Last weekend was a good one, with family and friends. I received one special gift from a friend.
The friend is the husband of a sister-like friend. It was actually the first time that I met him. He heard about my upcoming trip and my story.
He got off, left the room, and returned bringing this yellow doll with the black writing “Mr. Zero” and “0” on the tummy.
I smiled. I understood the message. The same message that another friend once conveyed to me several months back.
A lateral thinking process. To zero out. To live without holding on too tight to preconceived ideas. To be (totally) open minded. A huge challenge for idealistic folks such as I am.
I supposed this attitude is more explicit in Buddhism than in any other traditions. This zero out attitude is the basis for mindfulness, which Bhante Gunaratana has described in great length
Mindfulness is nonjudgmental observation. It is that ability of the mind to observe without preference, criticism, or judgment. One is surprised by nothing. One simply takes a balanced interest in things exactly as they are in their natural states. One does not decide and does not judge. One merely observes.
Mindfulness is mirror-thought. An impartial watchfulness. Non-conceptual awareness. Present-time awareness. Non-egotistic alertness. Awareness of change. Participatory observation.
Mindfulness actually sees things. It does not think about them. It registers experiences, but it does not compare them. It does not label them or categorize them. It just observes everything as if it were occurring for the first time. It is not analysis, which is based on reflection and memory.
Mindfulness sees them directly, as they are, the true nature of all phenomena. It reminds us of what we are supposed to be doing.
It reminds me of what I am supposed to be doing. What I am supposed to be learning. What I am supposed to be remembering.
“When you face difficult situations—or any situation for that matter—zero out. Return to Mr. Zero. He will be your best friend,” my friend said. I know he is right.
I smiled. I understood the message. Thank you.