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Musings for the Modern Mystic

Have you ever wanted something so bad it felt like you might die if you didn't get it? Well, one of the many secrets of zen actually has an answer to this.

How to Get What You Really, Really Want: One of the Deepest Secrets of Zen

You know what my secret is? I don't mind what happens. ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti Share on X

Well, as opposed to so many other articles with such a blatant click-baity title, I’m not going to string you along here. While there are many secrets of zen, I’ll give you the answer to this one right now, right in the second sentence: STOP WANTING IT.

That’s it. Want nothing. Choose what shows up instead.

This is the very essence of zen. It is what is meant by the “surrendered state“.

Do this, and persist in it long enough, and you will most likely find some incredible things unfolding in your reality, very possibly including those that you formerly really, really wanted.

The irony? It won’t matter, because you won’t want them anymore! You’ll surely enjoy them while they last, but the terrible need you had for them to give you fulfilment will be gone, and while you’ll still surely care if they show up or not, you’ll barely mind it if they don’t.

Can you think of a more pure definition of freedom?

Yes, I know, this is the real world and things just don’t work like that. You’ll be a bum on the street before you know it. And besides, how are you supposed to ever achieve anything if you don’t want it? You’d just sit around wrapped in a sheet all day, wanting nothing, doing nothing.

As with so many secrets of zen, it is somewhat paradoxical. Yet all you have to do is look at certain practitioners themselves. A group like the Shaolin Monks, for example. They’ve achieved some incredible things: razor sharp mental and physical dexterity, various levels of inner peace, a deep understanding of themselves and the world. The list goes on.

So it’s both a very complex yet incredibly simple idea.

To break it down again: future and past are mental concepts, which means you can never not be now. You wanting something in the only moment that exists equals just that: the experience of you wanting.  As long as you continue wanting it, you’ll continue having that experience.

You want more money? Yes you do.

You want to be more attractive? Obviously fugly! Just look at that mug in the mirror! Now go walk around as that person and watch reality act as the mirror.

You want peace of mind, security, love from others? Chase after everyone and watch how they run. (Or, pretend you don’t, and terrify them later, after it’s too late ;)

This is how it works. The moment you start strongly emitting the state of wanting, you are, in that same moment, confirming your lack of having.

Ok, so maybe I’m over-simplifying a bit. Desire is an undoubtedly in-depth and fascinating topic, and there’s endless examples of the opposite: people who wanted something so badly they spent years working towards it, and finally did achieve it–it’s more the rule than the exception in our world. But the question is: how did they feel as they were getting there? Zen says it was impossible for that thing to manifest in their reality without at least an element of not wanting, and simply deciding instead. Everything else was stress and sweat.

The zen master, on the other hand, privy to the many secrets of zen, relinquishes all attachment to results and simply, pleasantly does the work involved in getting there. She has no need for anything else to show up, even as she builds mountains from mole hills. Her joy is %100 in the doing, in the creative act itself.

That’s the secret.

Now, can you apply it?

Kyle McMillan
Kyle McMillan


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