Willpower. . . You have two choices, and only two that I'm aware of. One choice is to be a human being. To be a human being is to be frustrated, unfulfilled, and there are lots of them around. Human beings are people who are bound by emotion as opposed to reason. People who are enslaved by their desires. People who are really never at peace with themselves, or fulfilled, or happy, because they live in the spectrum of the human consciousness, which is endless craving, and endless desire. Pleasure is followed by pain, loss by gain, love by the loss of love, joy by sorrow. That's the life of a human being. There is another possibility; one can be other than human, human in the sense that I just described it. One can become limitless, enlightened, aware, awakened, knowledgeable and powerful in ways that the human beings who traverse this Earth cannot yet fathom.
We remember a few people who have been Enlightened; we build churches and edifices in their names. We think of them as celestial beings, who descended for a short time into our world and brought messages of hope and inspiration. But few people, if any, really feel that they could ever be like that. If that's the way they feel, that's the way it will be.
Life is endless; it goes on forever; we go from one lifetime to another. A change in lifetimes is not necessarily a change in the condition of our awareness. Death is just a rest, and then we begin again, but at the same level of attention or awareness that we had when we died. A person who is perceptive, realizes that there is an alternative, and you may be that person. There is a good chance. There is another way to lead one's life, and other experiences to be had.
Most of the world lives in poor or middle class neighborhoods; a very small percentage live in wealthy neighborhoods. How did those people who are wealthy get there? They decided to, they "willed it," or it was willed to them – that's karma.
How do you anything in life? You will it. You decide what it is you want, and you make it happen. That's willpower. Willpower determines success in business, interpersonal relations, health, whatever it is. All the activities in your life, success and failure, are dependent upon your ability to manifest will. Human beings have quite a bit of willpower. They don't know too much about it, but they have quite a bit. In Zen we study the will. We learn how to cultivate it. We learn to use it in specific ways, to accumulate will. It is something that you can accumulate, just like money. We use it to direct our actions and we don't overuse it or abuse it, because it is a waste to use your will all the time. Then it runs out, you deplete yourself and when you really need it, it's not there. It is something to be used sparingly.
You have a choice. You can choose the life of an ordinary human being, and suffer a lot, and not see brightness and beauty in all things. But the world is wonderful; it's beautiful, when you are in a correct level of attention. In lower levels of attention, things are dark, gray. Experiences are shallow. Life can be very discouraging and depressing. You get old; things don't work out the way you think they would. You become alienated from those around you.
Zen is a study, it's a discipline, it's a way of life, an approach to life. It involves the active use of will to make things happen or not happen. These are the secrets of power.
It is early morning here in Boston. Occasionally a car is driving around the park. But it is still very quiet. Soon they will be up, all those human beings, going to their jobs, living their lives, another day of their lives. You know they are all unconscious; they don't know what is going on. They don't know why they are born or why they die, like you; you don't know. You are caught up in a process that you don't understand. A few understand it, the Enlightened. People like myself, we step beyond time and space, and we see a larger picture. Those who wish to elevate their lives and improve their lives come to us, seeking knowledge, seeking empowerment, and if they are good students we teach them the teachings of Enlightenment.
What is will? It's a decision. It's a decision to be something. We really aren't anything in particular. We can be anything; that's the good news. Everything that you are, or conceive of yourself as being is just an idea. It's an illusion. It's a hallucination. You can completely wipe the slate clean, and you can dissolve the person you've been, and become somebody else. That's the good news. You can have an uncommonly fine life. But it takes determination. You have to march to the beat of a different drummer. You have to decide.
Listen, no one cares about you. No one cares; you will die and be forgotten. The people who are in your life don't understand what is going on. You are alone. There is only you and your will. Your life can be horrible or it can be incredibly beautiful, it's seldom in between. It can be boring or exciting. Your active use of will, will determine what will happen to you in this and other lives.
Do you wish to become conscious? Do you wish to stretch yourself into the infinite, and experience not just this world, but tens of thousands of worlds, and where those worlds come from? Do you want to wake up? If you do, then study Zen and apply yourself to the study.
First of all, you have to assess your life. Ask yourself, what is it that you want? There is a world of deaf, dumb and blind people out there, who are shuffling through their lives, not knowing how wonderful life can be. They have their moments, and they are pretty people; sometimes they are horrible. But in either case they are very unconscious. You can be conscious, but you have to will it. You just decide. One day you wake up and you decide that you want to be different. You want a different life. You are tired of your old life. This is the truth, and so you will a change. You just make it happen with your willpower. You become somebody else, somebody finer, better, more aware. Then you will move from that personality to someone who is even more aware, and more aware, and so on. Or you can just stay in oblivion, going through your days and your lives, and your experiences, staying with your friends your family, and if that suits you that's good. But for some people that's not enough.
The path of will in Zen is not easy. It's wonderful – it's beautiful beyond compare. You will, in a day, experience more ecstasy and beauty than most people will in a thousand lifetimes, but you pay a price for it. The price is your will. You will it; you dream it; you decide it. I'm here in Boston because I will myself here. Boston is upbeat at the moment; it's a nice place to live. It's power is up, and it's an ancient power place. I decided that I wanted to be in this background and experience it. Life is just a play and you are acting on the stage. You are determining the backdrop. You are not stuck with where you are and who you are. You can change anything, at anytime. You can drop anything in your life if you choose to. If you use your will.
There are realms of light, realms of perfection, beyond everyday experience. You can know them. You can know the secrets of life. The riddles can be answered. But you have to decide to do that, and make that the most important thing in life. It doesn't happen to anyone who is special: you just decide that you want an uncommonly fine life, and you will it. You will it. You make it happen. It just won't happen. You are on a track right now; everything is formatted for the rest of your life. The experiences you'll have, the people you'll love, the jobs, the joys, the sorrows, it's all predestined, unless you will a change. That's what power is all about, that's what Zen is all about – the ability to change destiny.
Everything starts in the beginning; the beginning is assessment. The beginning is a determination that you want something to be different. You want an uncommonly fine life; you don't want to live in the slums; you want to live in a wonderful place. God exists in the slums. God exists in the ruthless killer. The Universe is a mystery. Who can understand it? But the experiences that you will have in this and in your future lives, will be determined by you. I can teach you things, but you have to want to learn them, and you will have to put aside some things in your life – habits, ideas, and ways of seeing life. And you will learn new things, and then other new things, and then new things forever. You will leave that which is familiar and take a journey. You are going to take a boat and sail into uncharted waters. Others have gone before you, or you can stay in the safe, secure, oblivion, in pain of ignorance, not knowing, and just die. You can just die, like everyone else and shuffle into another incarnation that won't be very different. Or the world can be filled with brightness and beauty, and clarity, poise, control, and ecstasy. We are discussing ecstasy: melting in the clear light of reality, the dharma-kaya. You must decide what it is you want.
You are going to buy a car. You look at the different ones, and see one that just fits, there is one that will give you a new life. It's not the one you have now. You just decide to buy it. It's expensive, but you just do it and it gives you a new life. This is done with will.
Most people are timid; they are so timid they don't take chances. Naturally they are bound. They are afraid of the light. They are afraid of their own power. In the land of willpower anything is possible. The ability to will comes from meditation, from zazen. Sitting each day, once or twice, or three times and meditating. That's will. You are willing change by that action, in that meditation you are finding perfection. You decide to be different, to march to the beat of a different drummer, to not be like the people around you, who are placidly headed toward death and oblivion. Your daily practice of meditation will change that, and by doing that everyday you will develop will.
You see, my mind is one with Eternity. I experience – what can I say? – everythingness, and nothingness. Realms of light are open to me that are closed to you, because I decided to do that. I looked around the world and I saw what it was, a horrible painful place, where the strong victimize the weak, a world of insensitivity, of people who don't care, of egos, and I said "Yuck!" This isn't it. What I see is beyond this; this is not happy. I decided to do something else with my life, and I willed it. I willed change. I decided to change everything: that's how life is, we decide.
You decided to be the way you are now. A lot of it is conditioning: no one asked what you wanted; you were taught a system. You were told that there were only certain options, and you had to choose between them, and none of them were very good. I'm suggesting that there are other options that nobody ever told you about. These are the things that mom and dad never explained to you, and your teachers didn't know. They weren't enlightened.
There are other possibilities, there are other ways to live. On the surface it doesn't look too different. You are a person walking around: the body moves through temporal space and time. But the revelations you will have, the states of consciousness that you will live in, the expansion of mind, the clarity, the joy, the purpose – that's power – the discipline, self-control, the pure fun of being your higher self.
Will is developed in meditation. It's refined; it's within you, but you don't know how to get to it. When you sit down and mediate each day, and you really try, that is the development of will; that is the exercise that develops will. Stopping thought is what you are seeking to will. When you can stop thought your will becomes complete. So each day, the battlefield is that meditation. You sit down to mediate and you take your fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour, or whatever it is, and you have a battle. You have a struggle to silence your mind, and the quieter you can make your mind, the more you invoke your will. But the very practice of doing this develops will. From there you will be able to take that will that you are refining and developing in meditation, and bring it into your outer life and will outer changes – changes in lifestyle, changes in personality. You can reshuffle yourself, you can make yourself into anybody you want to be. Whatever you want, you can get, when you understand the secret of will.
Thousands of desires flood the mind and you could follow them if you choose to. But they don't lead any place: they are just dead ends, cul-de-sacs. They won't make you happy. You want to have a beautiful person in your life, you can will it and cause him or her to come into your life, but it won't fulfill you. You can want a successful career, and you can will it and bring it into your life and make it happen; but it won't fulfill you, it's just something along the way.
You can want to be famous, to be wealthy; you can will these things when you meditate, and you learn to refine the power of will. You can do anything. You can perform miracles, but it won't fulfill you. What will fulfill you is the stillness of Eternity. What will fulfill you is when you can shut that little mind of yours off and stop your thoughts, and merge your being, melt into the Universe.
The snow is falling in Boston, and a snowflake hits the pond and it dissolves into it. That's ecstasy, that's release. The burden you are carrying around is the weight of self. You seek release from that; you want to let it all go. You want to forget who you are and what you are. You wish to be the whole Universe, infinite, endless. By learning to meditate perfectly, which you will do over a course of many years of studying, by following my instructions, or the instructions of another Enlightened Teacher, and implementing them in your daily life. You will find the way. You will make your life strong and powerful, you will learn to use will in your day-to-day activities to be successful.
Nothing is any particular way. It is your state of mind that creates reality – it is reality. It is necessary to will yourself to higher states of mind and attention, to experience the wonderful beauties of existence. When faced with opposition it is necessary to will your way through.
Balance is happiness. Happiness, joy, play, light-heartedness is the balance that will requires. Will must be guided by wisdom. Wisdom comes from introspection, looking inside yourself, probing, studying the wisdom of the teachers and the masters, and bringing that into your mind. Wisdom will guide your will, so that you'll use the will you developed in meditation and zazen, powerfully and correctly. But the balance is the happiness: the pure fun, letting go, enjoying the snowflakes, enjoying the beauty of the day, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning, enjoying the touch of some you love, enjoying being alone and being untouched, except by the Universe itself.
You can decide to live in the wealthy neighborhood. Why? Obviously, it's nicer, it's more beautiful, and it's more refined. Oh, everything is perfect. The slums are perfect too. They are perfect slums. But, honey, if you can marry someone who is wealthy, or someone who is poor, and the guys are about the same, marry the wealthy guy. I mean, let's be sensible.
Will is developed through the study. You need to study with someone who is Enlightened. If you are serious about all this, you need to aim your life in that direction. You need to be around someone who is a Master of Will. A Master of Will can teach you how to use will. You watch them and observe them use that will, guided by wisdom, with a happy balance. There are people whom you will meet in the world that have developed a certain amount of willpower. They have will, but they are not happy, and they don't have balance. Or they use their will just for self-gain, for selfish reasons. It's fine to use your will to get on in the world, to pay the bills, to be successful. But if that's the modus operandi, if that's it, then you don't understand much about the rhythm of life.
The rhythm of life is give and take. It's necessary to put things back in the system. To not do that is to foul your own nest, and to use up all of the natural resources greedily. To over consume is the lack of wisdom, and suffering follows the lack of wisdom. You inherit money; you spend it all on frivolous things. Then you are without it; that was the lack of wisdom. Or you may even have some wisdom and know the right things to do. You may have developed your will, but if you lack balance, if you are not happy with just being, then what is it all for? You'll become ponderous and heavy. You can get stuck in being wise; you can get stuck in having a developed will. It's very hard to get stuck in being happy – it's too loose a state of mind. That's why I recommend all three. A system of checks and balances, just like we have in our Constitution – legislative, executive and judicial – they balance each other.
Wisdom, will and happiness. There is a balance between the three. To become wise meditate on the third eye, between the eye brows and a little bit above. Focus on that spot: the Ajna Chakra leads to the planes of knowledge. To become balanced meditate on the heart center, in the center of the chest. There you will experience happiness, refinement, sensitivity, beauty, and laughter. To become powerful, to develop will, meditate on the navel center, and you will develop will. Develop those three aspects of your being, and you will have a terrific life, because will must be guided. When it's not guided, it's terrible.
We see wise people. We could go to monasteries, you and I; I could take you on a tour and show you people that practice seriously. Some of them are very wise, and they have great willpower, but they are not happy, even though they wear the ochre robes, and meditate for hours a day. Obviously they have great willpower to sustain the types of lives that they lead, but they lack balance. They take all too seriously. They can't be kids. They can't let it hang out. Then there are those who just indulge in being kids. They are too focused on the heart. They lack the power, so it's very easy for them to be taken out by life, to be blown around by the winds of karma. They don't have the will, the power. Nor do they have the wisdom to tell when happiness becomes indulgence, when it becomes too much of a self-love trip. We see a lot of this in the New Age community – these people who are all these happy bhakti, devotional types, who lack wisdom and discrimination, and they lack power. Consequently, they don't advance very far in the world of self-realization, in the world of Enlightenment. But if you work on developing wisdom, power and balance, then you will have an uncommonly fine life.
The component parts are simple. Meditate on those qualities, by focusing on those doorways that lead to them – those chakras, those energy centers. Find an Enlightened teacher and dedicate yourself to the teaching, not to the teacher. Devotion to a teacher is not necessary. Devotion to the teaching is. We've seen, unfortunately in America, and in other places in India, in Tibet, in Japan, great abuses where people are very confused and they think that they are supposed to love and adore a teacher who is Enlightened. That adoration is not necessary. What is necessary is respect. The teacher simply transmits the teaching. The real teaching, the highest teaching is never written down. It's only communicated in person from teacher to student, because it is "the transmission of the lamp." It's a transmission of mind. Words are used, but ultimately the teacher is transmitting pure awareness and consciousness. That's why it is necessary to see a teacher physically, until you are so developed that the teacher can transmit to you without you being physically present.
Enlightened Teachers will reflect three qualities. They will be powerful, but they will only use their power in proper ways, because they are guided by wisdom. Yet they won't take themselves seriously all the time, nor will they take you seriously, because they have balance. They have perspective: they can laugh, and play with life and be a child, when it's time to be a child. They can be a sage and a wise person when it's necessary to do that. When it's necessary to be just willful, to use the will to accomplish, to do things, to push things out of your life, to bring things into your life, they use the will. But it requires will to reach wisdom, and it requires will to learn to be balanced. So from the three, the will is the most important.
If you just have balance without willpower, the balance won't last. In a difficult situation you will lose your balance because you don't have the will to sustain the balance. Wisdom without willpower is a car without an engine. It doesn't go anyplace, and just to reach wisdom, you need will. So of the three, at least initially, the most important is willpower, which is why I spend so much time teaching people about power.
You need to learn how to control power, and how to accumulate it. Will is assertion, and you begin by learning to will small things. The first thing to will is meditation. Each day practice zazen. Will yourself, whether you like it or not, to sit down, initially once, eventually twice a day, and meditate. That will do more for developing your will than anything else. Will yourself to go and see your teacher. If you have to travel great distances, and you need the money to do that, then will yourself to be in a position to do that. Make it happen; work a second job; work on weekends, whatever it's necessary. Those moments with your teacher are absolutely important. They are priceless for you. That's when all your circuits come on. That's when your life is most alive. That's when you are with the master of balance, will, and wisdom. That's your special time. Make it happen.
Gradually begin to will a new life. Continuously evaluate your life and look at the places where you are losing power and gaining power. Gradually will those people, places, and experiences out of your life, that cause you to lose power. And will into your life those people, places and experiences that make you feel better, that give you a sense of bodily, psychic, mental, and spiritual well-being. Changes don't happen. We make them happen, because we decide to. We decide we want something and we make it happen. Will is the key. Gradually you will become stronger, and as you drop your past, as you change, as you drop your old personality. You'll become more powerful.
Make sure that you study wisdom. Read the spiritual books and try to understand what the teachers are saying. They are saying it for a reason. You still have multiple desires; there are many things that you want, and you will use your new found power to get it. To get those things, that's not right in most cases. It's a waste of will. Will is not something that we have an endless supply of. You have to discriminate and learn when to use your will. You need to learn to be happy. It's something that you will; you can be happy or unhappy. Happiness doesn't just happen. You decide to be happy. You decide to take a positive attitude. You decide in a difficult situation to smile instead of frown. You decide to stand up straight, instead of slouch. You decide to meditate an extra 15 minutes, and sit there, and smile to cultivate happiness while focusing on the heart chakra. You decide to take a martial arts class. You decide to work on your computer programming or whatever your career is, more than you need to. You decide to take a day off and go to Disneyland, to go play in the snow, to be silly, to touch nature, and to have fun with the simplest things, because otherwise your will, will become ponderous and heavy.
You must control your anger, jealousy, and possessive nature. As you become more powerful, and your will increases in strength, you will injure others. When you think an angry thought about someone it will be like hitting them; it will actually hurt them psychically, because you now have will. First, you are injuring a sentient being which is wrong. Secondly, you are using up precious willpower that should not be used for something so ridiculous.
Willpower is used in specific moments to reformat your being, to change, to shift, and to become a new person. You can win a crisis situation and emerge victoriously, because you haven't used up all your will. Jealousy, anger, and fear are ridiculous emotions that drain your power. You need to control all of them by being content, trusting that life knows what it's best. Accepting with an even mind, whatever is presented to you. Live a high life, a beautiful life, a life of mindfulness, where continuously all day long you practice mindfulness and refine your being, and your life. Constantly improving it, constantly becoming more aware. Wisdom must guide the will, and the balance of love, and silliness, and humor, and the appreciation of beauty.
It's snowing in Boston; it's beautiful. Here in the snow, it's beautiful. This morning there is an emptiness here. Everyone is asleep and the snow and I are keeping company. The Universe is endless. Enlightenment is endless. You've only touched the outer periphery of the endless still center of perfect being. Will yourself to go further in. Will your fears away. Control yourself, and abandon yourself to the ecstasy of the Universe.