Zen and the Art of Thinking

It’s not as bad as you think. It’s better. It’s worse. What you think is a part of a larger picture. And the picture always changes. If you get stuck thinking about the same thing, you’ll miss the rest of the show.

Right now, a lot of people think things are bad. There’s a lot of (justifiable) anxiety about the future of our global economy. There’s (justifiable) manic anxiety about this year’s Presidential election. There’s a lot of bad news from all parts of the universe to madden anybody.

Japanese Zen master Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965) in full lotus posture.

If you believe that what you think is who you are, then you are limiting what you can become. Thinking is merely a tool. You can use it to enhance your life and the lives of others, or you can use it like a hammer to bash your own head or bludgeon others to death.

Life can’t be all thought out. Life has to be felt. You have to feel around its bends and turns and turbulence.

So the art of thinking is a simple one: use it the way you use a raft down a river.

The Zen of the art of thinking is this: the raft can get smashed in a moment of chaos. Thinking about the violence of the river won’t save you from drowning. Feeling your way to land becomes your only option.

Don’t confuse what you think with who you are. Build a sturdy raft. But don’t nail yourself to it.

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