Developing Willpower

Good morning. It is around 4:00 a.m. here in Boston, on the 9th of December, 1986. This is a time when most of the world is sleeping, at least in this vicinity. Zen masters, a few others, are up at this hour—a good time to meditate, 4:00 a.m.

The world is still. All the thoughts and impressions and feelings are not transmitting from everyone’s conscious minds yet.

There is a doorway that opens at this time of the morning, between the worlds. It is very easy to remember things, see things and know things; to remember who you are, to see where you are and what’s taking place—and to know what it is you have to do.

I am here in Boston, and we’ve had a snowfall. A very light covering of snow has eclipsed the park, as I look out there. It has mostly stopped now; it’s just a light frosting. I can see some church spires of the older Boston in the distance and even further, of course, the tall buildings of the new Boston. Boston is in kind of a renaissance period now. Once, perhaps, the most powerful city in America—then it went through a period of decline. But now, thanks to the computer and other related industries, Boston is becoming a very financially powerful city again. And the mood of the people here is upbeat and positive overall.

Yet there’s still a bit of the old around—still too conservative, living in the past too much, not in touch with the reality of the moment. There’s still a lot of racism, and … there are problems. Human beings seem to have problems, I’ve observed. But on the whole, the city is looking very good. Definitely. It’s looking quite positive. Its power is up, and that’s our subject for this morning—power, specifically willpower—what it is, how it works, how to develop it, why it’s important.

Willpower. You have two choices, and only two that I’m aware of. One choice is to be a human being. To be a human being is to be frustrated, unfulfilled, and there are lots of them around. A human being is someone who’s bound by emotion, as opposed to reason—a person who is enslaved by their desires, a person who is never really at peace with themselves or fulfilled or happy because they live in the spectrum of the human consciousness, which is endless craving, endless desire. Pleasure is followed by pain, loss by gain, love by the loss of love, joy by sorrow. That is the life of a human being.

There is another possibility. One can be something other than human—human in the sense that I’ve just defined it. One can become limitless, enlightened, aware, awakened, knowledgeable and powerful in ways that the human beings who traverse this earth cannot yet fathom. Oh, we remember a few people who’ve been enlightened. We build churches and edifices in their names. We think of them as celestial beings who descended for a short time into our world and brought messages of hope or inspiration. But few people, if any, really feel that they could ever be like that. And, of course, if that’s how they feel, that’s how it will be.

Life is endless. It goes on forever. We go from one lifetime to another. And a change in lifetimes is not necessarily a change in condition of our awareness. Death is just a rest and then we begin again, but at the same level of attention or awareness that we had when we died. A person who is perceptive realizes that there is an alternative, and you may be that person – there’s a good chance. There is another way to lead one’s life, other experiences to be had.

Most of the world lives in poor or middle class neighborhoods. A very small percentage lives in wealthy neighborhoods. How did those people who are wealthy get there? They decided to. They willed it, or it was willed to them (Rama laughs)—that’s karma. How do you do anything in life? You will it. You decide what it is you want, and you make it happen. That is willpower. Willpower determines success in business, interpersonal relationships, health, whatever it is. All the activities in your life, success and failure in them, is dependent upon your ability to manifest will.

Now, human beings actually have quite a bit of willpower. They don’t know too much about it, but they have quite a bit. In Zen we study the will. We learn how to cultivate it and we learn to use it in specific ways, to accumulate will. It is something that you can accumulate, just like money. We use it to direct our actions, and we don’t overuse it or abuse it because that’s a waste. If you use your will all the time, then it runs out. You deplete yourself and then, when you really need it, it’s not there. It’s something to be used sparingly.

You have a choice. You can choose the life of an ordinary human being and suffer a lot and not see brightness and beauty in all things. The world is wonderful. It is beautiful, when you’re in a correct level of attention. In lower levels of attention, things are dark, gray. Experiences are shallow. Life can be very discouraging and depressing. You get old. Things don’t work out the way you thought they would. You become alienated from those around you.

Zen is a study. It’s a discipline. It’s a way of life. It’s an approach to life–an approach. It involves the active use of will to make things happen or not happen. These are the secrets of power.

It’s early morning here in Boston. Occasionally a car is driving around the park. But it’s still very quiet. Soon they’ll all be up, all those human beings, going to their jobs, living their lives—another day of their lives. And you know, they’re all unconscious. They don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know why they’re born or why they die. Like you. You don’t know. You are caught up in a process that you don’t understand. A few understand it, the enlightened—persons like myself. We have stepped beyond time and space, and we see a larger picture. Those who wish to elevate their lives and improve their lives come to us, seeking knowledge, seeking empowerment. And if they’re good students, we teach them—the teachers of enlightenment.

What is will? It’s a decision. It is a decision to be something. We really aren’t anything in particular. We can be anything; that’s the good news. Everything that you are or conceive of yourself as being is just an idea. It’s an illusion. It’s a hallucination. You can completely wipe the slate clean and you can dissolve the person you’ve been and become somebody else. That’s the good news. There are ten thousand states of mind, and you can explore and experience them. You can have an uncommonly fine life. But it takes determination. You have to march to the beat of a different drummer. You have to decide.

Listen, no one cares about you. No one cares. You will die and be forgotten. The people who are in your life don’t understand what’s going on. You are alone. There is only you and your will. Your life can be horrible or it can be incredibly beautiful; it’s seldom in between. It can be boring or exciting. Your active use of will, will determine what will happen to you in this and other lives.

Do you wish to become conscious? Do you wish to stretch yourself into the infinite and experience not just this world, but tens of thousands of worlds, and where those worlds come from? Do you want to wake up? If you do, then study Zen, apply yourself to the study. Study with me. Study with a different teacher—someone who’s enlightened, someone who’s outside of time and space. And we’ll teach you, if you really want to know. But you need to really want to know.

You have to assess your life. Ask yourself: what is it that you want? There is a world of deaf, dumb and blind people out there, who are shuffling through their lives, not knowing how wonderful life can be. They have their moments, and they’re pretty people, sometimes. Sometimes they’re horrible. But in either case, they’re very unconscious. You can be conscious, but you will have to will it. You just decide.

One day, you wake up and you decide you want to be different. You want a different life. You are tired of your old life. This is the truth. You will a change. You just make it happen with your willpower. You become somebody else, somebody finer, better, more aware. And then you’ll move from that personality to someone who’s even more aware and more aware, and so on. Or you can just stay in oblivion, going through your days and your life and your experiences, staying with your friends, your family. If that suits you, it’s good. But for some people, it’s not enough. And that’s who I address this tape to.

Now, the path of will in Zen is not easy. It’s wonderful. It’s beautiful beyond compare. You will, in a day, experience more ecstasy and beauty than most people will in a thousand lifetimes. But you pay a price for it. The price is your will. You will it. You dream it. You decide it.

I’m here in Boston because I willed myself here. Boston is upbeat at the moment. It is a nice place to live. Its power is up, and it’s an ancient power place. So I came here to make some tapes because I decided I wanted to be in this background and experience it. Life is just a play and you’re acting on the stage. And you are determining the backdrop. You are not stuck with where you are or who you are. You can change anything, at any time. You can drop anything in your life if you choose to, if you use your will.

There are realms of light, realms of perfection—beyond everyday experience. You can know them. You can know the secrets of life. The riddles can be answered. But you have to decide to do that, and make that the most important thing in life. It doesn’t happen to anyone who’s special—you just decide that you want an uncommonly fine life and you will it.

You will it. You make it happen. It won’t just happen. You are on a track right now. Everything is formatted for the rest of your life. The experiences you’ll have, the people you’ll love, the jobs, the joys, the sorrows, the way you’ll die. It is all predestined, unless you will a change. That is what power is all about. That is what Zen is all about—the ability to change destiny.

Everything starts in the beginning, and the beginning is assessment. The beginning is a determination that you want something to be different. You want an uncommonly fine life. You don’t want to live in the slums. You want to live in a wonderful place. God exists in the slums. God exists in the ruthless killer. The universe is a mystery. Who can understand it? But the experiences you will have in this and in your future lives, will be determined by you.

I can teach you things, but you have to want to learn them, and you will have to put aside some things in your life—habits, ideas, ways of seeing life. And you will learn new things, and then new things and then new things, forever. You will leave that which is familiar and take a journey. You are going to get on a boat and sail into uncharted waters. Others have gone before you. Or you can stay in the safe, secure oblivion and pain of ignorance, not knowing, and just die. You’ll just die, like everyone else, and shuffle into another incarnation that won’t be very different.

The world can be filled with brightness and beauty and clarity, poise, control, ecstasy. We are discussing ecstasy, melting in the clear light of reality, the dharmakaya. You must decide what it is you want. And then once you’ve decided, once you’ve looked it over and decided what you want—you’re going to buy a car. You look at the different ones and then there’s one that just fits. There is one that will give you a new life. It is not the one you have now. And you just decide to buy it. It’s expensive, but you just do it, and it gives you a new life. This is done with will.

Most people are timid. They are so timid, they don’t take chances. Naturally, they’re bound. They are afraid of the light. They are afraid of their own power. In the land of willpower, anything is possible.

Will. The ability to will, of course, comes from meditation, from zazen; sitting each day, once or twice or three times, and meditating. That is will. You are willing change by that action. In that meditation, you are finding perfection. You decided to be different, to march to the beat of a different drummer, to not be like the people around you who are placidly headed towards death and oblivion. Your daily practice of meditation will change that, and by doing that every day, you will develop will. It is will itself just to do that.

I live in worlds (Rama laughs)—I live in worlds that you don’t understand. My mind is one with eternity. I experience—what can I say? Everythingness, nothingness. Realms of light are open to me that are closed to you because I decided to will that. I looked around the world and I saw what it was—a horrible, painful place, where the strong victimize the weak. A world of insensitivity, of people who don’t care, of egos, and I said, “Yuck! This isn’t it. What I seek is beyond this; this is not happy.” So I determined to do something different with my life, and I willed it. I willed change. I decided to change everything. That’s how life is—we decide.

You’ve decided to be the way you are now. A lot of it was conditioning. No one asked what you wanted. You were taught a system. You were told that there were only certain options and you had to choose between them, and none of them were very good. I’m suggesting that there are other options that no one ever told you about. These are the things Mom and Dad never explained to you; your teachers didn’t know. They weren’t enlightened. They weren’t luminous beings that stood outside of time and space. They didn’t get the big picture.

There are other possibilities, other ways to live. On the surface, it doesn’t look too different. You are a person walking around. The body moves through temporal space and time. But the revelations you will have, the states of consciousness that you will live in, the expansion of mind, the clarity, the joy, the purpose—that’s power. The discipline, self-control, the pure fun of being your higher self—this is what I teach.

I’m a Zen Master. I’m an occult teacher. I teach how to become that—how to be perfect. If you wish to learn these things, I would be happy to teach you. But you have to want to learn them, and you must apply yourself fully. Then I will teach you. Attend my seminars. Listen to what I say and put it into practice because you decided that you want out. This is not enough for you, what these people go through—their suffering, the hoards of the world, the billions—in this or any world. You have decided to march to the beat of a different drummer. Will it. Make it happen.

Will is developed in meditation. It is refined. It is within you, but you don’t know how to get to it. When you sit down and meditate each day, and you really try, that is the development of will. That is the exercise that develops will. Stopping thought is what you are seeking to will. When you can stop thought, your will becomes complete. Each day, your battlefield is that meditation. You sit down to meditate and you take your 15 minutes or half an hour or hour, or whatever it is, and you have a battle. You have a struggle to silence your mind. And the quieter you can make your mind, the more you’ve invoked your will. But the very practice of doing this develops will. From there you will then be able to take that will that you’re refining and developing in meditation, and bring it into your outer life and will outer changes—changes in lifestyle, changes in personality. You can reshuffle yourself. You can make yourself into anybody you want to be. Whatever you want, you can get, when you understand the secret of will. But wisdom is needed so that you do not use your will abusively because you’ll hurt yourself.

Thousands of desires flood the mind, and you can follow them if you choose to. But they don’t lead any place. They are dead ends, cul-de-sacs. They won’t make you happy. You want to have a beautiful person in your life; you can will it, cause them to come into your life. But it won’t fulfill you. You can want a successful career, and you can will it and bring it into your life and make it happen. But it won’t fulfill you. It’s just something along the way.

You can want to be famous, to be wealthy. You can will these things when you meditate and you learn to refine the power of will. You can do anything. You can perform miracles, but it won’t fulfill you. What will fulfill you is the stillness of eternity. What will fulfill you is when you can shut that little mind of yours off and stop your thoughts and merge your being, melt into the universe.

The snow is falling in Boston, and a snowflake hits the pond and it dissolves into it. That is ecstasy; that’s release. The burden you are carrying around, the weight, is the burden of self. You seek release from that. You want to let it all go. You want to forget who you are and what you are. You wish to be the whole universe, infinite, endless. By learning to meditate perfectly, which you will do over a course of many, many years of study; by following my instructions, or the instructions of another enlightened teacher and implementing them in your daily life, you will find the way. You will make your life strong and powerful. You will learn to use will in your day-to-day activities to be successful. You will learn how to gain power in life and how to avoid losing it.

Will is a state of mind. You are born alone and you die alone. We live inside our mind. That’s all there is. Everything that you experience is not external, it’s internal. All your experiences are predicated upon your awareness field. If your awareness is happy and luminous, then no matter where you are, everything is wonderful. You can be in the darkest place and it will be wonderful. If your awareness field is dark and heavy, then you can be in a wonderful place, but it will be dark and heavy.

Nothing is any particular way. It’s your state of mind that creates reality—it is reality. So it’s necessary to will yourself into higher states of mind and attention to experience the wonderful beauties of existence. When faced with opposition, it’s necessary to will your way through.

Balance is happiness. Happiness, joy, frivolity, play, light-heartedness is the balance that will requires. Will is guided by wisdom. Wisdom comes from introspection, looking inside yourself, probing, studying the wisdom of the teachers and the masters and bringing that into your mind. Wisdom will guide your will so that you’ll use the will you developed in meditation and zazen, this powerful will, correctly. But the balance is the happiness—the pure fun, letting go, enjoying the snowflakes, enjoying the beauty of the day, enjoying a cup of tea in the morning, enjoying the touch of someone you love, enjoying being alone and being untouched, except by the universe itself.

The body comes and goes. This life, my friend, will come and go. It is a fleeting moment, an impulse in an eternal reality. I see the eternal reality. I am one with it. You are not that aware of it yet. But if you use this fleeting lifetime, if you employ it to develop your will to become wise and to achieve a happy balance, not wanting too much, being satisfied with what comes along, not being greedy—self-control creates happiness. Learn to be happy in any and all circumstances, whether you’re experiencing pleasure or pain, whether there’s loss or gain, whether the world loves you or hates you—learn to be happy. Happiness is not dependent upon the externals. It’s a warm puppy. It’s a moment.

The three elements are will, which is power; wisdom, which is necessary to guide power, otherwise power can run to extremes and become abusive and self-destructive; and balance, which is happiness. Just living in the moment for the hell of it. Having a wonderful time just breathing. Being. You can decide to live in the wealthy neighborhood. Why? Obviously, it’s nicer, it’s more beautiful, it’s more refined. Oh! everything is perfect. The slums are perfect too. They are perfect slums. But honey, if you can marry somebody who’s wealthy or somebody who’s poor and the guys are about the same, marry the wealthy guy. I mean, let’s be sensible.

Will is developed through the study. You need to study with someone who is enlightened, if you are serious about all this, and aim your life in that direction. You need to be around someone, to go to zazen sessions with someone, who is a master of will. A master of will can teach you how to use will. You watch them and observe them use that will, guided by wisdom, with a happy balance. There are people you will meet in the world who have developed a certain amount of willpower. They have will, but they’re not happy. They don’t have balance. Or they use their will just for self-gain, for selfish reasons. It is fine to use your will to get on in the world, to pay the bills, to be successful. But if that’s the modus operandi, if that’s it, then you don’t understand too much about the rhythm of life.

The rhythm of life is give and take. It’s necessary to put things back in the system. To not do that is to foul your own nest, to use up all the natural resources greedily. To over-consume is the lack of wisdom, and suffering follows the lack of wisdom. You inherit money; you spend it all on frivolous things. Then you’re without it. That was the lack of wisdom. Or, you may even have some wisdom and know right things to do. And you may have developed your will. But if you lack balance, if you’re not happy with just being, then what’s it all for? You’ll become ponderous and heavy.

You can get stuck in being wise. You can get stuck in having a developed will. It is very hard to get stuck in being happy—it’s too lucid a state of mind. That is why I recommend all three. A system of checks and balances, just as we have in our Constitution—legislative, executive and judicial—they balance each other.

Wisdom; will; and happiness, contentment, a sense of humor—there’s a balance there between the three. To become wise, meditate on the third eye, between the eyebrows and a little bit above. Focus on that spot, the agni chakra. It leads to the planes of knowledge. Do that. To become balanced, meditate on the heart center in the center of the chest. There you will experience happiness, refinement, sensitivity, beauty, laughter. To become powerful, to develop will, meditate on the navel center, and you will develop will. Don’t just meditate on one. One day meditate on one. On another [day] another. Develop those three aspects of your being and you will have a terrific life because will must be guided. When it’s not guided, it’s terrible. Hitler had a lot of will. But he used it for destructive purposes because he lacked wisdom.

We see wise people. We could go to monasteries, you and I. I could take you on a tour and show you monasteries where people practice seriously. And some of them are very wise and they have great willpower, but they’re not happy. Isn’t it funny? Even though they wear the ochre robes, meditate for hours a day, obviously have great willpower to sustain the types of lives that they lead, they lack balance. They take it all too seriously. They can’t be kids. They can’t let it hang out.

Then there are those who just indulge in being kids. They are too focused in the heart. They lack power, so it’s very easy for them to be taken out by life, to be blown around by the winds of karma. They don’t have the will, the power. Nor do they have the wisdom to tell when happiness becomes indulgence, when it becomes too much of a self-love trip. We see a lot of this in the New Age community—these people who are all these sort of happy, bhakti, devotional types who lack wisdom and discrimination, and they lack power. So consequently, they don’t advance very far in the world of self-realization, in the world of enlightenment. But if you work on developing wisdom, power and balance, then you will have an uncommonly fine life.

The component parts are simple—to meditate on those qualities by focusing on those doorways that lead to them, those chakras, those energy centers; to find an enlightened teacher and dedicate yourself to the teaching, not the teacher. Devotion to a teacher is not necessary. Devotion to the teaching is. We have seen, unfortunately, in America and in other places, in India, in Tibet, in Japan, great abuses where people are very confused and they think that they’re supposed to love and adore a teacher who’s enlightened. That adoration is not necessary. What is necessary is respect.

The teacher simply transmits the teaching. The teaching—the real teaching, the highest teaching—is never written down. It’s only communicated in person from teacher to student because it’s a “transmission of the lamp.” It’s a transmission of mind. Words are used. But ultimately, the teacher is transmitting pure awareness and consciousness. That is why it’s necessary to see a teacher physically, until, of course, you’re so developed, the teacher can transmit to you without you being physically present.

The teacher—the enlightened teacher—will reflect those three qualities. They will be powerful, but they will only use their power in proper ways because they will be guided by wisdom. Yet they won’t take themselves seriously all the time, nor will they take you seriously, because they have balance. They have perspective. They can laugh, and play with life, and be a child when it’s time to be a child. They can be a sage and a wise person when it’s necessary to do that. And when it’s necessary to just be willful, to use the will to accomplish, to change things, to push things out of your life, to bring things into your life, they use the will. But it requires will to reach wisdom, and it requires will to learn to be balanced. So of the three, the will is the most important.

Just to have balance without willpower—the balance won’t last. In a difficult situation, you’ll lose your balance because you don’t have the will to sustain the balance. Wisdom without willpower is a car without an engine. It doesn’t go anyplace. And just to reach wisdom, you need will. So of the three, at least initially, the most important is will, power. Which is why I spend so much time teaching people about power. People want to learn about love. They want to learn about wisdom. That’s fine in its time and place. And I teach those things along the way.

You need to learn how to control power, how to accumulate it. Will is assertion, and you begin by learning to will small things. The first thing to will is meditation. Each day practice zazen. Will yourself—whether you like it or not—to sit down, initially once and eventually twice a day, and meditate. That will do more for developing your will than anything else. Will yourself to go and see your teacher. Make it happen. If you have to travel great distances and you need the money to do that, will yourself into a position to get the money to do that. Make it happen. Work a second job, work on weekends, do whatever is necessary. Those moments with your teacher are absolutely important. They are priceless for you. That is when all your circuits come on. That is when your life is most alive. That is when you’re with the master of balance, will and wisdom. That is your special time. Make it happen.

Gradually begin to will a new life. Continuously evaluate your life and look at the places where you are losing power and gaining power. Gradually will those people, places and experiences out of your life that cause you to lose power. Will into your life those people, places and experiences that make you feel better, that give you a sense of bodily, psychic, mental and spiritual well-being.

Changes don’t happen. We make them happen because we decide to. We decide we want something and we make it happen. Will is the key. Gradually you’ll become stronger. As you drop your past, as you change, as you drop your old personality, you’ll become more powerful.

Make sure that you study wisdom. Read the spiritual books. Try to understand what the teachers are saying. They are saying it for a reason. You still have multifarious desires. There are many things that you want, and you will use your newfound power to get those things. That is not right in most cases. It is a waste of will. Will is not something that you have an endless supply of. You have to discriminate and learn when to use your will.

You need to learn to be happy. It is something that you will. You can be unhappy or happy. Happiness doesn’t just happen. You decide to be happy. You decide to take a positive attitude. You decide in a difficult situation to smile instead of frown. You decide to stand up straight instead of slouch. You decide to meditate an extra 15 minutes and sit there, and just smile the whole time to cultivate happiness while focusing on the heart chakra. You decide to take a martial arts class. You decide to work on your computer programming or whatever your career is, more than you need to. You decide to take a day off and go to Disneyland, to go play in the snow, to be silly, to touch nature, to have fun with the simplest things—because otherwise, your will will become ponderous and heavy.

You must control your anger and jealousy and possessive nature. Because as you become more powerful and your will increases in strength, you will injure others. When you think an angry thought about someone, it’s like hitting them. It will actually hurt them psychically because you now have will. One, you’re injuring a sentient being, which is wrong. Secondly, you’re using up precious willpower that shouldn’t be used for something so ridiculous. That willpower is used at specific moments to reformat your being, to change, to shift, to become a new person, to—in a crisis situation—emerge victoriously because you haven’t used up all your will.

Jealousy, anger, fear—these are ridiculous emotions that drain your power. You need to control them by being content, trusting that life knows what is best, accepting with an even mind whatever is presented to you. If your mind rages and your emotions go crazy—being patient and calming the storm. [Leading] a high life, a beautiful life, a life of mindfulness, where, continuously—all day long—you practice mindfulness and refine your being and your life, constantly improving it, constantly becoming more aware. Wisdom must guide the will, and the balance of love and silliness and humor and the appreciation of beauty ennoble the will and the spirit.

This is Zen Master Rama. It is snowing in Boston. It is beautiful. Here, in the snow, it’s beautiful. This morning there’s an emptiness here. Everyone is asleep and the snow and I are keeping company. The universe is endless. Enlightenment is endless. You have only touched the outer periphery of the endless still center of perfect being. Will yourself to go further in. Will your fears away. Control yourself and abandon yourself to the ecstasy of the universe.