Seriousness curbs your thinking and makes you stick to the familiar patterns that you know and use all the time.
Seriousness vs sincerity
All our comparison with other people begins with what we think of ourselves. Jealousy disappears when we understand our uniqueness. We may then create another problem. We may believe ourselves to be so special that we start taking ourselves far too seriously.
What is seriousness?
Seriousness is nothing but paying undue importance to something, at the cost of everything else. It arises from the inability to see that all of life is just a drama that is unfolding every minute. Seriousness is the result of over-expectation from life.
A small story:
Two boys were building sand castles on the beach. They suddenly had a quarrel and one of the boys got angry and kicked the sand castle.
The other boy went and complained to the king about his serious problem. The king began to laugh at him for getting so upset over silly sand castles. But the king’s advisor, a Zen monk, started laughing at the king.
He asked, ‘When you can fight battles and lose sleep over stone castles, why do you laugh at these boys for fighting over sand castles!’
All our seriousness is just about sandcastles! For the child, at that young age, sand castles seem precious, whereas at our age, stone castles seem precious, that’s all. Whether it is a sand castle or a stone castle, the seriousness behind it is the same. The object may be different, but the seriousness is the same. So don’t laugh when children fight over sand castles.
Seriousness closes your mind to the openness and freedom of life. It makes you dull and dead. It curbs your thinking and makes you stick to the familiar patterns that you know and use all the time.
A small story:
In a Zen monastery, there was a competition among disciples over who had maintained the best garden. One disciple was of a very serious nature. He took the competition quite seriously.
He always kept his garden neat, clean, and well-swept. All the grass was of the same height. All the bushes were neatly trimmed. He was sure that he would get the first prize.
On the day of the competition, the master went around all the gardens. Then he came back and ranked the gardens. This disciple’s garden got the lowest ranking. Everyone was s h o c k e d . The disciple could not contain himself and asked, ‘Master, what is wrong with my garden? Why did you rank me the lowest?’
The master looked at him and asked, ‘Where are all the dead leaves? A garden maintained in such a way is no longer alive! It is dead.’
Seriousness kills spontaneity. Seriousness destroys creativity.
Science has proved that when you perform a task in a relaxed and light manner, your thinking and decision-making capacity is automatically enhanced. The same task when performed in a serious manner dulls your mind. When you do something too seriously, when you are too concerned about the result, you are actually not allowing yourself to perform at the optimum level.
Of course, you need to make plans, and you need to think ahead. But do it with sincerity, not with seriousness. Seriousness is not the same as sincerity. Sincerity is focusing on the task with enthusiasm and youthfulness. Sincerity is giving the task your best without worrying excessively about the result! When you are serious, you don’t enjoy, you don’t laugh. How can you laugh when you are serious!
Be sensitive. Being sensitive means being strong, being aware of everything. Understand, being sensitive does not mean being open to everything. Being unable to say ‘no’ does not mean sensitivity. That is actually ego! The person who is not able to say ‘no’ when he needs to is egoistic. Sensitivity is having the clarity about when to say ‘yes’ and when to say ‘no’ and having the sincerity and courage to follow that decision.