One City

One City


Low Resolution

posted by Ethan Nichtern

This was published today at the very cool website The Worst Horse.
by Ethan Nichtern
INTENTION IS the most important thing, the true invisible hand. It is at the root of any action that creates a habit. It is the vector along which the heart slowly learns to travel. If you care at all about karma, then you have to think about intention again and again, because that’s the source code from which all our actions are written. It’s an ethereal force with very concrete results — the best hug you received this year, the best movie you saw in ’07, and a whole slew of clusterbombs all came from the immaterial truth of somebody’s intention.
“Why” is a crucial word. “Why” is something we seem to consider either way too little, or way too much. We trudge through the motions carelessly, putting the zombies of 28 Days Later to shame with our scripted responses to what life throws at us, never questioning why we do what we do, what values our habitual actions promote and reinforce. At the same time, when we do remember to ask “why,” we guiltily obsess over, dissect, and analyze some tiny misstep for weeks, years, lifetimes. As the pendulum swings from mindlessness to obsession and back again, there’s got to be a middle path.
I will be the first to admit that New Year’s seems to be the most arbitrary of all holidays in a calendar full of strangely constructed celebrations. It’s based on an ancient system of time that demonstrated a highly flawed understanding of the planet’s seasons and the solar system’s biorhythms. September has always felt more like New Year’s. Yet just because something is constructed, doesn’t make it any less real.
As cliched as it may be, for a mindfulness practitioner, a New Year’s resolution is a perfect opportunity to assess our path and set a “why.” What we do is a product of the invisible hand of why. So the question isn’t exactly what we will or should do in ’08, but why will we do anything this year. We have a chance to set a vector for the coming year. Now, zombie movies are fun. But to live like a zombie, chained to habit, lacking any trace of why? That just ain’t fun at all.
At a recent neurological symposium, the Dalai Lama quoted a recent study that showed that people who use more self-referential language (I, me, mine) more often and more obsessively tend to have greater health problems and shorter life spans. Now what does that say to you about The Big Why?
So if you want to practice mindfulness, make a resolution this year. But make it low-resolution. A small-file intention that’s easy to download all over again when your system crashes and you forget everything (probably sometime in the middle of January). A low-resolution resolution will help us return to the process, free from guilt-multiplying expectations.
Daily meditation and exercise? Sounds good. Somehow this keeps us in touch with all the other why’s in life.
Volunteering? Good idea. ’08 is an election year, in case you’ve been living on Mars.
More eco-friendly living? Yes, but: baby steps, baby. You could start by not using another plastic bag in ‘08.
A new creative project? Hell yes — as long as you have no clue how it’ll turn out.
Quitting an addiction? More power to you. But beware cold-turkey solutions, amigos. They’re the close relatives of get-rich-quick schemes. The main thing in any case is: question consumption.
Talking to Strangers? The poet and music-maker Saul Williams seems to think this is the thing to do. Meet your neighbors. Ask people questions. Say thank you. You’ll learn something.
With the whole world running on speed, a little Lo-Res might be just what we need.
Happy Arbitrary New Year. Have a good practice.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(3)
post a comment
Stillman Brown

posted January 3, 2008 at 3:16 pm


I like the idea of lo-res resolutions. In fact, I might just lift your list in its entirety (excluding addiction).
Point of order: I don’t think your comparison to the zombies in 28 Days Later is quite apt. They were extremely fast, adrenaline-fueled, cannibalistic monsters that don’t resemble you or I very much. They didn’t shuffle so much as propel. And they only had one scripted response to life: eat it.
Technically they weren’t zombies at all, but human beings infected with the so-called Rage virus. This gave them zombie-like qualities, but they didn’t feed specifically on brains and lacked that special shuffle. (see http://www.zombiedefense.org/ for more)



report abuse
 

Blake

posted January 8, 2008 at 5:27 pm


I quit drinking hard liquor. Baby steps for sure.



report abuse
 

cassmaster

posted January 10, 2008 at 9:30 am


i like these suggestions…. i think it is so important to not get caught up in black and white thinking. all or nothing. polarity…. but we do, esp when it comes to change, resolutions, self help, etc. this is nice, gentle reminder to be disciplined, yet compassionate and realistic. thanks!



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting One City. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Most Recent Buddhist Story By Beliefnet Most Recent Inspiration blog post Happy Reading!

posted 2:29:05pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Mixing technology and practice
There were many more good sessions at the Wisdom 2.0 conference this weekend. The intention of the organizers is to post videos. I'll let you know when. Here are some of my notes from a second panel. How do we use modern, social media technologies — such as this blog — to both further o

posted 3:54:40pm May. 02, 2010 | read full post »

Wisdom 2.0
If a zen master were sitting next to the chief technical officer of Twitter, what would they talk about? That sounds like a hypothetical overheared at a bar in San Francisco. But this weekend I saw the very thing at Soren Gordhamer's Wisdom 2.0 conference — named after his book of the same nam

posted 1:43:19pm May. 01, 2010 | read full post »

The Buddha at Work - "All we are is dust in the wind, dude."
"The only true wisdom consists of knowing that you know nothing." - Alex Winter, as Bill S. Preston, Esq. in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure"That's us, dude!" - Keanu Reeves, as Ted "Theodore" LoganWhoa! Excellent! I've had impermanence on my mind recently. I've talked about it her

posted 2:20:00pm Jan. 28, 2010 | read full post »

Sometimes You Find Enlightenment by Punching People in the Face
This week I'm curating a guest post from Jonathan Mead, a friend who inspires by living life on his own terms and sharing what he can with others.  To quote from Jonathan's own site, Illuminated Mind: "The reason for everything: To create a revolution based on authentic action. A social movemen

posted 12:32:23pm Jan. 27, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.