What makes you laugh?
Why is it funny?
What makes you laugh?
Why is it funny?
At the turn of this century, the Dalai Lama issued the following eighteen rules for living.
Rule 1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
Rule 2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson
Rule 3. Follow the three Rs: 1. Respect for self 2. Respect for others 3. Responsibility for all your actions.
Rule 4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
Rule 5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
Rule 6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
Rule 7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
Rule 8. Spend some time alone every day.
Rule 9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
Rule 10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
Rule 11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
Rule 12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
Rule 13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
Rule 14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
Rule 15. Be gentle with the earth.
Rule 16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
Rule 17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
Rule 18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
The Art of Timing: Alan Watts on the Perils of Hurrying and the Pleasures of Presence
Among the things that made British philosopher Alan Watts not only the pioneer of Zen teachings in the West but also an enduring sage of the ages was his ability to call out our culture’s chronic tendency to confuse things of substance with their simulacra. Watts had a singular way of dispersing our illusory convictions about such pairings, whether he addressed belief vs. faith or money vs. wealth or productivity vs. presence or ego vs. true self or stimulation vs. wisdom or profit vs. purpose.
In one particularly poignant passage in his altogether soul-expanding 1970 anthology Does It Matter? Essays on Man’s Relation to Materiality (public library), Watts considers another such infinitely important duality – the notions of hurrying and timing.
Echoing Seneca’s ideas about busyness and Bertrand Russell’s famous lament “What will be the good of the conquest of leisure and health, if no one remembers how to use them?” – Watts considers how we cheat ourselves of the joys of the present moment by grasping after the potential rewards of the future:
Just exactly what is the “good” to which we aspire through doing and eating things that are supposed to be good for us? This question is strictly taboo, for if it were seriously investigated the whole economy and social order would fall apart and have to be reorganized. It would be like the donkey finding out that the carrot dangled before him, to make him run, is hitched by a stick to his own collar. For the good to which we aspire exists only and always in the future. Because we cannot relate to the sensuous and material present we are most happy when good things are expected to happen, not when they are happening. We get such a kick out of looking forward to pleasures and rushing ahead to meet them that we can’t slow down enough to enjoy them when they come. We are therefore a civilization which suffers from chronic disappointment – a formidable swarm of spoiled children smashing their toys.
In a sentiment that calls to mind Mary Oliver’s thoughts on rhythm, Watts speaks to our one saving grace in countering the momentum of this headfirst rush toward disappointment:
There is indeed such a thing as “timing” – the art of mastering rhythm – but timing and hurrying are … mutually exclusive.
Much of our perilous hurrying, Watts argues, comes from the tyranny of the clock – a paradoxical pathology all the more anguishing given how relative and elastic time actually is. Watts writes:
Clock time is merely a method of measurement held in common by all civilized societies, and has the same kind of reality (or unreality) as the imaginary lines of latitude and longitude. The equator is useless for stringing a rolled roast. To judge by the clock, the present moment is nothing but a hairline which, ideally, should have no width at all – except that it would then be invisible. If you are bewitched by the clock you will therefore have no present. “Now” will be no more than the geometrical point at which the future becomes the past. But if you sense and feel the world materially, you will discover that there never is, or was, or will be anything except the present.
Presence, of course, is essential to our ability to experience the “spiritual electricity” of creative flow, something Watts captures unambiguously:
For the perfect accomplishment of any art, you must get this feeling of the eternal present into your bones – for it is the secret of proper timing.. No rush. No dawdle. Just the sense of flowing with the course of events in the same way that you dance to music, neither trying to outpace it nor lagging behind. Hurrying and delaying are alike ways of trying to resist the present.
Does It Matter? is a superb read in its entirety. Complement it with Watts on how to live with presence, Sam Harris on cultivating mindful living, and Frank Partnoy on the art of waiting, then revisit Annie Dillard’s ever-timely reminder that how we spend our days is how we spend our lives.
There needs to be understanding that anger never helps to solve a problem. It destroys our peace of mind and blinds our ability to think clearly. Anger and attachment are emotions that distort our view of reality.
What are you afraid of? Is it something you imagine or is it real? Describe the feeling and talk about it. Where does the feeling come from?
So many questions …
When we disagree with someone we have several choices to make. Do I want to make them change their mind? Do I need to have my own way? Am I willing to listen to the other point of view?
If we are able to free ourselves from the fear of anger, we can look for solutions to the conflict. Often the fear takes control and there is no way to resolve the issue. Freedom from fear is freedom to choose.