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50. Busy? Do You Mind?

Updated: Apr 8

...or, how does a Dude deal with too many demands?

Most of us are active in daily life. And when we finally have time for ourselves we want to flake out eating chocolate while scrolling through YouTube videos. Something like that.

We need to switch off.

The animal of our body doesn't understand being busy. Animals generally aren't slaving away unless they are domesticated and forced to do so. The wild animal in you wants to switch off, chill out, and slowly graze on the grass of life.

But we are people in a rat race trying to cope with the demands of a family, a career, studying, or doing shit someone else tells us to do.

Do we ever do nothing?

So what do the experts say?

Remember to breathe - thanks for that, I will try.

Spend time with loved ones - yes, but maybe not. It depends on whether they take from us, from our energy, or if they are needy when we are already at the limits of overwhelm.

Appreciate Yourself During the Day - oh, right. Like how? Hey man, you're fucking super busy but I really appreciate your frown?

Learn to say no to others - Yes sure, you can get away with that up to a point but there's still going to be a time when you are stacked to the brim with shit you'd rather not do, and then a friend calls and you can't keep saying no.

Yes, there's more but I just wanted to give you a taste of what is churned out by professional achievers before giving you another way...

The problem isn't that you are busy

You aren't stressed because of how much you have to do.

You are stressed because your mind is reminding you that you are doing too much.

It talks to you saying that you have stacks left to do, that you can't let this person down, that you need to meet the deadline, that you can't be seen to be weak or a failure, and if you don't do it, it's only going to pile up.

If you feel stressed by how much you have to do, then you can be sure that the mind is in there somewhere voicing its opinion.

When the mind is silent doing becomes being. And being doesn't cause stress.

Remember I said, "We need to switch off"?

We don't need to switch off from what we are doing. We need to switch off from our thinking about what we are doing.

I read some of Masanobu Fukuoka's books. In The Road Back to Nature, he mentioned how he and his fellow workers were drinking wine on an old farm, and on the walls were some poems by ancient farmers of the past. He imagined them drinking wine and sharing poems after a day's work.

He noted that modern Japanese farmers (circa 1987) don't have time to write poetry anymore.

They have all the modern machinery, chemicals, and fertilisers but they are too poor to have time to rest. They are often active.

In contrast, the old farmer worked the fields without machinery or chemicals etc. They were too busy physically farming to have thoughts about much else. So, their minds were quite simple and clear. And their produce wasn't supplied through supermarkets where they were squeezed for every yen, so they weren't pushed for every second of the day to make a profit. They could take it easy, drink among friends, laugh, and write poetry.

Back to today.

Usually, when we are relaxed we are still not switched off. We are probably plugged in. We are likely to be wired to the internet, staring at a screen, or running the streets with headphones in.

We don't do nothing much.

Is it any wonder that the mind can't slow down?

Tonight my dishwasher dumped water across the floor. I had been cleaning the filters because it didn't seem happy. But did I ever do nothing when the dishwasher was washing the dishes? No. I filled that time with something else. Even if that was watching some Netflix, I wasn't switching off.

I've decided not to bother with the dishwasher anymore. I'm going to do it by hand. And that's giving me more to do. But if I would be plugged in anyway, is it giving me more to do, or more of what I don't want to do?

So, how do I deal with that?

I don't think about it.

I hand-washed a stack of dishes, fed the kids, got a stack of dishes back, and said to myself, okay, that's enough for today. A few dirty dishes left out aren't going to end the world.

But while I was cooking and then mopping the floor, and cleaning more dishes, I didn't hold on to any thought of frustration that began to surface. I didn't say the usual, "This shit is never-ending." I just noticed any thoughts and let them go. Then my mind returned to quiet and I was washing dishes but with a blank mind. So, nothing troubled me.

Nothing was doing a "poor me". Nothing was blaming my ex for moving out. Nothing was getting angry at the kids for giving me back the stuff I'd just cleaned. What else could they do?

Where there is no thought, there is no anger, joy, hate, or frustration. And when these things arise, I know they are not me. They are not the Dude. They just arise. The Dude simply notices them.

The Dude is present in Silence.

And a silent mind is a beautiful thing.

As I dried the cups, I hadn't anything else going on. Sure, there were shit loads of things still to do but I can only do one thing right now. Once I have completed that, I will see what is next to do until I have had enough.

A monk once asked a Zen master "What is Zen?" He answered, "Doing one thing at once."

Simple is not easy. Or is it?

Sure, Thomo, you might be able to turn off your mind but how do we do that?

You try. It will get easier. The space will get bigger - or rather, more of the space will be uncovered the fewer thoughts you have. If you can think of each thought as being projected onto a movie and you are the Dude sitting with a beer watching the film, then you get to not only distance yourself from those thoughts but you may also disassociate yourself from them.

You create a distance. You create space.

Until one day you begin to wonder about the expanse to either side of a thought coming and going. And then the movie screen becomes a mirror.

And the Dude, well, you see that he is looking right at you, always has been, and that you are him, and he is everything else. And all is okay just as it is.

Bright spring blessings to you (or Autumn ones to my fellow Southerners.)

Rev. Thomo


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