What can I say? Every morning that I loll in bed past six a.m., which is to say most mornings, I am condemned. By whom? Myself, of course. The judge within. This is how it goes: I’ve slept well. Outside the birds are trilling their light morning tunes. Cotton sheets rub against my skin. It all feels delightful. Why get up and lose this deep savoring? I say to myself. The Buddhist principle here: Human beings cling to pleasure.
Swiftly arrives the judge in her black robe, ” All really worthy people,” she declares, “are up and at it by six, six-fifteen at the very latest!” She or he is called superego by psychoanalysis and other psychological traditions, simply the judging mind to Buddhists which also articulates another universal principle: Clinging to pleasure leads to suffering. Ain’t it the truth? For now I am no longer enjoying the texture of the cotton sheets against my skin, though I’m still in the bed. I can no longer hear the birds. No, I’m too busy discussing with myself the rightness or wrongness of my desires. Metaphorically speaking, it is has become very noisy in my bedroom head all of a sudden; there is an argument going on: Yes, no, yes no, yes no.
So, I get up. And then, if I’m really in thrall to the judging mind, I spend my shower time scheming to rise earlier on the morrow. Thereby missing the pleasure of the hot water on my skin and making a plan I will not keep.
What to do? Not just with this little nest of mental weeds but all the others that arise throughout an ordinary day: Should I or shouldn’t I eat thus and so? And how much? Why am I so tired and it’s only three in the afternoon?
The Buddhists and the cognitive behavioral people both would suggest that one, with kindness, notice: Thinking, thinking, thinking, judging, judging, judging, judging and, always with kindness, talk back. Use the three-column-method for the cognitive behavioralists, focus into the five senses for the Buddhists. But there is also another way, and this is the one I am choosing today. I am sending this description out into the world, to friends and students and family. If it makes you smile or chuckle with recognition, and as you smile you think of me with kindness and if I’m lucky, you tell me so, then…I will smile and chuckle too and we will all laugh (still the best medicine, after all these centuries) together.