Are You Unmotivated To Sit Zen?

purpose suffering wisdom

From a question in our weekly livestream.

We all go through periods when we are feeling un-motivated to sit Zen. Everybody in their consciousness has what I call the backseat driver. It’s the little voice that is always talking. “I should do this. I shouldn’t be doing that.” “Am I’m doing good?” “Why am I doing so badly?” This is what we call “checking”. The first step is not to worry about this voice. That little voice has one job, and that job is to check. Our problem is we put our energy into that little voice. This creates dissatisfaction in our lives. Our meditation practice means putting our energy into this moment. What’s happening right now? So right now I’m sitting here responding to your question. If I put all of my energy into the sound of the cars outside, I cannot connect or engage with you clearly. My mind is somewhere else. So, put your energy into what’s happening right now in this moment.

Everybody goes through a period when they don’t feel inspired or feel stagnant. That is part of the human condition. You start a new job and it is very exciting. Then a few years go by, and it is not so interesting anymore. Or maybe you just got into a relationship and the energy is really intense. Then years go by and it doesn’t seem to have that fire anymore. That is why I think the most important is finding motivation through our intention. Why do you practice meditation? Why get up early and sit Zen? What is the point of all this? Why do we even live our lives? For whom? For what? These are big questions to ask yourself. When I’m finding myself with low energy or stagnant in the sitting practice, I come back to the intention. When I first started practicing Zen meditation, I just wanted my suffering to go away. But later, I realized meditation is not about getting something or getting rid of something. It’s about seeing everything clearly as it is. When we can see the nature of everything that appears, we can “digest” our experience. This is the place we can find wisdom, clarity and strength.

Also, when I’m feeling unmotivated, I look at the suffering of this world. Open up the news and look at what is happening in this world. Human beings are suffering. We don’t understand ourselves and don’t understand why we are here, so we create a lot of problems for ourselves and others. If you look at this world and you feel sad, angry, or scared, use that energy to fuel your meditation practice to get you back on the cushion. That led Buddha on his journey to seek enlightenment. He saw three things that really hit his mind. He saw a sick person, an old person, and a dead person. When he saw this dead person in front of him, he saw himself. He realized this life will go away quickly. We come into this world with nothing and we’re going to leave with nothing. So what is the point of all of this? Let that be your motivation.

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