Hotei, a Zen master. One day he was passing through a village. On his shoulders he always carried a very big bag full of many toys, chocolates and sweets for children.
Somebody asked him, “Hotei, we have heard that you are just playing a role, acting. We have heard that you are a Zen master, so why do you go on wasting your time just giving toys to children? And if you are really a Zen master then show us what Zen is.” Zen means the real spirit of religion.
Hotei dropped his bag, immediately he dropped his bag. They couldn’t follow, so they said, “What do you mean?”
He said, “This is all. If you drop the burden, this is all.”
They asked, “Okay, then what is the next step?”
So he put his bag again on his shoulders and started walking.
This is the next step. But now I am not carrying. I know now that the burden is not me. Now the whole burden has become just toys for children and they will enjoy it.
Drop Unconsciousness Consciously
To ask the most basic question, what is consciousness? The simplest definition is awareness, although in many wisdom traditions to be conscious requires self-awareness. But let’s stick with the simplest definition. If consciousness is awareness, our everyday actions fall into one of three categories:
1. Unconscious actions — These are ruled by habit, biases, hidden beliefs, received opinion, and group thought, which intimidates and overrides individual thought.
2. Conscious actions — These occur when we take the influences just mentioned — the whole mental apparatus that makes people unconscious — and push them out of the way. A conscious act involves actually seeing the situation for what it is and shaping reality around direct experience.
3. Higher consciousness — This is the state where actions are motivated by inspiration, insight, spiritual awakening, sudden breakthroughs, and creativity. It’s a controversial aspect of the human mind, with dogmatic deniers on one side and the dogmatically religious on the other.
In the course of history, higher consciousness has played a huge role, and inspired teachers like Jesus and Buddha wanted to see society re-constructed so that the most awakened and self-aware states became the norm. This didn’t occur, and it would appear, if you are a dry-eyed realist, that it will never appear until the human race reaches a tipping point with the previous state — before higher consciousness, there must be consciousness.
Learning from the story The Next Step: Drop Unconsciousness Consciously
How to Drop Consciously Our Unconscious Action:
Moving from wanting to change to actually doing so can be a challenge because the repetition of any pattern of behavior establishes neural circuits in the brain. Habits generate biochemical and physiological changes that perpetuate behavior. However, it is possible to drop a habit when you address the emotional and physical aspects behind it.
Here is a powerful three-step process that can help you succeed:
1. Identify the Obstacle: To relinquish an unwanted habit, you have to acknowledge it by bringing it into conscious awareness.
2. Present Moment Awareness: What you can do is set up day-to-day goals for yourself, and then resolve to begin living with present moment awareness for the rest of your life. For example, instead of deciding you are going to give up sugar for a year, resolve to go one day without eating sugar. Anyone can do virtually anything if it is for only one day. When you go for one whole day without eating sugar (or any other new behavior), you are a totally different person at the end of that day. Learn to let that totally different person decide on the second day whether he or she wants to do it again on this new day, rather than letting the same old person decide that it is only going to be difficult in a couple of days anyhow, “so what’s the use.” Always let the new you make the decision, and then you’ll be living your present moments.
3. Filling the Void: You know how easy it is to give up on a resolution, and you may have attributed this to some character flaw or personality weakness. Not so! You give up on your resolutions because your mind resists the notion of trying to live your life in long stretches, when it is patently impossible to do so. It is simply a matter of asking yourself at the beginning of the day, “How do I want to conduct my life today?” Then very directly begin to carry out your goals for the day. When you get good at living your present moments one day at a time, you’ll see yourself changing right before your own surprised eyes. Remember, anyone can do anything for just one day, so tune out the sentences that keep you locked into your old self-defeating ways and begin to enjoy each day.