15 Mar 3. Don’t be Serious
This is the third commandment out of 10, for the full list please read this post.
Fuck, do I have to be funny now and show I am not serious? Hmm. Or maybe I’ll write a serious post about not being serious. Whatever – I just start writing, we’ll see what happens…
Throughout my life I have always seen myself as serious when it comes to things like studying, work, delivering what I have promised and so on. But maybe seriousness is not what is actually needed to do this, today I’d rather call it discipline. Those are things I have no choice in doing if I want to have a life in order without struggling for survival and mistreating others. Why be serious and think about it over and over, why not just do it?
As kids we are generally not that serious, we are playing and having fun in the moment. Some would argue kids can do this because they don’t have the responsibilities of an adult. In recent years I have come to question this attitude more and more. Do responsibilities really have to make us more serious? When I started to drink alcohol me and my friends enjoyed being non-serious for a few hours. What a relief to be able to forget all problems and just have fun in a non complicated way! Perhaps you recognize this also from you grown up life. Strange. It seems to be possible to from one moment to the next snap out of this serious state and start playing. Forgetting this constant seeking for solutions to our problems, and live as if there were no problems to solve.
Many spiritual masters have attacked seriousness, so did Osho and so does my Guru too. Osho said the ego can exist only in the turmoil of problems and my Guru has said that we don’t really want the solutions we are looking for. What exists as the personal identity, the little self, is a constant activity imagining problems and working on solutions. If all problems are solved there is nothing for the little self to do, that silence would be the death of the personal identity. So therefore we cannot be satisfied with what we have and the solutions that are present, we will always be looking for something else and invent new problems needing new solutions.
I have heard this in so many ways and from so many sources I trust so that I don’t doubt it anymore. Seriousness is a disease and it has no actual function whatsoever. Again I am not talking about saying fuck you to the bus driver asking me to pay for the drive, never answering the phone when my mother calls or believing the bills will be paid by themselves. That is not a matter of being serious in my opinion, rather common decency and discipline. No I am talking about the general attitude of taking life and myself seriously. More and more often I am waking up from looking at something in a serious way, and sometimes even with a laughter seeing it was only my attitude that made it into a problem. The seriousness must be an illusion, how could we otherwise snap out of it in the blink of an eye like that?
“We have paid much money for this vacation, and now it is raining every day. Of course I am serious, it sucks…” You just created a problem, and now the problem is making it worse. Why not forget about the money you have paid and the limited time of vacation and just see what you feel like doing on a rainy day? I am not talking about trying to have a positive attitude, I don’t believe in forcing anything like that – it is also fake. Just skip having a serious attitude and see what happens.
“Is it really possible to never have a serious attitude? What about if my best friends mother just died? Sure I must be serious when talking to my friend.”
I am not so sure about that. Being present and listening to your friend is one thing, perhaps holding her if she needs a hug. But why be serious about it, why encourage your friend to be serious about her sadness? In what way does that help her to get out of her sadness?
I know the above example is one of the more extreme, and that is why I find it interesting. Some people are sad and feel like victims for years when someone has passed away and “left them behind”. Some people cry a couple of times, honor the memory of the loved one and then decide to celebrate life instead. For me this is the difference between trying to be serious about death, and just accepting the facts and moving on. (As long as the latter one is not suppressing feelings of course)
Whenever I am reminded to not be serious, there is a relief in my whole body and being. I may be worrying about something as stupid as if the weather will be good on Midsummer, being annoyed by some eczema in my face (happens when I am in stress, strange – which came first the chicken or the egg?) or over-analyzing if I should fly to Barcelona or just go to my summer house for the weekend. In all these situations I can wake up realizing I am currently in a serious mood, while life can all be a play. I am so grateful that I have seen enough now to know that whatever happens, it is always possible to not take life seriously. Perhaps you don’t agree to this and that is of course your right to be serious about it…
Most of all I am trying to Not Take Myself seriously. Don’t we all love people with self distance who can laugh at themselves? I believe it is healing.