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What's after striving?


A couple of weeks ago I wrote about no striving on my blog -- the sense of dropping the constant need to do and accomplish things. When I stopped pushing towards an endpoint, I noticed that something amazing happens -- creativity and play naturally enter my life.

I still envision projects, complete them, and put the results out there, but it's a different kind of energy. I don't have any expectations attached to the finished results or a mental picture of where my work is leading rather it's simply a form of play.

I finish my work and then wait for stuff to happen. My work is an invitation to others to play with me, and sometimes this play happens in unexpected ways.

In Zen Buddhism there is a teaching tool called The Ten Oxherding Pictures, which describe the path to enlightenment. From my re-discovery of play, I remembered the sixth picture in this series called "Riding the Ox Back Home."

In this picture, a man is riding on top of an ox (his true self), playing a flute. He has tamed the ox and discovered an inner joy. Here is the verse:

Sitting astride the ox, the noble person happily returns.
The sounds of his flute mingle with the crimson sky:
He has discovered the garden of joy.
Who else could know about this endlessly pleasurable taste?

This picture of the man riding the ox illustrates a state of deep meditation and acceptance. It illuminates the idea that meditation is not a stoic practice but embraces joy and creativity -- a way of being where you take yourself less seriously. You are comfortable with the changing nature of life like a song or dance that is constantly creating itself afresh.

It's easy to enjoy life because you accept everything that comes and goes. In this way of being, all fear dissolves, inviting play and creativity into your habitual behavior. This kind of freedom and creativity is not about being something but rather a way of expressing your true nature and playing with the universe.

To have me facilitate a workshop or retreat on meditation, creativity, and play, visit my Web site by clicking here.  

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