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Question: "How many Psychologists does it take to change a burnt out light bulb?"
Answer: "One, but the light bulb has to want to change, first."
There is a teaching in Zen about when the student is able to learn, and that's when the student cultivates the "don't know" mind. I've always felt that teaching slightly misses the mark in the West, because it's translated as having an "open mind" and that's not it. I remember when I was in college and actively searching for some spiritual path that I could embrace, because the one I was raised in was closed to me. I didn't know what I was looking for, but I was willing to consider anything. I had the needed "don't know" mind.
I found the Hare Krishnas, who told me when I laughed at them that I didn't have an open mind. Of course not. I was very selective about what I put into my mind. I didn't know what the answer was, but I'd already rejected worshiping a man from the past that's really God in disguise. Why would I replace that with one currently living that claims to be a Messiah? Don't know and and open mind are two vastly different things, but it's hard to make that distinction. "You're not interested in how Buddha gave us a roadmap to eliminating selfish desires? You need to have an open mind."
I think instead what Zen needs to teach is to cultivate the desire to change. That desire blazes in some of us at first, when we finally find answers that make sense to fill our "don't know" mind. But once you learn how to meditate and memorize the Noble Truths, once you notice you don't get angry as often and are learning to let go of your emotions, that desire to change fades. You become comfortable with your practice. You notice the improvements in your mind and life and idle along.
But as long as you're breathing, you're not there yet. You must wade deeper into the Dharma. I know this, and it's still hard for me after all these years of practicing Buddhism. Letting go isn't something you do once, and that's it. It's a conscious decision you make every moment of every day. I'm at a comfortable place in life and that's hard to deal with. It's like dragging myself out of a comfortable bed. But I'll do it. I've done it before. I'm breathing, so I'm not there yet. I still get angry at the people in the world for being so predictably stupid. I still worry about how I'm now sliding into old man territory and think about my father in a nursing home with dementia and picture myself in that place. I have a new set of problems to deal with and since the world ain't gonna change, guess it's up to me again.
Just wanted to vent. The first signs of fall weather always bring out the melancholy in me.
"The first autumn leaf falls from the tree, and the entire world is revealed."