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Freeing Ourselves of the Mind's Most Intimate Lies

Nisargadatta Maharaj's wisdom, "It is always the false that makes us suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth can influence happiness, truth liberates," serves as a potent reminder that falsehoods, deceit, and inauthenticity are frequently at the core of our suffering.

Years back, I worked on a Zen koan alongside Genjo Marinello Roshi, titled "Zuigan calls master." Each morning, Zuigan would settle into his meditation seat, surrounded by students. He would then call out, "Master! Master! Are you awake? Are you awake?" Amidst the silence, he would answer himself, "Yes! Yes! I am awake! I am awake!" Continuing the dialogue, he'd say, "Do not be deceived by so-called self or other," responding to himself, "No, I will not... No, I will not be deceived by so-called self or other."

From my perspective, addictions--whether they manifest as chemical dependence, relationship addiction, codependency, food addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction, work addiction, or insecurity in the form of fear or worry--stem from a single source: a deceptive aspect of the mind, akin to the Decepticons from the sci-fi series Transformers. The mind is adept at twisting reality into what it isn't.

Zen meditation, coupled with other recovery programs, can help reorient us towards reality. Personally, it has served as a powerful antidote to diminish and eradicate falsehoods. Consistent practice, imbued with deep intentionality, can disrupt our connection with the mind's distorted perspectives and perceptions.

When individuals practice Zen or engage in recovery work with me, they often inquire about eliminating the mind's lies, falsehoods, deceptions, obsessions, and skewed perspectives. My response is straightforward: if you're wearing a virtual reality headset under the false assumption that it's reality, the moment you sense it isn't, you'll find a way to take it off.

Rinzai Zen is known as the "Sudden Awakening" school. In this sense, it takes no time at all to break free from what isn't truly happening--we're typically just bound to it by attention. By concentrating on reality rather than our thoughts about it, we can pose the question to Reality:

What is This?

What is... This?

What... is... This?

Instead of dictating to ourselves and the present moment what it is. In this way, Zen training and practice can help us enhance our relationship with reality by mastering our relationship with attention and where we direct it. This is one reason I often say, "We are the practice Itself." Please do not be deceived by the so-called self or other. Abandon deception, and as a natural consequence, we will suffer far less, as we're committing fewer errors.

一We Are Sharing the Same Sky

Calligraphy note: 棄偽| Suteru Itsuwarī Abandon the false

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