Part 1 — The Dysfunctional Company

Imagine your being, this very body-mind-spirit, as a company, like General Motors, Ford or I.B.M. You’re a company with many employees and not one single employee knows their job title, job description, what the product is, who the CEO is, and what is their function.  To make matters worse each employee thinks that he’s the boss, the one in charge, and all the other employees are working for him.

To make matters even worse, the company is constantly changing. Employees are being let go; new employees are being brought in. Nobody seems to have a handle on why. The product is constantly changing. One moment it might be  automobiles, the next trucks, then ships, then planes, then maybe back to cars, and it goes on and on like this. And they keep changing the company’s name. In this particular company, the name has changed many times. First it was called Dennis, then it was called Sebastian, then it was called Genpo, then it was called Sensei, then it was called Roshi, and now it’s Genpo again.

The whole company is in flux, it’s all impermanent. So what kind of company do we have? It’s pretty dysfunctional.
Twenty-six hundred years ago the Buddha called this dysfunction “dukkha.” He didn’t use the metaphor of a company, but he used similar analogies to make the same point. He said dukkha means that there’s something stuck. Dukkha is often translated as “suffering,” but actually the root of the word refers to a stuck wheel whose axle isn’t rotating. In his day they had carts with two wheels, and when one wheel or maybe the whole axle wasn’t rotating, the cart would be stuck or just spin around in circles. Basically he said that the cart is dysfunctional.

So, like one of these carts, we are dysfunctional. The worst part about it is that since we’ve never been completely functional, we don’t realize how dysfunctional we really are. If we were once completely functional, completely integrated, completely liberated and free, then we would think, “oh my god, I used to be free, now I’m stuck, I used to be completely functional, now I’m dysfunctional.” Although most of us have never had that experience, many people have had a spontaneous awakening experience—some moment when they reach what Eckhart Tolle refers to as the “power of now,” an experience when they go beyond time and space and find themselves liberated. These people then realize, “my god, I’m operating in a dysfunctional way 99.9% of the time.” But if we don’t have that experience, we never realize that there’s a better, a more optimal way to function.
What the Buddha discovered is that we are dysfunctional when our understanding gets stuck in one perspective, when the wheel, or the mind, does not revolve. If we can learn to shift perspectives so that our mind is not fixed, so that no understanding is considered the right and only understanding, then we can be unstuck, free. By simply shifting perspectives we can realize that there is an infinite number of perspectives, even in a single room. If you slightly change the angle of your gaze down or up, or if you move around, you’ll see that there are infinite perspectives of this one room. Similarly, there are infinite perspectives of reality. Where we get stuck is in thinking there is only one right view. In the Buddha’s teaching Right View is the first of the Noble Eightfold Path. In our Zen understanding Right View is mu-view, which means no view, holding on to no particular or fixed view.

by Zen Master D. Genpo Merzel

Next: Part 2 — Disowned Voices

6 thoughts on “Part 1 — The Dysfunctional Company”

  1. I find this very interesting.I did your ungrasping mind meditation.I will try to pracrice it. I plan to use it for a GROUP>

  2. Genpo, thank you for identifying the I that I may respond to (all of him/them) LOL. I have recently been exploring ‘living life more mindfully’ and an incredible gentleman Dhreesh introduced me to the concept of Big Mind Big Heart, once he’d helped me identify (in a group of friends) the different minds that make up I.

    I am keen to learn as this explanation, alongside my reading of Howard Culter/Dalai Lama’s book the Art of Happiness: A Handbook to Living has expanded my appreciation of who I may be, and why my subconcious or other I’s sandbag me.

    Thank you for this simple and clear expalnation, another step on the journey to ‘finding peace in every step, and knowing why I feel and do what I do..

    I’ll read on now

  3. It sounds similar to “shadow” work that I did while in graduate school for becoming a therapist. Seeing these aspects of ourselves I definitely believe is important, otherwise we keep running around the same circle.

  4. if we start out as being dysfunctional and that we have never really been functional, isn’t it like saying man/woman is sinful? i don’t like the term. It’s completely misleading and wrong. One learns to develop abilities and skills through life.
    The Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli , talked about the discovery of the personality. We posses many. It’s like a building with many floors or a diamond. Which one is in the ascendency? Are we talking about a pathology here? Whereby we malfunction?

    • We are instructed to ‘metaphorically’ use the concept of ‘dysfunctional’ in this Big Mind “Experiment” to help one to ”compartmentalize” their own thought processes. Allowing one that is typically unaware of such mental dynamics taking place.
      Those that are afflicted with a wee bit of “Godaphobia” or recovering “Cathohaulics” may recoil in fear of being exposed to the Dogma of the ‘Brimstone & Fire” rants of accusing the wretched souls of All of being Born Sinners”.
      It is duly noted that you are uncomfortable with that dogma, and as well you should be…..
      I will assume that you have contemplated this “born sinner” concept, which is really about the fact that we are born Ignorant of our True Face, our True Eternal Nature.

      In time with focused awareness, one will begin to gain a better understand our own Within-ness’ and bare witness to the eternal Spirit within us.
      Yes, I have witnessed many full blown ‘pathologies’ in people that are way out of rational balance. By allowing their emotions and frantic egos rule their life, they live at the mercy of many psychotic behaviors.


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