I’ve been thinking that I need a compelling vision for my life, but now I’m not so sure. I am not talking about simple motivation. I am referring to something that transcends specific goals.
Starting in 2000, I emotionally (not just intellectually) understood that I would have to take care of Barry and support myself. I started working. In 2004, I went back to school to get computer skills. In 2008, Barry got cancer and I was in grad school. I didn’t finish school until last December. Afterwards, I was exhausted and getting Barry onto disability, along with consolidating and getting my student loans automatically debited. It has been one thing after another for 13 years. I have had plenty of motivation: classes, work/study positions, chemo, radiation, and other dramas. I’ve had more than enough to keep me occupied. I’ve been dealing with reality as it comes.
The reason I’m not sure I need an actual vision is something I recently read that makes perfect sense. It comes from one of my favorite authors, Otto Scharmer, in his book Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies. On Page 113, he writes, “The world is full of grandiose leadership visions that were beautifully communicated—before they crashed and burned. Think Enron, Lehman Brothers, GM, AIG, Goldman Sachs, and the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld vision leading up to the Iraq War. The problem was not a lack of vision. The problem was that the vision was completely out of touch with reality. The problem was a lack of listening. All great leadership starts with listening.” Vision is unrelated to ethics and the greater good of the whole. Hitler had a compelling vision.
Motivation is more complicated today. There are endless distractions: 24 hour everything, the internet, casinos everywhere, shifting demographics, political shenanigans, climate change, and everything imaginable. People today have all the traditional sensual distractions and then some. How do you motivate people whose lives revolve around their favorite distractions?
My perceptions today are clearer than ever because I have simplified my life. I have Barry, some family, and a few friends I am devoted to. I have found dimensions of inner silence. So I notice things others don’t simply because I have removed many of my personal distractions.
I am trying to make myself into an empty space, a sacred space, a safe space, for ideas and innovation for a future that will benefit us all.
“Just before a new neural assembly forms, there’s a space of fertile emptiness, where structure
hasn’t yet congealed….So abiding increasingly in that fertile, generative space, in which neural assemblies take form, is a central process along the path of awakening. I think the people who are really far along in the practice are increasingly abiding in that territory. Thought is occurring, but they’re living more in that space of fertile freedom.” Mind Changing Brain Changing Mind
by Rick Hanson, The Dharma and Neuroscience
This sounds like the “fertile void” of all possibilities. Or it may be another way of conveying living in the right brain, not chasing after verbosity for a solid sense of self-existence. I think this is what “living in the silence” means.
“Consistent conduct of a person of the Way, the perseverance of practice, of study of the self, of offering this very life as a ceaseless thread, is like the perseverance of clouds drifting across the boundlessness of the sky or like the moon’s unbiased illumination. There is no stumbling or resting, no loss of direction, no judgment. There is no effort amidst exhaustive relinquishing of limitations. With no grasping mind there is no possibility of attachment. With utter and complete freedom, there is a beginningless and endless journey.” The Flavor of Liberation, Dharma Discourse by Konrad Ryushin Marchaj, Sensei, From Cultivating the Empty Field, The Conduct of Moon and Clouds
This sounds like the choiceless awareness experience I’ve been contemplating, only from the inside.
I have the book Cultivating the Empty Field by Hongzhi Zhengjue. I love it. He is pre-Dogen. The book speaks from the perspective of equanimity. There is a Zen quote that expresses the spirit of the book (but is not from the book). “The great way is not difficult for those who have no preferences,” says Seng-T’san on the faith mind. I simply read from the book and feel spacious.
You are the sky and not the clouds; you are the moon’s unbiased illumination. Getting things done does not require drama.