Monk and the Master: Part 1 - Zen Shopping

Starry Night - Lina Garzon

In the run-up to Christmas, there is no one better to advise us on shopping than Zen Master Genpo Roshi, author of Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way, and pioneer of the Big Mind Process, a mix Eastern Zen with Western psychology. But first as usual, the Monk.

The Monk on Shopping

There’s a lot of pressure this time of year, buying for the kids, the boyfriend or girlfriend. Things are a little tighter, too. The old saying about it being better to give than receive is true, but the reality of explaining that to an irate partner come Christmas morning is best avoided.

But it’s not wrong to desire. Desire just is what it is. It’s such a powerful emotion. Ask yourself to identify with the one who desires, and feel the grin on your face! You literally feel the energy jolt through you. It's so powerful, it can be wild and consuming. Now identify with the mind of no desire. The difference is incredible. It’s peaceful and complete. But it also isn’t very sexy. A healthy integration is necessary.

The fully integrated Christmas shopper is at the top of the triangle, like the star on a tree. It knows what it wants, but it is comfortable whether it gets it or not. Its elbows are less sharp, its heartbeat less panicky, and it probably hasn’t left its shopping till lunchtime on Christmas Eve.

The Master on Shopping

The Big Mind work or meditation allows us to become aware of what our real desires and our real needs are. In his final talk, Buddha gave eight brilliant teachings that we now call the Eight Awareness of the Buddha. With regard to shopping, I want to emphasize the first two.

The first is 'to have few desires'. The second is 'to know how to be satisfied with what you have'. I think these two can really help us in the marketplace world. We don’t need to want everything, but we can learn to prioritize what we really do need, and what we really do want. To have fewer desires. The major cause of suffering is not being satisfied with what you have, and wanting what you don’t have. Learn to be satisfied with what we do have, not dissatisfied by wanting what we don’t have.

So how can we get to this place of satisfaction and sufficiency? Think of yourself as the sitting figure outlined by a triangle in the illustration, with the left corner (knee) representing the self that desires, the right corner (knee) representing the one that has no desire (pure being, free from desire), and the apex as that which includes and transcends both of them. At the apex, which is our True Self, we can recognize the old patterns and habits of desire without having to be run by them, and we can see more clearly what we really need and what is sufficient. We can also be in touch with the mind of unconditional satisfaction that does not require anything to be whole and complete. From here we can appreciate who we truly are and enjoy what we do have, which in itself is a great gift.

Genpo Roshi will be at the Big Mind Big Heart Weekend Workshop with guest Paul McKenna at the Copthorne Tara Hotel in London on the 24th and 25th of January.

And check back next month to hear more about what Genpo Roshi has to say about sex and money...