How to Build a Zen Mind

I believe that the best mind, or mindstate is a zen mind. But how do we do it? Some thoughts:

Real monks drink coffee and green tea

One of my very positive experiences being in Hadong South Korea was meeting this secular Zen monk, who is Korean. He told me that he drinks coffee and green tea. Also he has a smartphone, and a car. He isn’t a pretentious “woke” monk, and also not part of a monastery. He is almost like a monk entrepreneur, who teaches meditation to local folks.

What does it mean to meditate?

To meditate literally means to think (meditor). Then why is it that when we westerners think about meditation, we assume that one has to sit lotus pose, close your eyes, and do weird chanting?

Med— to measure, to give advice, to heal. The word meditate is also probably the same “med” as medicine.

I believe in the concept of meditation from a purely secular perspective. That, through activity and movement, walking and being on our legs, we think and meditate the best. And what is the point of meditation? I think it is to gain a deeper understanding of things.

What is enlightenment anyways? Enlightenment is simply gaining more insight of yourself and your life purpose and direction. Meditation isn’t a state in which you turn golden, and levitate off the floor. Enlightenment should be seen as a purely intellectual one, gaining enlightenment is just gaining self-confidence. Enlightenment from a purely etymological perspective means turning on the lights. That before, you didn’t think as critically and just followed the motions, and once you became enlightened, you gained a greater self-confidence in your life.


Isn’t it funny that when we think of monks, or Buddhist people, we don’t think of them as philosophers?

Similarly speaking, why don’t we ever think of Jesus as a philosopher?

Is it possible to be a modern day philosopher?

Of course! All children are born philosophers, because they desire to seek a greater wisdom and understanding of things. Anybody who likes to ask the question “why“ is a philosopher.

And no, you do not need to study philosophy in school or get a philosophy degree. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had an interesting conversation with somebody who formally studied philosophy, much worse got his or her PhD in philosophy. Even worse, philosophy professors tend to be bizarre people.

Why think philosophically?

First of all, I think it makes life better, and also more efficient. For example, the two most expensive things that a person will ever spend in their life includes either buying a home, and or buying a car. A philosopher is interesting, because they will think to themselves:

Should I buy a home? Why buy a home? What are the real upsides and downsides of owning a home?

With cars,

Do I even need a car in the first place? And will buying an exotic car actually make me more sexy and interesting?

After much contemplation on my end, I positively do not desire homeownership, and I do not even wish homeownership upon my worst enemy. Why? Millions upon millions of headaches, and hateful trips to Home Depot.

With cars, honestly they all suck. A Tesla car probably sucks the least, but even now, I don’t desire a Tesla. In fact, I do not desire to own any car. Why? If you own a car, your car owns you. Even if somebody offered to gift me a Lamborghini Aventador with this scissor doors for free, the intelligent thing is to not accept it. Why? The stress and expense of maintaining it, and also, the paranoia of just owning it. For example, would you drive a Lamborghini in the hood? No. The real risk that somebody might rob you at gunpoint point, or it could even get you killed.

If for some reason I wanted the worlds best car, it would probably be some sort of high-end Hyundai Genesis, as nobody has any idea what it is, or cares. Yet the interior design and comfort is unparalleled.

Even a funny idea I had, maybe the best luxury car would be a Rolls-Royce, which didn’t look like a Rolls-Royce on the outside. That you spent money to get rid of the Rolls-Royce spirit of ecstasy hood emblem, and also got rid of all the Rolls-Royce badging. A Rolls-Royce sleeper, that maybe looked more like a Chrysler on the outside, but was a Rolls-Royce on the inside.

Practical thoughts

To achieve and gain as in mind is all via negativa or, getting rid of things.

For example, don’t use email, don’t have email or any social media apps or YouTube installed on your phone, no social media, no podcast, and be very very very selective on reading books. Even reading too much books is bad.

Also, health and strength. To be able to sleep 8 to 12 hours a night, and also have great muscular strength. Weightlifting at the gym.

Disable all the notifications on your phone. Only enable FaceTime, so if your wife really needs to contact you, she could just FaceTime you.

Also, no text messaging. If you really just want to chat with a friend, just FaceTime them instead.

The true zen mind would just be not be owning a phone. I didn’t own a phone for almost 2 years when I lived in Vietnam, and it was the most sublime mindset I have ever had in my life. But now that I got a kid, and emergencies could happen, I try to use my iPhone SE as little as humanly possible, and even when I go out to the park and play with Seneca, I just lock it in the glove compartment when I leave, because I know that I will easily get distracted.

Use Google products to a minimum

I am very anti-Google Chrome. I don’t have it installed on any of my devices, I just use Safari instead.

Why? The ultimate killer of your mind and focus is advertisements and advertising. Let us not forget that Google is an advertising company, and makes 99% of her profits through Google search, and advertising.

For example, Android. I am certain that the low-key plan of Android is to simply find more intelligent ways to deliver more relevant advertisements to you. For example when I was testing the Google Pixel, I cannot get rid of the Google search bar on the phone. Why? What Google wants you to do is to just google everything, and in between your searches, deliver you relevant advertisements.

Even nowadays, I have been trying to use Apple Maps over Google maps. Why? Google maps now has all of these distracting advertisements in it, which distracts me. While Apple Maps is the inferior service, at least it doesn’t have advertisements in it.

Even a philosophical thought, if you have the option of an inferior experience with no advertisements, or a superior experience with advertisements, choose the inferior option with no advertisements. This is superior for your zen mind.

Once again, I believe that all advertisements are bad for your mind. The more advertising you are subjected to, the less zen your mind.

A big culprit nowadays is magazines, and newspapers. I hate magazines, because 90% of it is just advertisements.

Also as a rule, do not trust any media source which is supported by advertising. That includes the TV news, YouTube, podcast, etc. Why? If a person or an agency or a media platform is supported by advertising, it is not in their best interest to tell you honest relevant things, as what you desire to do is to maximize your eyeball watching time, which shifts the news towards things which are more sensational.

Intermittent fasting