Matt\’s Cuppa

My take on tea, technology, and our environment

Archive for the ‘Zen’ Category

To Meet Big Challenges By Doing Small Things

Posted by telecommatt on January 2, 2008

It’s tradition that each year about this time, I go online with renewed vigor in a quest to find the best productivity tools to support me in my initiative to organize and document my life better in the new year than I did in the last. I’ve already squandered precious hours in double digits in my pursuit. So much for productivity!

While productivity doesn’t seem to be my forte so far this year, there are a handful of other commitments I’ve made to myself that I feel more confident about. There is one resolution I have made that I feel will make the biggest impact on nearly every area of my life. That is, to handle things when they are small.

I know, it sounds sort of anti-climatic. Believe me when I say that it is not! Simply put, this means that I’ve committed myself to taking care of problems when they are not yet problems. My wife is happy because it means that I pick up my socks as I take them off instead of picking them up by the arm load at the end of the week. This has ramifications in the business world as well, aside from just keeping your desk clean.

I’ll take an instance from my current work environment as an example. There is a very capable member of the administrative staff who will be leaving our office later this month. She is currently training her replacement. If I begin building a working relationship with my new coworker now, before she is on her own, it is most likely that my productivity will not be adversely affected by the transition.

If that example seems too utilitarian, (which it really is not) try this. Start your meeting notes before the meeting starts. Really. You’d be surprised at how much important information is present before anyone actually begins speaking! Get in the habit of doing this and your notes will get neater, more concise, more accurate, and more uniform little effort on your part.

Like nearly everything, there are two sides to my commitment to handle things when they are small. The obvious I’ve already covered. That is, to tackle problems before they have a chance to become big problems. The more subtle message here is that big problems must not be avoided. On the contrary, I’ve committed myself to some large challenges this year.

Handling big challenges when they are already big is daunting. That is why I decided to handle my biggies when they get small again. Large tasks are almost always made up of smaller ones, just like projects are made up of actionable items. In order to face some of the looming challenges in my life, I’ve decided to simplify them by breaking them down into smaller challenges.

One example that comes to mind is a broad commitment to living more sustainably. That’s a pretty nebulous goal. But what if I could start turning on one less lightbulb as I got ready for work in the morning?

I guess that all this started to make sense to me as I sat thinking about the ebb and flow of one year into the next. Small problems have potential to turn into big problems, but we have the potential to meet huge challenges by turning them into small ones. It’s just a question of where we choose to fight our battles.
There is a line in the Tao Te Ching, which I know I’m mis-quoting, and which I’ve always been fascinated by. In it, Lao Tzu basically says that the sage accomplishes great things with no effort. I always took this to be the meaning, to meet big challenges by doing small things.

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Stated So Well

Posted by telecommatt on April 11, 2007

abarefootman.co.uk » Archive » The One Goal

“Your only goal is to be yourself”.

Think about what that means. The simplest of truths are often the most difficult to live.

I have nothing more to add. With that, friends, I’m off to bed.

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abarefootman.co.uk » Archive » Getting Somewhere, Doing Something

Posted by telecommatt on March 16, 2007

abarefootman.co.uk » Archive » Getting Somewhere, Doing Something

Just like the wheels on the bus, our minds go round and round. A thought arises, we attach to that thought, and it becomes a train of thought. Notice the use of modes of transport – the mind is always trying to get somewhere.

We do not need to be slaves to this “getting somewhere, doing something” mentality. Instead we can detach from thought, let those thoughts flow down the river into the distance.

I really like this post. I don’t know about you, but most days I need a reminder that I do not need to be taken to where ever my racing mind goes. If I choose, I can just sit down and watch my racing mind go by. As an info geek, I’m always thinking about where the next idea could take me. When someone says to me, “Let’s go here,” I’m already three steps ahead wondering what else is in the area that I could get done while I’m there. I hate watching TV because there are too many other things I might be missing on other channels. I sometime need to force myself to just sit and be with myself, and, as the author does, watch the traffic go by. Hope this is a good thought to start your weekend with!

Posted in Consciousness, Zen | 3 Comments »

Zen Under the Skin: A Dharma Blog

Posted by telecommatt on March 7, 2007

Zen Under the Skin: A Dharma Blog

In Zen, we are invited to see life as a question. We are encouraged to open to the ‘don’t know’ mind and to embrace the insecurity of uncertainty. This does not make us confused; on the contrary it allows us to wonder at life like a child and to find marvels in the most ordinary. This is not an intellectual inquiry, we need to be engaged with the whole of our being. It is said that we have to question with the marrow of our bones and the pores of our body.

Remember how cool everything “adult” was when we were kids? Everything was so big and new and amazing, at least to me. We tend to forget that the only thing that’s changed in the equation is us. Everything around us is still big, new, and amazing. It’s just that we’re adults now and can interact with everything “adult.” We can still wonder at things around us. This is not the “don’t know” of ignorance. Instead, it’s the “don’t know” of honest, whole-hearted interaction with the world around us.

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Honkyoku – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Posted by telecommatt on February 10, 2007

Honkyoku – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Slight diversion from my usual ranting on not-so-intelligent people or the environment. I ran across the term “honkyoku” while browsing on emusic and looked it up on Wikipedia to learn a little more about it. Being a musician and an avid reader of Tao and Zen philosophy I’m more than a little intrigued by the concept playing music as a vehicle for meditiation. I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t come across this particular concept before, but I can’t wait to learn more! The timing is perfect as my wife and I will be travelling to Chicago early next week for our first interviews for the JET Program. This concept is certainly something that I’m interested in learning more about, especially if we are going to be in Japan for a year. Perhaps I can even hear it performed, or better yet, find a teacher!

Posted in Japan, Music, Zen | 2 Comments »