the movies that sell — both in the “real world,” and in your head.)
Get the joke, get over yourself, have a breath, and go back to step 2.
Refuse to Argue
Many people try to persuade me that I don’t know what I’m talking or writing about. I don’t care. This is not, for me, a debate.
- I do not care if you approve, get it, or whatever. My choice is to write about this stuff, hopefully to twig your imagination, and to get you to look (see step 2) at what you are doing.
- I do not think I am right, and therefore that you “should” do as I do.
- I want you to do what you do, and to be clear that you are choosing. Not forced to. Not genetically predispositioned. Not the poor helpless victim bilge again. Choosing.
Stop arguing, with anyone. What are you trying to prove? That you are right, of course. You have it all figured out.
Here’s a hint. If you had it all figured out, you wouldn’t need to argue, to convince others of your brilliance.
You’d just be present in your life, having your experiences, and you would know Reality and your place in it. You’d have nothing invested in others agreeing with you or changing for you.
And if perchance how you were living your life seemed, to others, to be worth emulating, you’d just smile and say, “Have fun!”
I do have a belief. If your life is working for you, it shows. You are content, and you do not complain nor judge. You just Live Life. If you think you know, and your life is a misery, hmm.
Be with others, as they are.
This follows. Other is anything other than you. And you don’t really exist either, so other is also you.
Nope, not crazy. Let’s “do you” first. Sounds like fun, eh?
The only you the one who just read these words. And these words. When you pretend you are the person who existed in the past and is existing into the future, you are caught in the big lie. When you go into your head and invent yourself, ever again, you are picking and choosing a story out of your memories (which are notoriously faulty…) and likely making stuff up. And then, you want others to agree with your made-up story.
Or, let’s say you were victimized when young. Does that determine how you are right now? Of course not, unless you choose to view your life through that filter.
Same with others. You have an opinion about everyone, and they’re just stories. How they are right now, is how they are right now. Doesn’t mean anything, or better, they are only as you see them. If you want to demonize them, feel free. That’s just you, playing games again.
You could also be with the person as they are. If you are attracted, move close. If repelled, move away. If neutral, hang around and see what happens. Simple.
Looking for more on this topic?
Check out my book, Half Asleep in the Buddha Hall.
Wayne’s “Eastern” book takes you by the hand and helps you to find peace of mind. Half Asleep in the Buddha Hall is a Zen-based guide to living life fully and deeply.