We are each products of our upbringing. Our lives to this point, mostly shaped during our early childhood and wonder years, and continually built upon each day until now. (see “Ring Theory”, ACZ Archives, February 2011)
In my line of work, that day job I have to support my life in this Techno-Monetary society, to pay for things like this blog site, we deal with a number of skills. Our jobs are half technical, half construction, half art and half people-business (sort of paraphrasing Yogi Berra). Some of the folks that try just don’t make the cut, and I tell them “it’s not for everybody”. It takes a unique set of skills and the ability to handle some difficult aspects of the job, such as frequent overnight travel.
The same can be said of Armchair Zen, or perhaps any number or all manner of philosophies, behaviors or outlooks. Someone wrote to me once and said something to the effect of “I don’t need to practice a certain belief to feel at peace, you just get there.” Well, I won’t argue with that, because that’s their belief, but I know in my case it took many years and a lot of introspection and self-imposed amateur cognitive behavioral therapy, and I’m still not done, I’m sure. If it wasn’t for a number of triggers and some writings of sages, I may never have tried to seek the path of peace.
Still, just like sushi or football, it’s not for everybody. It seems some people are comfortable in their anger or hostility towards the world, or they feel helpless and overwhelmed, drowning in their negativity. I can’t understand some of it, but it almost appears that they like being angry or bummed-out or suffering all the time.
Much of that could be considered attention-seeking behavior, and some of it is clearly defensive. It seems some people like or need to be at the center of things, and they draw attention with their tales of woe, worry and angst. It seems some people have a hard, often aggressive and verbally defensive exterior, and I can’t help but think it’s a lot of hooey covering up a great deal of insecurity.
Many times I have tried to work with someone in one of these states, pouring buckets of Armchair Zen over their heads, hoping to save them from their worries, save them from themselves, essentially. I’ve noted how often there is no suggestion that can help them, no way out of their dilemma. That’s when I say “Clearly you don’t want to consider any other options here, as it would interfere with your suffering.”
In his book Illusions, author Richard Bach wrote a bit that I have adopted and used for the past 35 years or so, to wit: “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough they are yours.”
So I’m partial to introspective philosophy, self-scrutiny, and all the rest that makes up Armchair Zen. It doesn’t mean I have to move to Tibet and give away all my worldly possessions. (Though strangely I see monks with cell phones on TV…hmm) It just seems to me that CHOOSING to think in certain ways, KNOWING why we think or feel certain things, QUESTIONING if this is the me I’d imagined for myself, and PRACTICING that which I think is in harmony with the cosmos is a smarter way to go.
But, you know, it’s not for everybody.
Be at peace,