Oct 01, 2015 10:32AM
● By Seijaku Roshi
It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell. ~ Buddha
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” So is “resolve” the missing ingredient in most people’s efforts to create real and lasting changes in their lives? Take for example one’s weight-loss effort, getting to the gym, trying to stop procrastinating, cleaning that closet or practicing to be more compassionate; without resolve we might as well stay on the sofa. Now I believe that at all times we already know what we need to do, we just don’t like it. Most people never get past their habitual behavior of finding “excuses” as to why “they can’t”. My 6-year-old daughter, who is my teacher on many levels, always says to me whenever I tell her she can’t, “But I can try.”
Everything is “mind” and every achievement is a function of the way one thinks or the nature of one’s thinking process. The Buddha taught, “The thought manifests as the word. The word manifests as the deed. The deed develops into habit. And the habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care. And let it spring from love, born out of concern for all beings.” We are the sum of the habitual thoughts we have accumulated and relied on for most of our lives. The battleground is really within you, not in the world around you. Authentic Spirituality is about conquering ourselves, the me, myself and I, I’ve become over the years, so that the One that was born on that wonder-filled day may resurrect and thrive.
If we never know the difference between what we brought with us and what we’ve picked up along the way, there are no possibilities for real freedom. We are creatures of habit and spiritual-practice is about being resolved to break the habitual behaviors that continue to result in our limited view of life. Authentic Spirituality involves awareness of these habits we have accumulated and reinforced throughout our lifetime, and stripping them away, layer upon layer, until what is left is one’s “true self” one’s “true-nature”. The true meaning of freedom is to live a life where I take full responsibility for “who I want to be” in the world, in every circumstance and situation which shows up, in every relationship, even if I don’t feel that way or want to. The key is to recognize the habits which continue to direct, restrict and limit our experiencing of a full life which we “learned”. If we “learned” them, we can “un-learn” them.
“OK, so where do I start?” You know where you need to start…”Just Do It!” – Nike Buddha.
I love you.
Seijaku Roshi is the founder of the Zen Society and Abbot of Jizo-an Monastery/Pine Wind Zen Community in Shamong, NJ, where persons of all faiths and religions have traveled to learn to live a more meaningful life, what he calls a “Zen-inspiredLife”. For more information call 609-268-9151 or visit TheZenSociety.org.