What I mean by “Everything counts, but nothing matters”
A long-time friend of mine, Mike Zerbel, asked me about a particular point in the teaching, and here is my answer. You’re welcome to partake as well.
“Everything counts, but nothing matters” is the mantra I live by and heartily recommend. Betsy and I swear by it, as do many of my clients. Here’s what I mean by that.
Within our dreamed experience of relativity, everything we do, everything that happens counts. Within the dream, which is our daily experience as apparent human beings, how we treat each other counts. Our skillfulness in the born world, or lack thereof, counts. The footprint we leave, and the financial blessing or bind we leave for who follow surely counts.
We cannot disregard the relative just because it’s not 100% “true.” It’s our experience! Who am I speaking of when I say that? The Divine. It’s the Divine’s experience. It’s worth noticing. It’s worth trying to do our best, regardless of what some nondual philosophers tell us.
I’m not a philosopher. I’m just a guy. I don’t know much of anything, but I do know what works. And sharing what works is what this teaching is all about. Yes, it can be heady, but ultimately it’s incredibly practical.
The whole “there’s nothing to do and no one to do it” is true as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. It dismisses relativity. It dismisses our own experience! I mean, please… Relativity counts.
So long as it feels as if there is someone there to make a decision, large or small, try to make the wisest, most compassionate and loving decision that you can. In other words, do what you’ve probably been trying to do for all of your life. Don’t change a thing. Relax and be lived.
Yet in the end, when all is said and done, this dreaming is all about a born world. You are the Unborn. You are That to which everything comes and goes. You “live” beyond space and time, and so what happens within space and time doesn’t matter.
It’s a dream! Even if it’s a nightmare, it’s still a dream. If it’s an experience of paradise, then that’s lovely. But it’s a dream paradise experienced by a dream character within a dream.
If you dream you found a treasure chest tonight, will you wake up any richer? Within the dream, that treasure counts. The next morning we see that it doesn’t matter.
Recognizing that everything counts puts the juice back in the game when we’ve become lost in our heads seeking, or wondering if perhaps it’s all futile. What’s it all for, where’s the meaning and purpose of things? Well, to whom is it futile? Find that one, and the rest will work itself out.
This recognition completely changes the post-awakening experience. Life has exactly the meaning we assign to it. Your life’s purpose is to read this sentence with care until your purpose becomes something else.
Everything counts, but nothing matters. But everything still counts. It’s how the game is played. Our job is to give this experience our best shot. Don’t worry about who’s doing that, or whose will it is that’s striving. Leave that to the philosophers. Me, I’m just a guy. A very content, very grateful guy. I’m grateful for What-Is-As-It-Is.
Kinda makes sense, once you realize that there’s no comparison, nor any alternative to This-As-It-Is. Hope this helps you. It’s sure helped me.
April 27, 2020 @ 11:05 am
Thanks Fred and Mike. This mantra has guided me well, too.
A corollary to it is the message of the Bhagavad Gita to make our best efforts and turn the results over to God. My efforts are important, my actions count. But the results are none of my business. Results don’t matter. Results might inform my next action (Oops, that didn’t work so well, let’s try something different next time!). But no given result can ever be “wrong.”
The Serenity Prayer delivers similar advice. Have the courage and wisdom to act skillfully within your realm of influence, and let go of all the rest.
Because, getting back to the mantra, it really doesn’t matter!
April 27, 2020 @ 2:53 pm
Terrific, Kathleen! Thank you!♥
April 27, 2020 @ 4:30 pm
The spirit of the mantra I’ve always loved. I actually use the words, because of how I’ve understood them, in reverse. Everything “matters” because it dream manifests (appears apparently as matter/form/experience); and “matter” etymologically is “mother” and so the “mattering” of life (whether suffering or happier dreaming!). That left “counts” for me, so I use that as “nothing counts” – as in nothing actually adds up to anything (like the treause no longer amounts to anything if what you need is love, or if the economy collapses – yet it did appear as matter, coins or jewels). So this is why I never asked what I did in person. It is just my interest in etymology and how communication changes with the use of words. I tried to ask about the meaning of the words to you in my question (ask “Fred” the unit), but not un-relatedly I didn’t succeed! And it doesn’t matter or count to me, as the Tower of Babel is a foundation of the dreaming! If there’s an emphasis on definitions or laws, we’re just babbling (and children don’t know how to count yet, so that babbling is just for the fun of it!)
April 27, 2020 @ 4:55 pm
Thank you, Mike!! Sorry I goofed!♥