'Life is suffering' is the first noble truth in Buddhism, but it’s a slightly misleading translation of the word 'dukkha' in Sanskrit, which might be better translated as 'stuck-ness'. Imagine a wheel stuck, with an axle that cannot rotate. That’s the state of mind the Buddha was referring to.

It won’t have escaped your attention that the world economy appears to be in a state of stuck-ness at the minute. As usual much of the media is doing their bit to intensify the gloom, and over the past few months, the markets and we have moved from a global economy in crisis to talks of desperation and recession. To a large extent, that is where we are all collectively stuck.

Step forward in the last week or so to Sir Phillip Green and Warren Buffet. Green, the greatest force in British high street fashion, announcing a 40% drop in profits, told people to cheer up." We need people to write the world isn’t closing down."

Warren Buffet is an entrepreneur and philanthropist with an approximate net worth of $60 billion. Although admitting he has no idea which way the markets will go, Buffet has a track record that suggests he has more of an idea than most of us on the planet. His recent comment: “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful", was an interesting one, but he used history to back him up. The Dow hit its low of 41 in July 1932, the pit of the great depression. By March ’33 when FDR took office, it was up 30%.

So why are these two bucking the trend? They may both be billionaires, and perhaps not feeling a pinch let alone a crunch like the rest of us, but they speak with conviction and a track record that suggests they are worth listening to.

Zen Master Genpo Merzel illustrates states of mind in his book Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way by way of a triangle. These triangles can be created for almost any scenario, but the one here illustrates what I will call ‘The Crunch Mind’. There’s always a balance to be had - a light with the dark - and then a state that ‘goes beyond’ the two. On your left is the ‘human’ part of us, the part prone to fear. On your right, the ‘being’ part, the infinite. The apex of the triangle is always the perfect combination of the two; it includes each polarity and transcends them, goes beyond. It is the fully integrated ‘human’ and ‘being', free-flowing and ‘unstuck’.

So sit for a minute and experience the fear. To do this you simply become that voice within yourself. Say to yourself “I am fear” and see what comes up. Feel it, and take a few deep breaths. Next simply shift your body slightly, tell yourself “I am no fear” and sit with that. Notice how different that feels. Notice how big you feel, how big you become. And then without getting stuck there, shift your body again and say ‘I am the transcendent’. And feel what that is like.

That’s where we all need to go next, neither stuck in one state or the other, just free-flowing. That is where the wheel is no longer stuck, and we all become Zen masters of the markets.


From Here is the city

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