Friday, June 13, 2008

Be like Nike

I wonder what the PR brains at Nike were reading or experiencing when they came up with their philosophy of 'Just Do It'. I had their motto running through my brain when I got half-way through 'Wanting Enlightenment is a Big Mistake'. This is a book made up of various speeches made by a recently departed Zen Master. He had two important points to make to the students he was with, and these two points were repeated time and again in his speeches. One point was that when you think more than feel, what you say becomes complicated. People have a tendency to talk in circles or hide their confusion behind their fine-sounding words. I am among these people more than I care to admit. Anyway, this Zen Master counters this talking and thinking in circles mentality by saying 'Don't think -- just do it'. Sounds something like what Nike was talking about, doesn't it? The latter part, at any rate.
The second point this Master discussed time and again has to do with identity. In the final analysis, we as a people are very fond of labelling things and naming them. We call a dog a dog and we name the sky with the name blue. The dog doesn't name himself as a dog and the sky doesn't name itself as the sky. Our species needs to think of names for things, but I think we're the only one (on this planet, anyway). Through identity comes ego. Drop the name, you drop the identity. The answer to the question, 'What am I?' usually ends as a label. The Master in this book suggests that a more appropriate answer would be 'Don't know'.
Do I agree with these two points? I am not sure. The first point is not an easy one to live by for someone who does most of their living in their head. I do much more thinking than is good for me, it seems. My diaries are just full of thinking, and thinking is a hard habit to break. Of course, it is important to consider the pros and cons of something, but don't go too far. At the end of the day, just go for it and Do It. Thinking oneself into mazes and circles might seem safer, but the time comes when you need to stop thinking and just do what needs to be done. The second point makes me laugh. I usually say 'Don't know' to everything I'm asked around the house. Go figure.
Can I be like Nike? So long as I don't have to wear their overpriced running shoes, sure.

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