Pivot 53: Focus on what tickles you

Basking in the feeling of loving others – or FOLO as I have been calling it these last two days – is so good. It’s a natural state of ease, of physical relief, of positive attention. When we are basking in FOLO, there’s not really much else ‘to do’ – our actions becomes secondary to the flowing, connected, in touch feeling state. It’s so much easier to forget about ourselves, and drop masks when  our attention is on that other being, in a state of loving.

If only…

Go on. Get it off your chest. 

If only some people…

We hear you. ‘…weren’t so unlovable’?


Think about it. The people you felt were acting in such unlovable ways: were they people you knew well or didn’t know well? 

They were people I didn’t know well. Acquaintances. Or ‘strangers’.

Excellent. So let’s ask you something. Is it just a coincidence that you only know (and know well) the lovable people? Or..? 

Or is it that it’s easier to love people when you know them? Yes.

In other words, when we are strangers to each other, our behaviours can seem alienating, jarring, unprincipled. Right? 

Partly, I feel it’s that some people are in a very wired state at the moment. Others are very, hm, neurotypical-acting and maybe I’m becoming less capable of vibing in that state as I spend more time in my own space. People can be really shocking in work communications… But maybe I’ve re-developed some sensitivity. What do you think?

Maybe you are being tested on the old skill of keeping focus on what lights you up, what interests you, what tickles you, what feels fun. 

But with work – and weirdly, it’s week 3 and we’ve all just normalised working from home, and the ‘special consideration for each other’ factor has diminished… possibly because some people are crawling up the walls trying to parent and work simultaneously – you have to give attention to whatever arises.

Maybe you are being tested on the old skill of keeping focus on what lights you up, what interests you, what tickles you, what feels fun. 

Haha. It tickles me when you do that. Ok. So, open my eyes fully to the ticklers, and give somewhat fleeting attention to the less-tickling? THAT would be a good skill. That would be a 180 degree reversal on some of my old ways. I like it. As my beloved Mum taught me, shrug your shoulders at the ones giving you trouble.

Shall we read?


Ha! It’s uncanny. Another chapter which speaks directly to the themes I’m running for the day! Here, we look at how it’s ok that ‘we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.’ The problems arise when we ‘point out anything in particular’ – when we try and draw attention to that which we don’t like or, I guess, make special/exclusive something we do. Being open and accepting to all that is – aka being non-attached – including that which we love and that which we hate, is to recognise that ‘in essence they are the same’.

ATTACHMENT, NON-ATTACHMENT: Dogen-zenji said, “Although everything has Buddha nature, we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.” This is true of human nature. But that we are attached to some beauty is itself Buddha’s activity. That we do not care for weeds is also Buddha’s activity. We should know that. If you know that, it is all right to attach to something. If it is Buddha’s attachment, that is non-attachment. So in love there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing. We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate. We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them. If you do not care for them, do not love them; if you love them, then love them. … Nevertheless, as Dogen said, “A flower falls, even though we love it; and a weed grows, even though we do not love it.” Even though it is so, this is our life.  … Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created; they are problems pointed out by our self-centered ideas or views. Because we point out something, there are problems. But actually it is not possible to point out anything in particular. Happiness is sorrow; sorrow is happiness. There is happiness in difficulty; difficulty in happiness. Even though the ways we feel are different, they are not really different, in essence they are the same. This is the true understanding transmitted from Buddha to us. Zen Mind p118-121

May I soften my inner state so that I am less dualistic.

May I be tickled by that which tickles me, and accepting of that which I don’t care for.

May I have that breadth, that expansiveness of vision to be unruffled by the things that trouble me.

May I have the self-assurance not to have to centre-stage my likes and dislikes, but to be able softly to put my arms round all that I experience. Like the archetypal teacher who roots for all the children in her class, the studious ones and the naughty ones. May I bring that kind of ‘rooting for them’ acceptance to all the things I think I like and don’t like. And, crucially, the people too.

May I know that all, in its infinite variety, is a part of the blessed whole.

And yet, may I magnify that which I love, in my own mind, for the sheer bliss of it. I feel sure that our capacity for love is important. If you love flowers and don’t care for the weeds, while loving all… you still do your gardening! You still pull out the weeds, and gaze in appreciation at your flowers. Right?

Exactly so. It is simply that you are less perturbed – or offended – by the weeds. That which troubled you about the acquaintances yesterday was simply that which lies unresolved in you. 

The ‘Poor me’ story? I thought I’d worked on that shadow!!

If you had cleared ‘Poor me’ in you, it wouldn’t have troubled or offended you when you saw it in another person. (You wouldn’t have run and told G about it.)

Yes. That is true. So…

So at this precious time in human history, admit that you like flowers. Admit that you love tending flowers in your garden. Admit that you don’t like weeds. Admit that you clear weeds from your garden. 

I’m guessing we’re speaking metaphorically here. I guess you’re asking me to admit to the things I really like, and to be truthful about what I don’t like. To be coherent and authentic, in other words.

Well, that takes some presence of mind: a) to be honestly aware of what that is and b) to be able to articulate it.

What a great exercise, eh?!

Haha. Yes.

What are your flowers? What are your weeds? If you know that we don’t vilify weeds – we just lovingly remove them from the garden – it’s easier to be honest about what we consider weeds. It’s about honest appraisal. The painter who uses all the colours on her palate so that none ‘feel left out’ doesn’t necessarily get the painting she was actually after. Look at your garden, or your painting, with the eyes of a creator. You love all plants and all colours, but what is the most pleasing combination in your eyes in the scene in front of you? In your eyes, dear friend, not any one else’s. What is your perfect flower garden, your stirring watercolour? What tickles you? What pleases you? 

You are the Creative Source in action. Use your discernment as an artist would. Create beauty, create darkness, create shock, create peace. Create whatever is in you to create. You will know, because it will light you up. 

Choose what tickles you, what pleases you, what lights you up.

Focus on what tickles you



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