Zen Tapes

Developing Willpower

Zen Tapes - 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.

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.

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.

Rama smiling with his arms crossed wearing a designer suit
Seeing is the ability to tell what really is.

The works of Rama – Dr. Frederick Lenz are reprinted or included here with permission from

The Frederick P. Lenz Foundation for American Buddhism.