On doing
Michael Fisher

Hi Michael, it is really interesting to read about your early experiences as a guest student at the Zen Centre. The structure of the days is intense, but what an immersion it must be!

I share your views on the ‘doing mentality’. It is easy to criticize Buddhism (or any other ‘being’ practice), by suggesting that if the emphasis on doing is taken away, or just watered down, that human progress and development will slow. The suggestion is that the act of striving for success (to achieve some status or reward) enables people to achieve great things that benefit society (such as advances in medical science).

I now realise that Buddhism does not have a problem with achievement. If the intentions behind the achievement are not linked to clinging, grasping, attachment, then progress can be made (stuff can get done) in a way that is consistent with a Buddhist outlook. The research scientist who aims to make a breakthrough in order to receive the admiration of peers and monetary reward, isn’t likely to be following a Buddhist path. But a research scientist striving for success who is solely motivated by a desire to reduce human suffering (curing disease for example) would be acting very much in accordance with a Buddhist view.

From a practical perspective, if it is almost impossible to escape the doing mentality in everyday life, I can at least check my intentions more closely to understand what is driving my actions.