Lana,

My comments are embedded below:

Greetings,
 
I apparently have been practicing a number of principles of Zen for quite
some time, albeit completely unintentionally.  A lot of what I am reading
now are things I have realized through experience without external
guidance: It is very refreshing to see there are teachings for this that I
have stumbled on.
 
One thing I am having a lot of trouble with recently is interaction with
others who simply don't understand - people so stuck in their dualities that
they can't begin to comprehend I just don't have them, people who are so
immersed in the material world that they can't conceive that I am happy
without many possessions, people so focused on having external influences
complete them that they seem to be cut off from simply being.  This issue
has been so pervasive recently that I have went from existing with a
peaceful thought-free mind (no-mind?) to one that has been sad on occasion. 
I have never needed meditation to achieve that state, but I am starting it
to see if it helps.
[Bill!]  Why does this attitude of other people make you sad?  If what you
say is true then your very life is providing them with an example of a
content human being.  You can do no more unless they specifically ask you
for guidance.
 
It seems the issues most frequently presented are that people who feel I
am important to them seem to keep insisting on doing things for me, then
being frustrated that I am not ecstatic for their gestures (nor am I upset,
those gestures simply are what they are - transient, typically materialistic
things that are nice, but not necessary to my wellbeing).  They expect to be
thanked as if I had needed their action like food or water.  They seem
to expect me to sustain them in a similar fashion.  And thus they make their
own misery over it when I simply am who I am.  I've tried explaining, but
they are not ready to learn.
[Bill!]  You correctly see that 'gifts' that are given with an expectation
of reward - like a thanks, are not truly gifts.  They are pre-payments or
bribes.  You cannot save them from being miserable.  You can only save
yourself, and by doing can set an example for them.  If they are interested
in your example they'll ask.  Otherwise there's not much you can do.
 
I have been called "cold" or "unsympathetic".  It seems people expect me to
make assumptions on the intention (or nonintention) behind their actions. 
Yet they do them and by doing them they are those actions, yet they take no
responsibility for them.  Even more they seem to expect everyone, including
nature itself to excuse their actions, nullify any effect or consequences
those actions may have had.  To me it is what it is - yet this makes
them miserable, as if I am expected to wipe away their remorse by reassuring
them they were at the mercy of some power other than their own.
[Bill!]  You can teach by coddling and nurturing or teach with 'tough love'.
Zen is mostly known for the 'tough love' approach (leaving a prospective
student to sit at the entrance to the zen master's cave for a year before
he/she has shown sufficient mettle to be accepted as a student), but some
historical zen master's have used the more touchy-feely approach.  In this
era most zen masters/teachers have a more soft approach - at least in the
beginning.  
 
So I ask: How do you interact with the people in this world?
[Bill!]  That would depend on what role you want to play for them, or if you
want to play a role at all.  If you want to play the role of teacher to them
I'd advise you to develop teaching skills that cover the entire spectrum of
'tough love' to 'grandmotherly nurturing'.  Then you adapt YOURSELF and your
teaching style to the particular student.  If you're not interested in being
a teacher then it really doesn't matter how you interact with others as long
as it is genuine - no role - you are not better off for your happiness and
they are not worse off for their materialism.  You are just you and they are
just them.  I've often said zen is the ultimate WYSIWYG (a computer term for
'what you see is what you get'.  Just be Lana.  That's more than enough.

If 'just being Lana' causes YOU discomfort (as you've described above) I'd
suggest you continue to re-examine your situation to try to determine WHY
this discomfort exists.  I can't tell you WHY it exists for you, but I can
tell you the discomfort is created within you, not forced upon you by
others.

Of course I do this with zen practice - mostly zazen - but as you've pointed
out at the beginning of your post this is not absolutely necessary.

Welcome to the Zen Forum!

...Bill!
 
-Lana



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