In my last post I described thinking about life as a game and the goal of the is to be happy. Our team mates are those people who are in our lives, such as our family, work colleagues, and friends. The Buddha is a hands-on manager, such as Tom Landry or Alex Ferguson. The Sangha are like the coaches, who help you in your game.
The Buddha gives us new tactics that change the game for us, described in the Dharma. The Buddha gives us a new formation and changes the way that we play with the rest of the team so that we get the most out of each pass and every set piece. Unfortunately, some team mates need to be dropped because they are costing us the game. It’s not that they are bad players, they just aren’t working well with the team.
Changing Your Tactics
You are the one out on the field playing the game, the goal is your happiness, and it is only you that can score this goal for yourself. As with any tactics, it is only when we change the way that we play the game that we get a higher score. If we still play to the tactics then the scoreline remains flat. Usually this means chasing the ball around the field until you feel tired. It is not enough to talk a good game, you need to play a good game as well.
In other words, we need to implement the teachings in our day-to-day life. It is no use reading an interesting Buddhist book then promptly forgetting all about it and going about your day as before. This only works when you apply the Dharma to your life. The Sangha will help you and encourage you along the way.
Reading some Zen texts it sounded as though a great Enlightenment was required before anything would happen, requiring endless hours in strict zazen meditation practice. Maybe I would be struck with a stick every now and again!!
I’m not trying to devalue meditation or the realizations that come from meditation, both are important. With effort in meditation those realizations will come. But in the meantime there is so much more to work with that will make every day special and meaningful.
I now think that it is a matter of understanding the manager’s advice and putting their new tactics into play. This is achieved through receiving teachings from a good teacher, either at a Dharma center, through a correspondence course, or online. Then it is a matter of internalizing the teachings.
Assimilating the teachings into your life involves reviewing firmly held beliefs and assumptions and questioning whether they continue to be valid in the light of what you have understood. This can involve some substantial changes and can take time to work through. This might take change how you approach the following:
- Having a good motivation every day.
- Changing how you think about yourself.
- How you talk and interact with yourself and with others.
- The emotions that you choose to focus on and cultivate.
- Changing how you approach problems and difficulties.
- Making lifestyle changes, such as your diet and who you choose to associate with.