By Lee Glazier
You can tell a lot about a culture by looking at its idioms.
Idioms are cultural musings or wisdoms that are accepted enough to enter into the vernacular. Our idioms are pretty dumb for the most part because our culture sucks. Most of them have to do with money, buying, selling, and farm animals.
So let’s take a look at some idioms from a culture that’s far older than ours, one that belched out not only Taoism and most modern varitions of Mahayana Buddhism, but Dudeism as well: China. Did you just hear a Chinese wooden flute after I said that? I did.
Zì yóu zì zài is a Chinese idiom that means, “Free and easy.” Isn’t that nice? Another great one is shùn qí zì rán which basically means, “To let nature take its course,” with shùn meaning to go along with or abide. Finally, we’ve got jiao tà shí dì—to step on solid ground, moving forward in a grounded way.
When I shùn qí zì rán, I jiao tà shí dì and this makes me zì yóu zì zài, ya dig? When it’s raining outside I can get pissed off about it. That’s, ya know, a viable option. I can think about all the things I wanted to do outdoors today, lament over this and that missed opportunity, yada, yada, yada; or I can grow some ovaries and accept the situation. Then I can find a way to make the most of it.
It ain’t easy to be free and easy. We’re literally hardwired (thanks to our ancestors who were hunted by giant hyenas and carnivorous kangaroos) to be uptight and judgmental. We’ve got to fight that shit, man, fight our own blood. But we can’t do it directly. That old Dhammapada saying, “Hatred doesn’t cease through hatred, hatred only ceases through love (or non-hatred),” is a kind of formula we can apply to a bunch of our tendencies.
We don’t overcome greed by greedily seeking to overcome greed, we don’t learn to take it easy by not taking it easy about us not taking it easy.
We can’t be intolerant of how intolerant we’ve been or impatient with how impatient we are—that’s not going to get us anywhere, dudes. No, the antidote for existential illness is always the opposite of the illness. So we’ve got to not hate hatred, not greedily seek non-greed, and not be uptight about how uptight we are.
Along with introducing the opposite, we stop letting this heavy baggage influence our thoughts, words and actions.
So if you feel uptight:
1) don’t feel uptight about how uptight you feel
2) don’t habitually do the things you’d usually do when you feel uptight. Those two things are the complete package, man. That’s the path of all the Great Historical Dudes like Buddha, Lao-Tzu, Jesus, and Qui-Gonn Jinn.
That’s all, ya know, easier said than done (Ha! Idiom). It’s the beginning, middle and end of a lifelong practice to chill the hell out and not take things personally.
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast from Golden, Colorado. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?” Feel free to check out his blog, Cluelessly Falling Down A Spiral Staircase (Musings & Misadventures of an Ordained Dudeist).
Editor: Dana Gornall