Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Oh no, not Zen again!

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Oh no, not Zen again!

    Sorry for starting yet another thread on the Zen GTD tie-in. It’s just that I read a lot of Zen books, and the similarities with GTD always strike me very forcibly.

    At the moment I am reading “A Zen Harvest” (out of print according to Amazon, but got it through abebooks.com second-hand service). Take a look at these, and then tell me that this is not what GTD is trying to achieve:

    “Be thoroughly
    dead
    While alive!
    Do just as you wish:
    All you do is best.”

    And

    “If you want
    To live long,
    Just work.
    Look, running water
    Never stagnates.”

    I read these last night and fell asleep happy.

    Just imagine, working solidly at what is on your lists with our mind cleared of all the calls of “What about me!” that comes from our files and from the people we are thinking about.

    Planning is where all the deciding gets done. As Rainer pointed out on http://www.davidco.com/forum/viewtop...8&start=60 planning is fraught with emotional pulling and dragging. But when the planning and the deciding are finished, then all that is left is the mechanics of the work.

    David tells us that it is beneficial to do the thinking up front. What an understatement!! Getting all that deciding out of the way makes the actual work a restful experience.

    Zen urges us to be as one with the work we are doing in order to peacefully be in the moment.

    I know that David will say that “mind like water” means that our mental work bench is cleared of all preoccupations and ready for the next piece of knowledge work as it shows up. At first sight David’s meaning seems to incorporate a dynamic sense of potential, rather than the more accepting tone of the old Zen teachers.

    But my argument is, once you are working, you are working. If you follow David correctly, your mind will not be hopping about – to the future, to whoever you are working for, to what you will be able to buy if you get a raise and so on – it will just be working.

    GTD takes us to a good place - I think Zen takes us by the countryside route to the same place.

    Dave

  • #2
    It's a martial arts thing...

    I first encountered the notion of a mind like water while studying Aikido years ago. David uses a lot of martial arts metaphors in his presentation and it's a truly apt construct. Being in a relaxed state of readiness is the antithesis of stress. The Zen state comes in, I think, when you are free enought to make agreement with yourself that it's OK to allow yourself the blissful "no-mind" state of rolling on the grass with your dog or seeing who can swing highest on the playground, you or your son

    Comment


    • #3
      All lovely, but...
      when do you do your planning.
      I end up doing it during my weekly review (the 5 hour review of death), or as soon as I start my ill-defined task (the 5 hour task). I'm missing something.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by furashgf
        All lovely, but...
        when do you do your planning.
        I end up doing it during my weekly review (the 5 hour review of death), or as soon as I start my ill-defined task (the 5 hour task). I'm missing something.
        I don't have the book with me today, but I do recall David writes about three kinds of work: doing work as it arrives, doing pre-defined work, and defining the work. Defining seems to me to be the planning component - taking the contents of that in-box and processing it, which for me often results in creating a task or setting an appointment with myself to plan a project in more detail.

        I also conduct an in-box processing every morning (just after I arrive at work, before everyone else gets in and the joint starts hopping). I use a PDA which collects all sorts of "stuff" when I am away from my desk, and processing that "stuff" is part of the daily routine. This approach helps me keep my WR down to a reasonable length of time (1-1.5 hours).

        Hope this helps,

        Claudia

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by furashgf
          All lovely, but...
          when do you do your planning.
          I end up doing it during my weekly review (the 5 hour review of death), or as soon as I start my ill-defined task (the 5 hour task). I'm missing something.
          To deal with this problem I use several options:

          1. Make appointments with myself for planning and preparing a task.
          2. Break down the task into small action steps, write steps on NA list.
          3. Avoid to work on all of the task's steps consecutively back-to-back,
          but rather decide on the next action according to context, urgency etc.
          4. Discuss the planning with co-workers and boss.
          5. Make a short daily review almost every day.
          6. Negotiate and schedule large buffers of time for planning.

          Regards
          Rainer

          --------------------------------------------------------
          Before Work - Chop Task and Carry List
          After Work - Chop Task and Carry List

          Comment


          • #6
            What a great analogy GTD and Zen!

            Daves post started me thinking about the basic Buddhist meditation practice called shamatha where you are taught to concentrate lightly on the breath whilst 'sitting like a mountain'. You just sit quietly, focussing on your out breath and allowing whatever thoughts to come up without trying to suppress them. You dont make any judgements about them either or follow them to any conclusion, recongize them for what they are...simply thoughts.

            So in GTD practice instead of focussing on the breath focus on the workflow, when you are collecting simply collect, when you are organizing simply organize. Allow whatever thoughts about work, life, projects that come to you to come and deal with them with a collection tool if you choose to, or not.

            Its not good or bad that you think about other stuff whilst in one part of the workflow, I tend to think thats just how it is, dont become attached to doing the GTD practice "right" the benefit of the practice, like meditation is in the doing.

            This all sounds great but it still took me a while to stop beating myself up about "oooohhh I wonder if I'm doing it right?"

            OMPH

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi w_i_t_n_a,

              I have read upbeat productivity books: Anthony Robbins, Brian Tracy etc, and easy beat productivity: David Allen, Mark Forster for seven or eight years now.

              Over the same time I have read a lot of Zen, and I feel I have a handle on it. I have achieved short periods of meditative peace and detachment, and can only describe them as golden.

              I would really love to know if there is a way to combine the philosophies of both.

              Some Zen writings I have read talk about being in the work in the moment (hence my first post on this thread):

              "Before I achieved enlightenment, I carried wood and I carried water. After I achieved Enlightenment I carried wood and I carried water.”

              But can we take on hard work and yet remain detached from our interest in the reward?

              Is it possible in such an overwhelmingly commercialised and driven world?

              I think it was the Dali Lama who said that he remains in his place of meditation all through a busy day.

              But it is possible to plan a busy day without an interest in the rewards of our efforts?

              Help!

              Dave

              Comment


              • #8
                Detachment

                Busydave wrote:
                But can we take on hard work and yet remain detached from our interest in the reward?
                Yes. The key is to observe the distinction between non-attached engagement and mere apathy or aimlessness. When non-attached, you still have an aim and an intention to act, but you do not harbor any addictive demands regarding the results of your action. Results are received as simple feedback which you use to guide further action and/or refine your original intention.

                You do not engage in fear-driven obsessing. You do not get frustrated or angry when results don't match expectations.

                You just do the job, and you keep doing it until your aim is satisfied, or you realize that it's as close as you're likely to get it and decide to stop.

                Accomplishing this in a commercial setting requires effort, because you must dismiss much of what you are told. Businesses reflexively seek to "motivate" employees by appealing to greed or attempting to create an atmosphere of threat. And although they love self-motivated people in theory, they simply don't know how to deal with them.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Can anyone recommend a good book on Zen @ work that's not too abstract or wierd. I didn't mean those perjoritively, but if you've got a certain mindset (like mine), that's the way Zen (postmodernism, feminist thought, etc.) seems.
                  Thanks!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Scott,

                    Absolutely brilliant reply, thank you very much for untangling the problem for me. !!

                    The detachment I need is detachment from the huge emotional loading that is thrown at work - both by people who want us to do well, and those who don’t want us to do well. The actual DOING of the work is always easy when you get down to it.

                    Your post caused me to remember a time about ten years ago, when the economy here in Ireland was in a slump and down-sizing was the norm. I managed to achieve a calm way of doing things in the office – I got things one, and I went home.

                    But this brought out a primal reaction in my boss. He reacted badly to the fact that I did not seem to be scared of losing my job. I actually doubt if he was clearly aware of this, but nevertheless, he was motivated to restore the atmosphere of threat to which was accustomed. As soon as I was really genuinely nervous again, he backed off.

                    I believe this did me long term damage, which goes a long way to explain why I find GTD and Zen so attractive.

                    Thanks again Scott for analysing my predicament so well.

                    Dave

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Furashgf

                      One very accessible book I own is a lovely introduction to Zen. It is called “Zen Speaks – Shouts of Nothingness” by Tsai Chih Chung, translated by Brian Bruya. It is actually in the form of a comic strip. Most of the anecdotes only last for one page. Several of them deal with the very direct Zen attitude towards work.

                      Despite the format, it is totally faithful to the original Zen writings, and lays out the individual teachings in the form of conversations. The text is brief and to the point, and the drawing style is charming and heart-warming. My copy has numerous little book marks inserted at my favorite pages.

                      I find that by reading through the six or so pictures on each page, enough time elapses to allow the argument to ripen, thus giving the final scene perfect impact.

                      Laurence G. Boldt put together a book called Zen Soup. It is divided into chapters with titles like “Be Here Now”, “Beginner’s Minds” and, yes, “Work”. The chapters consist of a couple of pages by Boldt, followed by pages of quotations. A lot of the quotations are familiar, but it is Boldt’s own writing that really captivated me. He presents a clear, feet-on-the-ground account of what Zen is.

                      For example, he tells us that the mind confuses thoughts about people, things, and events with the people, things, and events themselves. We have to get the mind out of the way, and just deal directly with the real stuff outside. (I have read elsewhere that the Zen teachers referred to the mind as a mad monkey on a branch that would never stay still.)

                      I have to say though that Scott’s post above is the single best account of Zen at work that I have come across. For me, eight years of reading Zen has finally “docked” with the reality of office work.

                      Dave

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Now this is scary. I went to a newsagents at lunch time with no intention of looking at books: there on their small display was "Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama" by Daniel Goleman.

                        Hmm.

                        Dave

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Busydave
                          Now this is scary. I went to a newsagents at lunch time with no intention of looking at books: there on their small display was "Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama" by Daniel Goleman.
                          Maybe simply a case of "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" ?

                          Rainer

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Zen at Work

                            Originally posted by furashgf
                            Can anyone recommend a good book on Zen @ work that's not too abstract or weird.
                            Furashgf,

                            there is a book titled "Zen at Work" by Les Kaye. I haven't read it yet, but there are reviews of this book on the web, e.g. at

                            http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...64767?v=glance
                            http://charityfocus.org/insp/clubs/bc/bc.php?pg=les2

                            Rainer

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Furashgf,

                              For another perspective on work try this text

                              WORK as a Spiritual Practice - Lewis Richmond (1999) publisked i nboth the UK and the US ISBN 0 7499 1947 7

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X