Observe, don’t react

Western society is dominated by control freaks, but control is overrated. Most people experience their best ideas when relaxed into a state of flow.


Instead of attempting to micromanage the world, step back and observe what happens without your interference. After all, disorder is beyond human control; it cannot be grasped.


Not just that, but life and the world are inherently disorderly and random, which makes any attempt at control futile. We might try to control other people, forcing them to do what we want, but attempts fail practically every time – all while wasting a great deal of effort.


In reality, the best way to get people to behave reasonably is to let them be naughty, crazy or free. Instead of attempting to guide their behavior to where you'd like it to be, simply watch and intervene only when they are a threat to themselves or others.


It's like raising sheep or cattle. If you give your herd a massive field to live in, they're much more likely to exist in peace and contentment. If you confine them to a packed pen, they'll be tempted to jump the fence.


So, in life, control holds us back, and the same is true in meditation. Oftentimes, when we meditate, we attempt to control our thoughts and prevent them from existing, which doesn't work at all.


Instead, you should wisely allow thoughts to come and go, observing them as they do so. Remember, your efforts to deter thought are not appropriate for Zen meditation. The only proper effort here is to return the mind and concentration to your breathing.