I would like to dedicate this piece to all those whose persistent, intensive, and doubt-filled practice has made my own way easier. As the desert nomads say, “I salute you and I thank you for your life.”


The single most pressing social problem today is probably the pervasive sense of disconnection, a kind of low hum of discontent in the background of daily activity, a distant harmony that can swell in quieter, less escapist moments and bring tears to the eye. Old separated from young, rich from poor, black from white, children from parents, friends from enemies, and ourselves, somehow, from ourselves. The facets of the jewel wink and taunt in those quieter moments, offering first this view, then that, none seen in absolute clarity, but felt like humidity, close and heavy.

Old values may seem inadequate and antiquated in the face of new problems while new values prove themselves insipid and mindless when confronted with old problems. To get ahead, many look for instant solutions only to wonder later in pain why they seem to be further behind. Solemnity is equated with adulthood while seriousness goes begging. Self-help books line the shelves right next to a tightly-packed section devoted to ways of getting rich at someone else’s expense. Why these two groups should be separated is a question only booksellers can answer.

On the home front, even though hard-line devotees of the past say so, it is nonetheless true that there is disconnection within families. Families seem often to have become nothing more than sets of individuals, floating individuals often so disconnected, so educated, that “connection” and “disconnection” mean nothing to them: are they not, after all, “individuals” and “free”? These individuals run like hounds to the scent, looking out from behind more or less intricate camouflage nets, for the greatest advantage to themselves. They do this in a society whose sense of trust and connectedness has been torn apart by leaders under the influence of big money, so-called special interests whose directions seem to have little or nothing to do with the desires and needs of a populace the leaders promise to serve. The breakdown in trust leads to an apparently inescapable conclusion: I’m gettin’ mine. Which is fine except that the malaise, that distant song, persists. Disconnection doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right somehow. It feels like a jacket that’s just a bit snug at the armpits and waist. Everything’s fine except. . . . Except trust feels better than distrust. Connection feels better than disconnection.

Disconnection doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel right somehow. It feels like a jacket that’s just a bit snug at the armpits and waist. Everything’s fine except. . . . Except trust feels better than distrust. Connection feels better than disconnection.

The disintegration of trust at the social level is sad because it means that the country as a whole is open not so much to “good” men and women leaders as it is to the cult of personality, an instant solution, a newer and more au courant value, a salvation in the form, perhaps, of a rock singer, an evangelist, or some other repository of longed-for trust and connection. It is a sad situation because it is so rooted in fantasy that it is bound to fail — people looking for “perfect” relationships and leaders where there are only people.

On the personal level, the longing for clarity and connectedness may be mirrored in the admiration or curiosity about the Japanese. It is not just their hard work and fine products, but also a sense of their apparent cohesion and steadiness. The Japanese seem to be a people whose minds and rooms are always in order where Americans may feel the disease of a person with too many options — a room full of wonderful toys, dirty socks, video games, one-night stands, trophies, but all of it hopelessly intermingled and confused, with no tradition of order to help make sense of it all.

We all love “freedom,” for example, and bridle at anything that seems to suggest restraint. Restraint means I might not get what I want when I want it. But when we come face to face with the human desire for “security,” we find ourselves in a bind: “freedom” is usually defined in terms of doing anything desired, of being unencumbered; but “security” often carries with it the sense of relying on some other thing — a person, perhaps, or money or power. But an “other” never sees things exactly the way I do. So there must be a compromise, a restraint of so-called freedom. Meanwhile, “freedom” sounds its trumpet from every televised corner, suggesting like a hip toothpaste ad that we can “have it all.” Having it all, when you listen closely, sounds very much like being God — a kind of willful, childish God who wants “everything in the whole wide world.”

And this is another sort of separation, though in fact not so different — the separation of man and God. Every organized religion I’ve ever heard about seems to say the same thing: man and God are not different. But many people seem to equate this statement with the notion that man and God are the same, an error seen activated daily in the “I’m gettin’ mine” thesis: if God has everything in the palm of His hand, and if man and God are the same, then I should have everything in the palm of my hand (the TV tells me so).

Spiritual practice offers an answer to the background hum of separation, but that answer is unlikely to be advertised on TV. In spiritual practice there is no salvation. Who, after all, would be saved, and from what? But there is a recognition of the deep connection that actually exists in all things. This recognition has nothing to do with churches, temples, teachers, texts, or with being “good” or “bad.” It has three characteristics: it is personal; it is without doubt; and it cannot in any way be “proved.” As a P.S., it is never missing.

While it is true that groups meet and practice together for encouragement and support, this matter is entirely up to the individual. Groups check pride and can invite laziness. Individual, sole effort is very strong and runs the risk of growing vain. Either way, practice shows the direction. It is not enough to speak of “God” or “love” or “freedom” or “enlightenment.” Such talk is just another form of TV-itis. It is only enough when each of us understands personally and without doubt: there is a connectedness so subtle and deep that it defies description. It accords with the universe. It is not the same and it is not different. Name it and it’s lost. Refrain from naming it and it’s also lost. But watch closely — close as breath to itself — and it will reveal itself clear and unadorned.

Threatening others with hell or cajoling them with heaven is possible but far from the best. The connection evident in spiritual practice does not create automatons praising one thing and damning another in unison. Spiritual disciplines may have that tendency, but practice does not. Nor is there an emphasis on connection as distinct from separation.

In spiritual practice, there is connection, there is separation, and there is connection. It is to realize, to actualize, this understanding that we practice.


To reach the core of spiritual life there is going to have to be a revolution. There may be a time for slogans and meetings, discussions and other pastimes, but there is also a time for action.

But what action? Good and bad deeds flower in their time, but to reach the core of spiritual practice is to stand in a place where “good” and “bad” find no footing. How is it possible for one whose whole life, from start to finish, front to back, is permeated with “good” and “bad” to reach a place where “good” and “bad,” “pleasure” and “pain,” “success” and “failure,” and all the other twins cannot enter?


Usually revolution is understood in terms of opposition. Revolution opposes the status quo much as freedom is opposed to slavery, praise opposes blame, joy opposes sorrow, and so forth.

This sort of opposition is all around us every day. Not long ago, I was in Greenwich Village here in New York. Everywhere there were young people whose costumes begged for attention: here an electric-pink heart appliqued to crotch or ass, there some sequins artfully sparkling from a single eyelid; here a Mohawk haircut, green in front, red behind, there a pair of iridescent shoes recalling nothing so much as a Walt Disney cartoon. Many of these marvelous people seemed to have been punished in school by having had to memorize the word “fuck.”

It was the sort of atmosphere calculated for fun and for telling off the past. Scions of superficiality might label the scene, or more monied versions of it, “revolutionary” or “unique” or, more likely, “very unique.” Parents might be shocked. And the small towns from which this Mardi Gras first came would surely be offended. As long as it hurts no one, I love it.

But as a revolution or even as particularly courageous, this is pretty small potatoes, much as an idea borrowed under the speaker’s name from The New York Times or Screw magazine or Karl Marx becomes devalued. Opposing or agreeing with others is just opposing or agreeing with others. A real revolution is the man or woman who stands on his or her own two feet, takes full responsibility for self, and goes forward. This isn’t easy, but, on the other hand, how could it be hard? Others may, and likely will, agree and disagree. That is their responsibility.

Training and upbringing are, of course, heavily geared toward gaining approbation and avoiding disapprobation, toward getting what is desired and ducking what is not desired. Many people spend their lives dancing this way, away from the one and toward the other, toward the one and away from the other, without ever raising the flag of revolution. As a result, there may be a feeling of being gypped: they’re doing all the “right” things and yet something, somehow, feels — what? — missing.

The revolution in spiritual endeavor is different, although at the beginning it may seem the same. No more dance! It is time to cut through the dance of opposites. Spiritual practice requires, in whatever form, that the participant “let go of both sides and give up the middle.” It requires that what was upside down be set right-side up — that instead of seeking things and losing self, the self be attended and things clearly understood. It requires a thorough and unfeigned satisfaction instead of the constant craving “to be satisfied.”

A strange matter, but true: there is a secret longing to go naked in the world, to go open and unafraid, undefended and unadorned. Yet at every turn another layer of clothing is added, another defense, another judgment, another goal. It’s a little like the Woody Allen movie in which the man and woman are talking together pleasantly while subtitles on the screen record their true feelings and thoughts. A funny sequence on screen, but not so funny in our lives.

Many fear the beast in their subtitles, the raging killer, the destroyer. Or perhaps the subtitles read fear of rejection, criticism, or anger. Spiritual revolution does not mean expressing our subtitles openly, necessarily: our friends would probably set us straight in a hurry. No, revolution does not mean doing anything you want any more than it means not doing anything you want. Both of these things are only more of the same — a dance of preference. Revolution in spiritual life is deeper than preference, deeper than destruction, deeper than name and form, deeper than birth and death, and deeper than any pain. This revolution goes to the very heart. If there is nothing secondary here, certainly there is nothing primary. Here is the place of true revolution. Home at last . . . right here.

Opposing or agreeing with others is just opposing or agreeing with others. A real revolution is the man or woman who stands on his or her own two feet, takes full responsibility for self, and goes forward.


Probably everyone has secrets, but when you stop and consider it closely, there are no such things as secrets, only people who keep them. Perhaps the secret is to be holy where unholiness prevails or more generous where tight-fistedness is the rule. Maybe there’s a secret longing for a lot of men or women or both to satisfy every sexual craving. Or uncountable money bringing power and attention in its wake. Or again one of the secrets of the self — fear of one kind of situation or longing from behind the veil for another, and each carefully channeled or diverted into behavior or thoughts or hopes that are somehow more “acceptable” to some other voice. Maybe a burning hatred, hot and lasting as embers, but hidden from friends and self with adroit, rational facility. Whatever.

It is fun to find out the secrets of others, but it’s better to find out our own. To find them out takes energy, perhaps a psychologist. Often it is painful. But it is a must in spiritual life — to know the secrets top to bottom. No need to throw them out or hide them. Just know them. Anything less won’t work. The only thing more painful than finding them out is not finding them out.

Secrets mean barriers, and bad-mouthing barriers, even with the sweetest of invitations to the sweetest of new lands, really is a mistake. Barriers deserve a place of honor, respect, and attention. You wouldn’t have put them there without a reason — probably many reasons. The fact that barriers may cause pain is no reason to assume that the original placement was in error. No, the reasons were probably once valid. Many reasons, many secrets, many barriers.

What is a barrier? It is that which protects a secret, certainly. But also it is that over which we trip and fall again and again. It is a limit to possibility, infinite possibility, our own possibility. Still, if it is there and if it has to be there, it should be cared for and watched. Just watched. It is not someone else’s responsibility. No need to criticize or wish it otherwise. Just watch.

It is to careful watching that barriers succumb. Not overnight. Maybe not in this lifetime. Watch anyway.

To see a barrier, it is necessary to watch where you’re going. Many people are so much in a rush to get “there” that they have to bang their shins hundreds and hundreds of times. It is painful. It is hard. But the positive aspect of pain is that it gets our immediate attention. Attention. Watching. These are things that work. Running does not work. Talking does not work. Thinking does not work. Other people’s directions and nostrums do not work. Watching works.

How to watch. With whatever your discipline — prayer, meditation, changing diapers — pay attention. Pay attention now. And now. And now. And now. . . .

Zen Master Dogen said, “To study the way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self; to forget the self is to be enlightened by all beings; to be enlightened by all beings is to remove the barrier between self and others.”

In the beginning of the spiritual effort, there is the self, a vast and secret-pocked land across whose terrain we cannot make a speedy passage. No one else can know this place. We go alone. To attempt to take any other with us is a mistake. There is no shortcut, no other way. There is only this way and it is very likely screened by a million million barriers, a million million places to fall and ache. Still, there is only this way. Any other way is false, a raising of a barrier where we had hoped to lower it.

Watching. Careful watching and attention. To these things the barriers must and do yield. In Zen, we sit silently with crossed legs, a straight back, and an attentive mind. The practice is awesome in its simplicity and direct in its effectiveness. Certainly it is not for everyone. In the matter of attentiveness, there is a gathering of strength, a gathering of strength that is necessary: for if the secret is to be known through and through, without fear or backsliding, burned beyond ash, strength is required. Other kinds of strength are not enough. With the use of drugs, for example, some marvelous visions may be had, but if the strength is missing, these visions will be lost or reduced to tattered, inaccurate recollections without the reintroduction of drugs.

Attention builds strength, the true strength to go beyond barriers, the strength to live full-bore and unafraid instead of hidden and maneuvering. At the same time that the strength increases, barriers drop. Or droop and sag. Or melt. Or something. And one day they are simply gone and the secret is out, loose in the world, free from the nurturing walls that once defended it. It’s out. But what is it? It doesn’t seem to be anything at all. And that is the secret. There is no secret to speak of, only the barrier maintaining it. The secret is the barrier and the barrier is the secret.

Miss the barrier and you miss a secret worth knowing . . . even though it’s not there.

In spiritual practice there is no salvation. Who, after all, would be saved, and from what? But there is a recognition of the deep connection that actually exists in all things.


It sometimes seems to me that a man or woman with determined spirit would certainly find the understanding longed for by concentrating wholeheartedly on anything — any single thing at all.

A T-shirt available these days says, “Life is hard, then you die.” It brings a rueful yuk, but who will follow closely? Two thousand years ago, the Buddha said, “There is suffering, there is a cause of suffering, there is an end to suffering and there is a way to end suffering.” Many people today are so rushed in their lives, so uneasy in their minds, that they may think of death as a solution or salvation. This is sad. The Buddha did not commit suicide. Nor was he saved by death. He simply proclaimed the way. Perhaps today he is putting out T-shirts.

Another T-shirt says: “Whoever has the most things when he dies, wins.” Humor is fun. It opens us to silliness, mostly our own. But stop a moment when the smile is finished — what are these things we covet? Who is this person who hopes? What is this thing called “death”? Is it possible for life to be easy and free if these matters are not clarified, if we cannot both laugh at and understand a simple T-shirt?

How about the graffiti, “Man without God is like a fish without a bicycle”? Here is a saying useful to believers and non-believers alike, both of whom fall into a similar trap: belief. But there is a difference between belief/non-belief and clarity. Really, what would a fish do with a bicycle? Really, what would man do with “God”? Exactly who or what is this “God” with or without which man may feel so lost? And who is lost?

The invitations throng and jostle, vying like boisterous children for our attention: floor, ceiling, stars, sky, sun, breakfast, country music, walking, 2:13:05 p.m., friends and enemies. Who can accept the ten thousand things, the ten thousand invitations? Who can reject them?

Or again, in the Buddhist tradition, there is the story of a man who came to a master and asked a classic question: “What is Buddha?” The master replied, but the man did not hear him clearly. What the man understood the master to say was, “A pair of straw sandals.” The man went away pondering. For twenty years he devoted his attention to “A pair of straw sandals.” At the end of that time, he broke down the barriers, opened up, and clarified one small matter: “a pair of straw sandals.” He returned to the master and gave his understanding, which the master approved. The two men then sat and laughed aloud about the original “misunderstanding.”

Or again, perhaps an experience of my own. At one time, I had the opportunity to ask a question of a well-known Tibetan Buddhist teacher, a drinker and womanizer of some repute. At a small gathering, I approached the man, put my palms together and bowed, then asked my question, I don’t remember what it was. When he opened his mouth to reply, I was forced to move off a pace: the alcohol on his breath was almost as thick as his accent. In what I would guess was about a 200-word reply, I caught only one word clearly through that accent. The one word was “Fritos.” Beer and munchies . . . ah-ha!

One Thing

It is possible to do many things, but understanding comes from one thing — this thing.

Not long ago, I was in western Massachusetts visiting a friend. The hills rolled softly out to the West and the corn was coming in nicely. A local newspaper spoke of the various issues that concerned the neighborhood and then, on the back pages, listed gathering after gathering that would help, nurture, improve, extend, or create.

I read these with some interest since my pipedream too is to have a small center where I can practice with others. Each listing was prettily laid-out. Each seemed to take a “not just . . . but also” approach. Instructor after instructor was licensed or experienced in “not just” one thing “but also” another. Not just Swedish massage, but also rolfing, shiatsu, and reiki. Not just martial arts, but also yoga, Zen, and Tantra.

I looked on and on, scanning page after page, hoping to find someone who could do just one thing. I didn’t find it.

To be able to do many things — innumerable things — is an undeniable reality. But too often there is also the reality of dilettantism and hyperbole. There is so much hate and so much greed that no one thing is ever thoroughly accomplished, burned beyond ash. Instead, the bits and pieces, the leftovers from a million million fires, stack up in the past, weighing down the present and clouding the future as the rush continues to find one more fire to light, one more way to control, one more way to forget, to succeed, to gain peace, certainty, and understanding. This way is like a drowning man calling for water or the man who puts out a fire by pouring on gasoline.

My former teacher used to say, “There is a lot of difference between just sitting and just sitting.” He was referring to zazen, the seated “meditation” practice in Zen, but he might well have been alluding to anything at all. Just doing anything is in fact the effort required to take us home, show our true nature, and place upright what has been upside down.

Once there was a master who was about to die. His students came to him to hear his last words.

One said: “Do you have any last words?”

“Yes,” the master replied. “I am afraid of dying.”

“But master!” the student erupted, “Here you have practiced diligently for so many years. . . .”

“You do not understand yet,” the teacher interrupted gently. “I am afraid of dying really. I am afraid of dying really.”

There is a great deal of difference between just dying and just dying. Just dying means no separation. Thought, word, and deed accord. It is time to die. Dying is this time. Nothing is missing. Nothing is added. A daisy is a daisy, automobiles are automobiles, you are you, blue sky is blue. Don’t be afraid — don’t ever be afraid — daisies don’t bite.

Attention. Watching. These are things that work. Running does not work. Talking does not work. Thinking does not work. Other people’s directions and nostrums do not work. Watching works.


If you want understanding and joy, you will have to give up suffering. This is easy to say and not so easy to do. It is not possible to give up suffering without strength. Gathering strength is our purpose in spiritual practice. We begin by paying attention to what was previously overlooked — the same thought, word, and deed we might formerly have never watched at all in our haste. This kind of watching refreshes the eyes and heart, filling us with energy.

In Zen, there is a very clear encouragement that goes: in the beginning, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers; then mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers; and finally, mountains are mountains and rivers are rivers. These words are not facile or tricky or wise. They are simply true.

One of the biggest problems most of us have is that we are geniuses. Geniuses know everything. They are scientific and correct, realistic, smug and lazy. Mountains are mountains, the genius knows. Mountains have height, weight, size, geological, zoological and botanical characteristics. If you kick a mountain, it won’t move. Such is the brilliance of the genius. The genius is the one who can name. For the genius, all things are two or more, separate and distinct, material and quantifiable. The genius is satisfied with these limits. If everyone else is satisfied (or dissatisfied), then so is the genius. Geniuses need company in order to reassure themselves.

But, to twist an old cliche a little, the genius may lose his footing when asked, “If you’re so smart, how come you’re not content?” For the fact is that the genius is not cut out for contentment, only for constant chatter, like an all-news radio station that drones on and on, adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing. The genius can sense that the picture is somehow incomplete, that it’s not the whole story somehow to know only the height and weight of the mountain, but is not equipped to fill in the blank spots. So there may be a question left unanswered: “Is that all there is?” or “Why me?” The genius can name names, but essence goes begging. Genius cannot reach the creator of genius any more than the eyes can see the eyes.

Zen Master Ummon summed it up this way: “Things are not what they seem, nor are they otherwise.

It is with practice that the picture completes itself. The practice is likely to be intensive and painful. Setting the genius gently aside, and with uncompromising attention, practice is a vehicle that provides the missing aspect. Practice does not require intellect or emotion, though in practice intellect and emotion are inevitably involved. Another teacher said, “One mistake after another is also true practice.”

Practice. Attention. Attention in meditation. Attention in prayer. Attention in loving. Attention in hating. Attention, attention, attention. Not separation, judgment, opinion, explanation — just attention. Practice one thing — this thing. Day after day. Year after year. Lifetime after lifetime. Don’t worry about that other thing. Do this thing. Don’t do it “in order to” — you already know that won’t work. That’s just genius stuff. Just do this thing. Do not separate and do not make one. Pay attention: do it! Do it ANYWAY. Genius comes calling: do it anyway. Sadness comes calling: do it anyway. Sex fantasy comes calling: do it anyway. Greed and anger come calling: do it anyway. Pay attention: do it!

This is the practice to which even mountains must yield, even rivers must bow, even I succumb. Perhaps it is a little like the “empty hand” of karate — a hand so infinitely capable yet devoid of anything extra. It is, after all, just an empty hand. Or maybe, at this point, it is the empty hand of karate minus the hand — a rich vibration of unnameable vitality, unowned yet intimate, extending from before birth to after death and yet most conclusively not missing right now. Certainly there are many ways to describe it, hear of it, and discuss it. But to be tricked by the intellect or trapped by the yummiest of emotion will always miss the point. As one old teacher put it: “My whole life I’ve had a great vow that I’d rather suffer the pains of hell with this body on behalf of sentient beings than portray the Buddha Dharma (truth) with this mouth as a human sentiment and blind people’s eyes.”

With intensive practice, great attention, mountains are not mountains and rivers are not rivers. The genius is still. The radio is off. It is a tremendous relief not to be a genius. Ahhhhhh. But there are many who get stuck here like a fly to the sugar bowl, traveling hither and yon exhorting others to find the silent bliss of emptiness, to remain immobile and blind and thus attain unending Nirvana. To sit cross-legged, attentive, and still and attain the holy ground. It is all very sad. It is like the one who kills a perfectly healthy animal because its head would look nice over the mantlepiece.

A saying has it: “Easy to enter Nirvana; difficult to enter difference.” This is an important point. To attempt to remain seated in some imagined bliss means that the circle is not yet complete . . . it is “OK for the state of faith, but not yet for the stage of personality.” You, after all, are you. In order for you to be you, me to be me, us to be us, the mountain must be the mountain and the river must be the river. When the mountain is the mountain, I can be I. Before that there is only the confusion and pain of the genius and the mountain forms an ever-tightening noose around the neck. . . .

Quick! There’s no time! Do it!

Faith, Hope And Charity

Faith is the great doubt-cutter, wound-healer. Faith comes with practice, with attention and care. Its most important attribute, that without which it would not be faith, is that it is not attached anywhere, either to name or form, nameless or formless.

Hope is most often that which does not allow what is hoped for to express itself. It is “enlightenment” blocking enlightenment; “God” averting God; “freedom” choking off freedom; and “love” fending off love. This kind of approach might be called the idealistic way and represents a compromise, quid pro quo state of mind. Only practice will clarify this mistake. At the gates of hell, Dante imagined the greeting, “Lose hope all ye who enter here.” He might have placed a similar sign at the gates of heaven.

Charity means that although faith is not attached, still I am attached; that although hope may be a barrier and a compromise, still I hope; that although purity, kindness, love, clarity, and forgiveness are more effective, I am in the grip of greed, anger, jealousy, blame, lust, hatred, pride, wishful thinking, and other forms of self-centeredness . . . AND, that with all this acknowledged to the best of my ability and with constant, vigorous care and attention, STILL I will continue this practice.

A Meditation
If not here, where?
If not now, when?
If not me, who?
Another One

Specialize in imperfection day and night. It is the only way. Do not weep for the ideal — that, after all, is only a compromise, and there is no compromise on the way.

Warriors And Monks

The samurai swordsman Musashi wrote, “The warrior cultivates courage without and compassion within. The monk cultivates compassion without and courage within.”

Courage means seeing things as they are. Compassion means understanding things as they are.

Most of us are neither warriors nor monks. Many of us feel that we lack the requisite courage or compassion or, sometimes, are filled with pride at our accomplishments.

These are good things to think about, but not too much. It may be good to be a warrior. It may be good to be a monk. It is best to be yourself.


If you find no better or equal on life’s road, go alone!
Loneliness is better than the friendship of a fool.

— Dhammapada

Many of us have spent our lives surrounding ourselves with fools. That is, we have come to rely on what is unreliable and neglected what is firm. What is unreliable is what passes. What is firm is what does not pass. The distinction between what passes and what does not pass is passing.

The business of spiritual practice is to actualize, to realize within and without, that which is firm. It may be a lonely, foolish passage, but, once made, we can stand free, firm, and laughing in the company of our fools.


A teacher may seem to be someone who is trying to pile up honey at the center of a warm plate: he may push first from this side, then from that, but no matter what he does, honey, you’re going to have to stack up on your own.


Time is quick. Clarify this speed.

Place disappears. Clarify this dissolution.

Birth and death are important. Clarify this importance.

I am filled with confusion and pain. Clarify this fullness.

Life is beautiful. Clarify this beauty.


It is nice to find some room in life for no-goal. So much of what is done is done “in order to.” Anything at all will do. Be like the imaginary hitting coach who might tell the up-and-coming slugger for whom he has high hopes: “Don’t hit the ball! Never mind ‘Zen and the art of baseball!’ Just don’t hit the ball!”

To be happy, it will probably be necessary to find your own ball not to hit. Keep your eye on it! Here it comes!