zen and the art of finding yourself

29 Mar

I returned yesterday afternoon from another retreat. This time I was only there for two days, since I didn’t take any time off of work.

But even those two days have helped me realize some things.

First of all, I went back and looked at my journal entries from my first retreat six months ago. I always write down what I’m feeling as often as possible while on retreat thinking it could be helpful later. And it has been.

I noticed that I fell into the routine so much easier and faster this time. I wrote so many times about being nervous or not knowing what to do the first time. Also, the silence bit really bothered me the first couple of days on my first retreat. This time it was almost a relief not to have to talk to anyone. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personality and I talked about it with my Zen teacher. I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve been getting some interesting responses from people when I do things that seem “out of character,” which I apparently have been doing a lot lately. But I’ve always done that. I’ve never had a very fixed sense of self. I’ve tried things on, and then let them fall by the wayside if they don’t quite fit. But changing yourself can also be disconcerting to the people around you, even if you don’t intend it to be. People expect you to act in a certain, predictable way. It’s what they’re comfortable with.

I’ve realized that this may contribute, somewhat, to my difficulties with personal relationships. It’s not the fault of anybody. It’s just the way I am. And it can be hard to accept sometimes. But I’ve found that I’ve been Zen all along, at least in this way. In Zen there is no fixed personality, no soul. There is only who you are right at the very moment. And that person is different from the person you are in the next minute, or month, or year. And so the title of this blog post is an oxymoron, because in Zen you can’t find yourself, you can’t define yourself. You can only be what you are every second.

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