An Ordinary Mind is The Way

Author Charles Yeung
Translated by Soula Lo

When the monk Zhao Zhou studied with Master Nan Quan, he asked Master Nan Quan, What is The Way? Master Nan Quan answered, “An ordinary mind is The Way.” This is the origin of the allusion. It has also become a publically recognized case record for searching The Way, practicing The Way, realizing The Way for hundreds of years.

In real life, people often need to bear great pressure, but how to bear it without falling apart? One of the wise ways is to deal with it with an ordinary mind.

In daily life or at the workplace, most people are influenced by fame and profit, personal gains and losses all the time. We constantly busy ourselves for reputation, benefits, and higher positions, because in the 21st century, the global economy is highly competitive. If we aren’t careful, it is easy to be eliminated. Since we are afraid of being eliminated, afraid of losing jobs, losing money, losing reputation, it naturally makes us feel nervous and we endure great pressure. Feeling tense and stressed for a long period of time is unhealthy to body and mind. How to face the pressure from work and daily life and reduce the stress in our mind? According to the case study in history and society, using an ordinary mind to deal with it is actually the best way.

What is an ordinary mind? It is with the right attitude to deal with daily life and daily work, being practical and sticking to the facts, no more, no less. Do our best with a clear conscience, because we believe in “Man proposes God disposes.” Everything that happens has a reason, so it is useless to worry and be anxious.

When we achieve success, don’t become overjoyed, because it only means we didn’t waste our efforts in the past. Heaven and society recognize our work, so after a success, we still need to strive continually in order to gain success again. Be grateful that the success in the past provided us some experiences, offered us some references, and gave us more confidence towards the future.

When we fail, we don’t need to be too sad, because it reminds us there were many insufficiencies and mistakes in our work in the past. We need to correct them promptly; otherwise the loss would be even bigger. If we can analyze the situation, recognize the mistakes, sincerely repent, humbly asking for advice, and correct them promptly, then we can put our failure in control.

Thus, an ordinary mind means to try to maintain a kind of balanced mind at all times, not too excited, not too sad. An ancient said, “Do not feel delighted by the external gains or saddened by one’s personal losses.” This means, “Not feeling exultation because of gaining something, not feeling miserable because of losing something or reputation.”

Someone might ask, “Wouldn’t that be too pessimistic or too reactive?” We would say, no. An ancient said, “A high position officer should care for commoners, a commoner in remote countryside should pay close attention to his government.” That is to say, as a human being, we should have an ideal and goals. What is the appropriate ideal and goals? When you are a leader in society, you should consider more for society and the general public; when you are a commoner, you should make greater effort for your country and society. Only this way, we wouldn’t worry about personal gains and losses, and our mind would be optimistic and open. Our life would be substantial, interesting and happy. We would plan and worry ahead of people, and enjoy the fruits after people; that means to bear hardship before the people, and enjoy happiness after people.

As the common saying said, “Cultivating without asking for harvest, do our best with a clear conscience.” This is the way we should live our life.


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