Zen before Zen

I think AA Milne was tapped into Zen before Zen was a Western thing. His writing is simple and profound at the same time. It reminds me of Rumi who was a 13th-century Sufi mystic and William Blake, the English poet and artist. AA Milne was an author but also a mystic.

Here are my top four lines from Winnie-the-Pooh:

“Sometimes,’ said Pooh, ‘the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

“‘How do you spell love?’
‘You don’t spell it…you feel it.'”

“I think we dream, so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.”

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them


Thought ruts

Have you ever ridden a bike trail and got stuck in a rut. It’s a deep track made by the repeated use of other bikers. If you aren’t concentrating, then the bike finds it’s way into the rut and it’s pretty hard to bounce out.

Thought ruts are the same way. I have thought tracks that I return to again and again. It’s like they are on repeat. I’ve got to catch myself, or I become unconscious and slip into autopilot. I’ll revisit last silly mistake I made, wrong decisions, woulda coulda shoulda. Specific locations like the shower, washing dishes, commuting home trigger this thinking. It’s the mindless work that drops my guard and before I know it I’m back in the rut.

Call it out when it happens, click the reset button and get out of the rut. The trick is to admit you are stuck on repeat and get back into reality.

Come alive

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”― Howard Thurman

I bet the morning commute would be way easier if people were heading to a job that filled them with passion and joy. Are you doing what makes you come alive or are you doing what you think needs to be done? It’s scary to ask the question because if you ask, you might not get the answer you want.

If money didn’t matter, where would you be spending your time? Removing money from the equation eliminates the fear of scarcity and gives you clarity. I suspect most people know the answer to the question; it’s just hard saying it out loud because then you have to admit you are doing something out of fear.

Who moved my fish?

Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.

I was at a talk on 2018 education methods and the speaker referred to this favorite Chinese proverb. She was comparing this to education in 2018. This maxim sounds perfect, and we all nodded our heads when we read it.

But then her next question to us was what happens if there aren’t any fish anymore, or what happens if fishing is no longer allowed or practical. How does the proverb sound now? It’s not about what you’ve learned, it’s about understanding how to think and explore a problem.

Amazon is replacing cashiers at supermarkets. Telsa is building a self-driving truck, bots are writing news stories and opinion pieces. The general rule is that if you can be trained, then a machine can be taught as well.

The education system and employer / employee system drums the creativity out of us and trains us like machines. Humans weren’t meant to have masters. We are creative beings who are wired to explore and create with the assistance from machines. Time to jailbreak our young people or they’ll be sucked into the same trap of past generations.

Don’t always dull the pain

Here is an excellent article on pain management and how Americans have normalized pain management. Ibuprofen as a painkiller came up as one of the standard culprits. In the past, I’ve written that we should kick the stimulants, and how we should listen to and trust our bodies again.

Ibuprofen is like candy. You can buy large tubs of the stuff straight off the shelf. Painkillers are just like caffeine, sugar, and alcohol – they mask how we are really feeling. It’s also pretty nasty on your stomach lining and taxing for your kidneys. It shouldn’t be the remedy of first resort.

Painkillers are necessary at times like surgery and or something chronic. I’m not talking about those cases. I’m talking about the everyday pain management for a hangover, headache, achy muscle, insomnia, fatigue or just a shitty day.

This line from the article has stayed with me, it’s about letting the pain be your guide.

“Pain is a part of life. We cannot eliminate it nor do we want to. The pain will guide you. You will know when to rest more; you will know when you are healing. If I give you Vicodin, you will no longer feel the pain, yes, but you will no longer know what your body is telling you. You might overexert yourself because you are no longer feeling the pain signals. All you need is rest. And please be careful with ibuprofen. It’s not good for your kidneys. Only take it if you must. Your body will heal itself with rest.”

Listen to your body. If it’s pissed off with something, then you’ll know pretty quickly. If you are in pain, then treat the cause, not the symptom. If it hurts then stop doing it.

Chasing the moon 🌙

Leave your front and back door open. Allow your thoughts to come and go. Just don’t serve them tea – Shunryu Suzuki

This is a useful way to describe meditation. Don’t attach to ideas as they enter your head. Don’t ignore them, acknowledge them, but then let them go. The more you let go, the less anxious you become about emptying your head. When your thoughts linger you mind acts like a porch light at night that attracts insects. Ideas like moths and bugs will be drawn to you and buzz around your head. Turn off the light and be still. Let the moths chase the real moon instead.

The paths to the well

“The knowledge I have is not my own. I just know the way to the well.” –@KapilGuptaMD

All our stories and ideas are connected. Nothing is original.

There are different paths to the well. Some trails are well trodden and wide open, some are narrow, hidden and hardly used. The source of the knowledge is the same, we all just get there on a different track.

We end up saying the same thing in a different way.