Lost in flow

When something is forgotten, the heart/mind no longer sees it. You could there translate [Dogen Zenji’s] “self-forgetting” this way: “When we study the self it disappears.”*
(Lewis Hyde)

Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisite for growth?: the openness to experience events, and the willingness to be changed by them.**
(Warren Berger)

The 13th century Zen master Dogen Zenji taught:

to study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be verified by all things.*

These words caught my attention because of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s discoveries about flow, that we are the least aware of self when we are involved in something that takes us out of ourselves and into the activity:

flow – the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it … “Flow” is the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its own sake … Flow avoids both selfishness and conformity^.

This description can cover all kinds of activities, but, for me, the highest pursuit is the understanding of our True Self and the contribution we can male that result in both flow and the experience of opening the mind, heart and will to the other, finding ourselves in wonder and possibility and creation.

Towards losing the self in the flow of your life try writing out your values. Not just as a list of words, but dig deeply into them, drawing out more and more nuance: you may wish to ask the question Why does this matter to me? five times to help with this. Also, to ask how do you want to include more people in this value.

May I live this day

Compassionate of heart,
Clear in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought,
Generous in love.^^

*From Lewis Hyde’s A Primer for Forgetting;
**From Warren Berger’s Glimmer;
^From Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow;
^^From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus: Matins.

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