Does seriousness ever really help? Most of us take things quite seriously, and generally “not taking anything seriously” is seen to be a bad thing. We are often told that not being serious about your “future”, job, career or role in society somehow makes you a person of little substance, or a person of low value, with no ambition or drive to succeed – also seen as bad qualities.
Does seriousness actually help though? Does it make you feel light or heavy? Pleasant or unpleasant? Free or bound? From an attitude of seriousness, is there power in action? Is there any joy?
Even when it comes to so-called “spiritual development”, seriousness certainly can hinder things. If you sit down to meditate and are very serious, will it be as enjoyable as a meditation that is not serious?
If your mind is generating negative thoughts, taking these thoughts seriously gives them strength, whereas not taking them seriously exposes them to be unimportant.
Every thought we have claims to be important, to be taken seriously. People can believe they have a real problem based only on what their mind is saying, perhaps based on only one thought. Thoughts are simply thoughts, not as important as they claim to be. Do not take your thoughts or emotions seriously, and see what happens.
Taking people and yourself seriously means there will probably less space in your interactions and relationships. Seriousness gives your false sense of self the strength and importance that it needs to survive. It also gives over-importance to the egos of other people. Non-seriousness gives you a certain freedom when interacting with others, and a less potent ego.
Seriousness does not affect care or quality. If you are not serious about something, that doesn’t mean you can not do anything well or with any discipline. Do not confuse non-seriousness with carelessness or a tendency to give up on things. It just means the heaviness goes out of your actions.
You realise you no longer need action to be who you already are and always will be. There is far less clinging or potential for sorrow. You realise that whatever you do is impermanent, so it is not that important.
We are brought up with seriousness, however, since this is something that the ego can thrive on. All you need to do is recognise when seriousness takes a hold of you. You may have no wish to feel less serious, or you may feel that you are now sick of taking everything so seriously. If so, don’t take your seriousness seriously. Let it be there, let your mind suffer it if it has to, but just be an empty, open space for it.
See how your sense of wellbeing and actions are lightened by taking things less seriously, even your own seriousness.