Zen attacks that one last thing you hold dear: your precious self-conception. It unravels any notion of a freestanding, unconditional "I" and shows it to be a lie, a fabrication, a construction. True realization, the old masters tell us, takes bone-crushing effort. We pulverize the very skeleton of ego—upon which the meat and skin and organs of our illusions hang—and we do it through intense, hurtle-yourself-off-the-cliffs-and-into-the-chasm practice.
Awareness is not something that needs to be manufactured: when there is a gap, awareness enters into us. So awareness does not require a certain particular effort. Such an effort is unnecessary. Awareness is like a wind. If you open your doors and windows, it is bound to come in.
The belief that unhappiness is selfless and happiness is selfish is misguided. It's more selfless to act happy. It takes energy, generosity, and discipline to be unfailingly lighthearted, yet everyone takes the happy person for granted. No one is careful of his feelings or tries to keep his spirits high. He seems self-sufficient; he becomes a cushion for others. And because happiness seems unforced, that person usually gets no credit.