|What Am I? Galen Sharp
Nonduality Salon (/ \)
_THE LAZY PATH - A SHORT WORK OF SPONTANEITY_, By Thyagi Tzu
PREFACE: A CALL FOR SPONTANEITY
Do we use a method to extract our attachments to the world?
Then can we use the method to extract our attachments to the
method? The applicability, using a system of rules (or ethics, if
you like) which yields certain results, depends largely on what
point one is at when one encounters the system.
If one is completely disoriented and needs some framework within
which to begin to FEEL, then adopting an artificial system may work
toward this end. However, if one already DOES feel which way is best
for oneself, then adopting artificial systems may become part of the
PROBLEM, not the solution.
If I am working on listening to that intuitive voice inside me and
am troubled, thrown off, by all these busibodies who keep telling me
what *I* need, then describing 'what works best' is completely at
odds with what I need to hear. While I think that systems of practice
are important for those without this inner guide, demanding that
these systems are The Way To Go (tm) by virtue of their perfection,
whether we like it or not, is not only counter-productive to those
who seek their own course, but sets up STRONGER attachment to them
in those who are just beginning their quests.
I'd compare this rather directly with fundamentalism. It *IS* a
type of Buddhist fundamentalism to regard the 'virtuous' path as
sacrosanct. The way of ahimsa, vegetarianism, diligent sitting
facing a wall, and pleasant interaction may be a fine ideal, and I
might even agree that this way is virtuous, but AIMING for it or
setting it up as an ideal only makes it more UNreachable. People get
so hung up on what they are doing (i.e. how they are behaving) that they
forget who they are (Buddha-nature) and why they are practicing
(ostensibly to become 'perfect', whatever this means).
This may come as a shock, but the Way may not include mimicking the
'virtuous'. It may involve finding one's path through the dark corners
of those behaviors and experiences which are considered NONvirtuous,
perhaps in order to become truly *aware* of what it is we have to
choose from. Focussing on the GOAL may detract from our focus
on the PRESENT.
In the present we may have an extreme need to be cantakerous,
to be self-destructive, to be belligerent, to eat MEAT (Buddha forfend!)
and generally to NOT conform to what is held out as 'The Way of the
Virtuous'. Restricting one's activities and expressions to those
which are seen as 'best' may actually prevent them from arising
naturally within us.
It is one thing to say "Meditation is great and when I do it I find
I have less of a desire to be self-destructive." and quite another
to say "Meditation is the best way to lose those behaviors we know
to be self-destructive." In the first, one speaks from one's own
experience and refrains from making generalizations about specific
behaviors ('discerning' them, if you like). In the latter, one
evaluates and criticizes in such a general fashion that we are told
the speaker knows something about US; that we ought be listening to
THEM instead of our 'Buddha-voice' (if you will forgive this expression).
My intent both in supporting the 'Way of the Laze' and in firmly
rebutting all others who represent the extreme of tradition
is simply to leave room for spontaneity. I don't get the impression
that, in the highly structured, disciplined Zen monasteries or temples,
one is initially taught the value of uncontrolled activity.
In Taoism we find such a value in its constant focus and interest in
nature (which Zen notes but seems not to place as its centerpiece) and
in unrestricted vitality.
I hope that this work goes some distance in explaining more precisely
(and thus LESS accurately) what the Way of the Laze IS.
For those who need this spelled out MORE precisely:
a) Adopted 'rules' function well for beginners to work within in order
to find their way.
b) Once one's will is discovered, the rules are a hindrance more
than a help.
c) People who support the rules are only aiding those who are in
need of rules.
d) People who criticize or leave no room for spontaneity are
e) Ideals serve the beginner yet eventually become an obstacle
to one's practice.
Nature and artificial systems are interesting to contrast. Just
what makes a system 'artificial'? What is the difference between
an 'inner voice' and an 'outer' one? Where does Nature stop and the
artificial begin? When do systems become useless and therefore no
longer worth our time? Where do 'we' leave off and the systems
begin? Are WE artificial?
Part II - An Essay on Laziness
There are enough ascetics, wielding rods of discipline, fluttering
about that I thought it time to begin a lecture on perfect practice. :D
PRACTICE AND ALTERNATIVES
There is no practice which is 'the best way'. That which you find most
valuable is what will yield the best results. If this means that you
stick with zazen 24 hours a day, that is excellent. If this means that
you sit before the television and watch reruns of 'Gilligan's Island',
that is excellent. If you feel that a particular activity leads you to
greater enjoyment and less suffering, please follow it.
After reading many tomes which stress restriction and asceticism as
means to enlightenment, I suggest here an alternative for those of you
who see these as too extreme...
THE WAY OF LAZINESS
To begin with, broad experience is the measure of the successful Laze
(the one who follows the Way of Laziness). Thus wander, explore, and
find out what it is that pleases you most. If, of course, you discover
this very soon and stick to it, it will lead you to your goal very quickly.
The 4 Lazy Truths:
This is the diagnosis for our culture as we know it. The Truths are not
presented as things that we are SUPPOSED to assume true, but as
things which we find valuable to assume true at the present. Make up
your own if these do not suffice (besides, it is easier to remember them
if you make them up).
1) There is laziness. We sense our resistance to the busibodies who
inhabit the world around us. The laziness itself is not the problem.
It arises from a deep need to be sedentary. We sit, we lie about, we
watch television, we read interesting literature. This brings
enjoyment, and to the extent that other things detract us from this
path, we must take measures to eliminate them.
2) Business supports laziness. This is an unfortunate quality about the
nature of the reality in which we find ourselves. We must work in order
to live in comfort. We must organize in order to find things without
effort. We must be active at the appropriate times in order to be able
to laze about most of the time. This principle has no exceptions.
3) Laziness leads to enlightenment. The following of laziness and
enjoyment leads to enlightenment as soon and as effeciently, for some,
as does the path of the Busy. Hard work does the job for some, but for
others it is calm relaxation, procrastination without guilt and
ignorant focus on the pleasing that leads us to 'the other shore'
4) The trick to becoming lazy (and therefore enlightened) is to
follow the 8-Fold Path of Laziness, albeit in your favorite and
least stressful form. The successful Laze adapts all rule
systems to hir needs so as to preserve the perfection of all things.
THE 8-FOLD PATH OF LAZINESS
The ideal is to settle into the dharma of perfect laziness.
Let all those workers, those achievers, those stiff-necked,
pretzel-bodied, introspective enlightenment-worshippers continue
their rigorous self-torture. Follow the 8-Fold Path the lazy way.
Now nobody says that this will be easy, but it will be enjoyable.
1) Get the right view or understanding about things. The 8-Fold Path
is part of such a right view. The rest is fairly straightforward.
That is, THERE REALLY IS NO RIGHT VIEW. Abandon the search for a
right view and all that this illusory goal entails. Enjoy whatever
view suits you, whether complicated or ignorantly simple.
2) Channel your thought in the right direction. This amounts to not
letting your thoughts get in the way of your enjoyment. Forget the
guilt, the worry, all the little details that keep those busibodies
running around all day. Let that which REALLY matters come of its
own. Now this may require some practice. It is not as easy as it
sounds to simply forget everything and enjoy life. As with the right
view, the right direction can either be said to be 'no direction' or
'whatever direction suits you'.
3) Figure out the right language and expressions for your path. This
may include making other people responsible for their own welfare,
directly confronting ascetics who attempt to project their
self-discipline upon you, and reclaiming the terms of value which
have for so long been abused and slandered. 'Lazy' is a GOOD word.
It is much better than 'productive' or 'efficient'. 'I'll do it later'
is a GOOD phrase. It puts things into their proper perspective.
'Because I want to' is a GOOD reason. Those Buddha-heads will ask all
sorts of questions regarding philosophy, cosmology, psychology, etc. etc.
'Because I want to' satisfies the Laze.
4) Develop the right action for the moment. Perhaps practice
particularly enjoyable activities (such as ice cream consumption
or football evaluation) in an attempt to infuse your life with pleasure.
The right action will become obvious to you once you let go of your
responsibilities, drop that rigid schedule which was drilled into you
by our society and just have a good time! The right action? Laziness!!
5) Enter the right livelihood. Seek that which demands the least for the
most return. What livelihood would you LIKE to enter? What activities
do you LIKE to engage? Find an occupation that involves these and work
towards enlightenment. That livelihood is right for you which leads to
your enjoyment of work. How many times have you been told that you must
sacrifice in order to be happy? Counter this, saying: 'I will be happy
when and how I wish to, without sacrificing one speck of dust'.
6) Perfect the correct amount of effort to achieve those goals which
you wish to see through. If this means no effort, so much the better!
The goal, then, is to minimize effort on the perfect path to lazy days.
When you can swim through the month like a warm pool on a cool summer
afternoon then you know you are doing it right!
7) Fill your mind with the right things. If it pleases you to think
about Zen theory, permeate your mind with it. If you want to think
about commercials, pizza and soap operas, really get INTO them with
some friends. Enjoy enjoy enjoy. That is the name of this fold. Leave
no room for those servile-thoughts, those guilt-merchant ideas,
those unhappy worries that disturb your peace. As with many of the
other points here, the 'right' focus is the one which brings the most
8) Concentrate on the right things. This is different than 7) in that
while it is enjoyable to fill one's mind with pleasurable things, this
does not describe what we shall keep steady focus on. Concentrate
on those things which maintain the standards of laziness that you have
come to know and love.
Make sure that the details and the particulars of the business which
you MUST engage so as to support your laziness are completed as
top priority projects. Find that which lies in the center of your
laziness and concentrate on it so as to understand the process of
laziness itself. This will enable you to further develop the Lazy Way
and settle into the perfect mastery of which only the truly
self-centered Lazes are capable.
The 12-link Business Chain
Note that these three topics are devised for the lazy (4-8-12). This
should make them easy to remember and therefore perfect for practice.
The 12-link business chain is the process of over-excitement which
you see all around you in our culture. It is more than a linear sequence,
it is a wheel of causation which leads to conditions of anxiety that
some call 'enthusiasm' or 'invigoration'. Consider each of these
carefully as you go about your laziness.
Knowledge leads people to come and seek your help. It makes one
'useful' and will tend to attract unpleasing tasks. Therefore,
cultivate a suitable nonknowledge (as happy Taoists call it).
2) Scheduling activities
Knowledge also leads to an overemphasis on PLANNING. Planning is
the bane of the Laze. It ruins all spontaneity and results in the
type of mindset which spoils all potentially enjoyable
Scheduling also promotes the ugly process of intellectual
prioritization. Making priorities is itself not a problem, but doing it
according to some artificial structure instead of on a gut level in
the moment is what drives the hard-core busibody. Avoid this like
Prioritization contributes to what the idealists in our culture
would call 'equality'. This concept not only destroys the foundation
of the self-centered, 8-Fold Path of Laziness, but it also preserves
the illusion that there is something more important than pleasure.
Don't believe it.
Given high ideals, the busibody will set about the standard promotion
scheme, encouraging you to do something other than follow your own
desires. This may take the form of an attractive goal (like success,
progress, etc.), but each of these is an illusion designed to entrap
your will. Steer clear.
The sensationalism ultimately leads to the projection of a lifestyle
and experience which is impossible on our plane(t). Such ideas as
'nobility', 'honor' and 'the pure life' will be cast before you in an
effort to get you out of your easy chair and into the trenches. The
waters of the social machine are shark-infested. Beware!
You will be encouraged to 'look deep down' into yourself to find the
illness which 'causes' your laziness. Don't buy it. Laziness is next
to holiness. Those whose 'feelings' are hurt by your inactivity are
out to enslave your will just as quickly as are the employers and
In manufacturing 'feelings' to inspire guilt, the busibody, seeing
that they will not sway you in this manner, will begin to placate
your desire to be lazy. Beware, this is a trick to thwart your path
by introducing false concepts of what laziness is, how to get there,
and who to follow in order to achieve it. Listen carefully, but
don't be gullible.
These false concepts will nevertheless inspire you to dream of
'perfect laziness', 'the perfect Laze', etc. and compare them to
yourself. Don't engage in this. It will inspire you to WORK toward
laziness and this will be your undoing. Let go and be lazy. There
is no secret involved. Anybody who tells you different is trying
to get you working for them.
The Laze needs no discipline. Only those very new to the path will
need the structure, the guide of discipline, to break them of diligence.
Dreams may lead to self-discipline, and this is the beginning of true
suffering. It involves restriction and pain, which contradicts all
of that for which we have worked so little to enjoy.
Once discipline sets in, we shall begin to think that we have
'got hold of reality'. This is a direct contradiction of the
1st fold of the 8-fold Path and has something to do with the
1st link in the business chain. (Note the numerical correspondences!
- purely chance, I'm sure). 'Seizing reality' is the REAL suffering
of life. Those who don't purge themselves of it with pleasure,
comfort and enjoyment will find their lives filled with terrible trials.
12) Arhats, Boddhisattvas, Yogis, Guru, Buddhas, and the rest of the troops
Once we have reality there is little choice but to become a
'Master of Reality'. This is the death of Laziness as we know it.
It is the perfect opposite of any goal we may have.
If you become one of these, you are surely headed nowhere fast.
Note also that all these offices carry great responsibility and that this
link leads directly back to 1. - knowledge. Those with the 'answers'
are the ones who will get stuck supplying them.
THE ONE SELF
There is only one being in this world that you are capable of satisfying.
Lincoln said it also, in his own way. YOU are your own best focus of
attention. Please yourself, worship yourself, know yourself. In coming
to realize the reality of yourself, you will know what Laziness REALLY
means. Don't let all those Mahayana Buddhists and Benedictine Christians
get you into a tizzy. Drop your workload and enjoy life to the fullest.
Only in this way can you serve that most important of beings, you.
I am not saying that the Path of the Laze is for everyone, just
that those who aspire to it (and I certainly don't) must eliminate
things like 'motivation' if they are to succeed. This is a theoretical
point, not a moral one.
Part III: Elaboration on Laziness
The Way of the Laze is not a training school for the Buddha-heads!
It is indeed the OTHER WAY AROUND. The formal, rule-laden, structured,
Order-worshipping ascetics are like bicycle riders with training wheels.
The Way of the Laze is for the Master. For that reason, it is not advisable
to attempt it without strict training in the traditional disciplines. One
does not attempt to fly a Boeing 747 without some training in the Cessna.
It is not for the undisciplined that the Way of Laziness was developed,
it is for those who are perfectly disciplined. Those who smoke and drink
and such may have the perfect practice already. Perhaps that is why they
resist the busibody that encourages them toward meditation. Leave them
alone. Let them pursue their Way. It may lead to the Way of Laziness if
they continue it long enough. Perhaps it already IS the Way of Laziness!
Similarly, those who sit and inconvenience their bodies in order to 'achieve'
something will inevitably come back to the Lazy Way, as the Buddha did.
Also, the rules are NOT there for 'a reason', they are there because eager
whipper-snappers asked for some guidance on the Path. The objective of
'becoming a saint' is a ludicrous dream fabricated by busibodies who need
some sort of ledge to hang onto in their practice. See the 12-link business
chain regarding dreams and their value. The master disregards the rules,
sets out on hir own, and discovers the Way hirself.
Meditation is life. Life is meditation. This is a paradox so confusing
for the new student that she must have the term 'dhyana/ch'an/zen/meditation'
defined for them. ABANDON MEDITATION IF IT DOES NOT SERVE YOU. If you find
value in it, all the better. It will keep those Buddha-heads from pestering
you about what 'your practice' is. Then you can tell them, "I meditate",
it will inspire them to sit still and be quiet for a change! Meditation may
not lead one to accept the rules if one is becoming enlightened. Sure, one
will see the usefulness of the rules in keeping Order, but one also comes to
realize that Chaos and spontaneity are necessary components of the
Meditation leads one to ABANDON the rules, to ABANDON meditation, to
ABANDON practice, if pursued long enough. Don't suggest meditation.
This is like suggesting Samsara to a Buddha! The Laze doesn't need
your regimentation. Perfect practice involves letting go of these
foolish rules, this idiotic thing called 'practice' and just having a
In summary, if one believes that one has chosen the proper life practice,
the rules and other fluff will NOT come later. They will simply
NOT BE NEEDED - no ifs, ands or buts. By the way, there are no other
lifetimes. This is the ONE LIFE and it is being lived right HERE, NOW.
Rules and restrictions are for the kids. If I suggested to an aspirant
that she ought take up rules and practices it would be like telling my
child to go play on the freeway. It is dangerous advice to follow and may
lead to their extinction, but it might also involve a serious lesson for them.
Don't be fooled by the busibodies! Laze your Way to enlightenment.
The Path is like a slow-moving river.
It winds, lazily, through the forest of knowledge.
It does not care what course is proper.
It does not concern itself with restriction.
The river simply follows the path of least resistance.
It knows that its place is pure and perfect.
Know this and the 8-Fold Path is before you.
Part IV: The Garden of Laziness
I once 'had' a garden. It was too much work so I abandoned it. It grew
lots of lovely plants that other people called 'weeds'. I began to like
to spend time in this 'ruined garden'. All the misfits were there. We
shared our stories of how others tried to get us to leave because we
'served no purpose'. They had no use for us and so we came to the
Garden of Laziness.
It was so easy to 'tend' that garden. I watched things grow. You
know, with my energy focussed on watching them grow instead of watering,
providing the proper fertilizer, picking 'weeds' and making sure that the
fruit was picked, I got a lot more laughing and playing time in.
Part V: Afterword Notes on Laziness
"First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is..."
I picture the Path as leading into a deep canyon, a monumental ravine.
All paths lead to the bottom. Some are treacherous, difficult climbs down
the side of the ravine. Some are peaceful, gliding directly to the floor.
The Laze dispenses with the accoutrements of climbing down, decides that
all paths lead to the bottom (the truth from above) and then lets go,
sliding all the way to the bottom. The busibodies must find a HARD way
down and talk about their descent as if it were an ASCENT, requiring arduous
labor and risking failure (::: shudder :::).
At the bottom of the canyon is a cool pool of fresh liquid which the
Laze has been drinking and bathing in for half a century. Why did it take
the busibodies so long? What have they gained by struggling so?
Part VI: Reviews for the Busibody
Orthodoxy meets Tantra: Vasubandhu and the Path of the Laze
Vasubandhu on lazen: Chapter 7, The Knowledges
Vaibasikas: A good mind is called concentrated because it is
not turned away from its object. A defiled mind is
distracted, because it is associated with distraction.
Review thus far:
Agreed. And a perfect mind has no object. The Perfect Laze
becomes one's object of pleasure.
The Westeners, or Masters of Gandhara say: A mind associated
with laziness is concentrated; a distracted mind is any other
Note that ambiguous and loaded word used: 'defiled'. One
grasps, within this text, at 'concentration and
nondistractedness' while emptying oneself of balance. The
Laze leaves all such distraction behind in the calm and happy
enjoyment of the Womb and Tomb.
This explanation, say the Sautrantikas, does not conform to
the Sutra and it does not take into account the meaning of
the terms. The sutra says, "What is a mind internally
concentrated? A mind which is accompanied by torpor and
laziness, or a mind accompanied by calm but not insight.
What is a mind externally distracted? A mind which is
dispersed towards the five objects of pleasure, or which is
accompanied by insight but not by calm.
Ah, but what if the mind is concentrated UPON the five
objects of pleasure, or, more importantly, upon the pleasure
itself and what gives pleasure?! What if the mind drinks from
the five objects of pleasure much as the newborn suckles from
the breast? What if such suckling leads to calmness?
But, the Vaibhasikas answer, we have said that if a mind
associated with laziness is concentrated, a defiled mind,
when it is associated with laziness, will be at one and the
same time concentrated and distracted.
Yes, you have said this, but it does not hold. In fact, we
can only affirm that that *defiled* mind, when it is
associated with laziness, is distracted.
But, answer the Vaibhasikas, your thesis contradicts the
It may. But it is better to contradict a Sastra than a Sutra.
It is only foolish to contradict a sutra if one is a
Sutras are MEANT to be contradicted, they aren't like 'Laws
of Nature' which MUST be obeyed or Mother will have us for
breakfast! Note the attachment to language, sutra and hard
work in this text. This is not the work of a Laze.
Orthodoxy meets Tantra: The Theravada Hindrances
These are the 'Five Hindrances of the Theravada tradition':
1. Sensual desire
3. Torpor or laziness
1. Sensual desire
As in the rest of this review, I react from the perspective
outside the tradition in question.
ANY desire is a hindrance, so why select out the 'sensual'? I
suggest that this is a symptom of a tradition which is NOT
integrated into society. It sees the social elements such as
'lovers', 'friends' and 'children' as OBSTACLES. This
displays a WEAKNESS in the tradition which seeks to make up
for itself by claiming the hindrance of the sensual over that
of other desires.
Of the emotions, this seems the most potently transformative
second only to love. Cannot anger be used as a means to
achieve necessary change? Too many cultures see anger as
something to be avoided or repressed rather than a healthy,
helpful experience. I suspect that this betrays the
tradition's pro-social establishment position in its culture.
3. Torpor and laziness (the reason for this review)
Definition is required here:
Torpor: n. 1. A condition of mental or physical inactivity or
insensibility. 2. Lethargy; apathy. From the Latin - torpere
- 'to be numb'.
Lazy: adj. 1. Resistant to work or exertion; disposed to
idleness. 2. Slow-moving; sluggish: A LAZY RIVER. 3.
Conducive to idleness or indolence: A LAZY SUMMER DAY. 4.
Depicted as reclining or lying on its side. Used of a
livestock brand. Probably of Low German origin.
These sound like one is describing another when using this
term. My understanding is that if one is cajoled or coerced
into practice, work, then it will have little if any
beneficial result. These are simply words used to judge
others and make oneself feel better.
If one feels lethargic, wishing to move, to work, and feels
no energy to do so, then which is better - to stay in bed or
to go against such a feeling and get up? I would not presume
to make this decision for another and feel that categorizing
these as 'hindrances' has a VERY limited usefulness.
The mention of agitation here starts me wondering whether
calling 'laziness' and 'agitation' hindrances is like
suggesting that one not move toward the extremes of
oversedantariness (laziness) or over-exertion (agitation).
Taken this way, as a whole, this makes some sense. Otherwise
such a categorization of agitation as hindrance might prevent
people from seeing agitation (and laziness, anger, doubt,
sensual desire) as OPPORTUNITIES, and so as potent
experiences. One is reminded that overly hierarchic social
structures often sing the praises of work without resistance
to its 'workers' (aspirants in this case).
Now this strikes me as the most ludicrous of those listed!
Doubt is a hindrance? Doubt of what, precisely? The dogma?
The teacher? The meaning in context would seem to be
Taken OUT of context, doubt would seem to be a necessity in
any practice which does not hold tightly to a mental
straight-jacket. Even this last can be beneficial for some.
9211.26 e.v. [Thankful for the wisdom of those who came before us!]
(Thyagi Morgoth NagaSiva)
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|What Am I? Galen Sharp
Nonduality Salon (/ \)