All writings herein serve to open up the world towards knowledge that matters, to piece together the greatest philosophies of living, and to expound ways towards
the path of freedom, happiness & choice.

#134 Improve Every Moment, by Leo Babauta

Posted: September 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

I’m a big proponent of slowing down, simplifying, doing less, and being less busy … but what if you can’t?

What if your life can’t be made less busy — are you doomed to a life of anxiety and unhappiness?

No. I’m going to share with you a very simple tool that might just transform your life. It’s something I’ve been trying in the last few months, and I can attest that it works brilliantly.

This one little method will help you to:

  • Be more present, so life doesn’t rush past you without you noticing.
  • Enjoy every activity you do more, so life is better all the time.
  • Feel more relaxed, so every day is as good as a vacation.
  • Be ready to handle anything that comes your way.

Not bad for a very tiny method, no? Let’s dive in.

Busy vs. relaxed

Normally we have two different modes in life. There’s the busy of our everyday lives, and then there’s the relaxed mode, which happens when we have some unstructured time: vacation, a day at the beach, a spa getaway, some time in the park with the kids.

Relaxed mode is one where we perhaps think less and feel more. We just soak in the sun, the sounds, the sensations. This is a child-like time, because it’s the mode that young children are in the most. We do our best to train kids not to be like this, so they can be good workers when they grow up and serve our corporate masters.

And so we grow up to be in busy mode most of the week, and if we’re lucky we get a day or two, maybe only an hour or two of relaxed mode. When the Internet sucks us in, we have less relaxed mode because the Internet keeps us in our minds, and we forget about the physical world around us.

How can we change this? How can we bring the child-like relaxed, sensory mode back into our everyday lives, not just during breaks and meditation/yoga time and vacations?

It’s not that difficult, if you practice.

The Zen State

When we are in relaxed mode, we notice the sensations of the wind and sun, the sounds of water and laughter, the brilliant colors of nature, the smiles around us, the grass or sand between our toes. We are feeling instead of thinking. The sensations of our bodies flow into our minds, and it makes us relaxed, happy.

We can re-learn this mode of being with practice. Do it now. You’re reading a computer or mobile device screen, so your mind is in the world of the Internet … but your body is in the physical world. If you’re sitting, your butt can feel the chair. Your back might be a bit hunched. Your fingers are on a keyboard or mouse. Is the air around you cold or warm? Are there sounds you can notice? Is your jaw clenched? Notice your breathing.

When you put your focus into physcial sensations, you are entering relaxed mode instead of thinking mode. It’s not that you’re completely relaxed, but you’re in the same state of mind as the times you are relaxed, like yoga or the beach or lazing away a Sunday in bed.

Once you learn to do this, you can do it any time. In fact, all the time.

If you’re taking a shower, feel the water running down you, soak in the temperature and the sound of running water. If you’re eating, taste every little nuance of the food, smell the food, feel the texture in your mouth, feel the movement of your hand going to your mouth.

Do this as you work, as you talk on the phone or respond to emails or walk to a meeting or drive to an appointment, noticing the sensations on your skin, the colors around you, the sounds of humanity, your breath coming in and leaving you. Do this at home, as you do chores or prepare food or clean up or get ready for work. Do this throughout your day, and you will be in a constant state of relaxation and enjoyment.

It will transform everything you do, if you do it. It will turn busy-ness into being present, harriedness into enjoyment.

Life will be lived, instead of ignored.

(To learn more about Leo, visit: http://www.zenhabits.net)


#133 Top Ten Myths About Introverts

Posted: August 17th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 5 Comments »

Myth #1 – Introverts don’t like to talk.

This is not true. Introverts just don’t talk unless they have something to say. They hate small talk. Get an introvert talking about something they are interested in, and they won’t shut up for days.

Myth #2 – Introverts are shy.

Shyness has nothing to do with being an Introvert. Introverts are not necessarily afraid of people. What they need is a reason to interact. They don’t interact for the sake of interacting. If you want to talk to an Introvert, just start talking. Don’t worry about being polite.

Myth #3 – Introverts are rude.

Introverts often don’t see a reason for beating around the bush with social pleasantries. They want everyone to just be real and honest. Unfortunately, this is not acceptable in most settings, so Introverts can feel a lot of pressure to fit in, which they find exhausting.

Myth #4 – Introverts don’t like people.

On the contrary, Introverts intensely value the few friends they have. They can count their close friends on one hand. If you are lucky enough for an introvert to consider you a friend, you probably have a loyal ally for life. Once you have earned their respect as being a person of substance, you’re in.

Myth #5 – Introverts don’t like to go out in public.

Nonsense. Introverts just don’t like to go out in public FOR AS LONG. They also like to avoid the complications that are involved in public activities. They take in data and experiences very quickly, and as a result, don’t need to be there for long to “get it.” They’re ready to go home, recharge, and process it all. In fact, recharging is absolutely crucial for Introverts.

Myth #6 – Introverts always want to be alone.

Introverts are perfectly comfortable with their own thoughts. They think a lot. They daydream. They like to have problems to work on, puzzles to solve. But they can also get incredibly lonely if they don’t have anyone to share their discoveries with. They crave an authentic and sincere connection with ONE PERSON at a time.

Myth #7 – Introverts are weird.

Introverts are often individualists. They don’t follow the crowd. They’d prefer to be valued for their novel ways of living. They think for themselves and because of that, they often challenge the norm. They don’t make most decisions based on what is popular or trendy.

Myth #8 – Introverts are aloof nerds.

Introverts are people who primarily look inward, paying close attention to their thoughts and emotions. It’s not that they are incapable of paying attention to what is going on around them, it’s just that their inner world is much more stimulating and rewarding to them.

Myth #9 – Introverts don’t know how to relax and have fun.

Introverts typically relax at home or in nature, not in busy public places. Introverts are not thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies. If there is too much talking and noise going on, they shut down. Their brains are too sensitive to the neurotransmitter called Dopamine. Introverts and Extroverts have different dominant neuro-pathways. Just look it up.

Myth #10 – Introverts can fix themselves and become Extroverts.

Introverts cannot “fix themselves” and deserve respect for their natural temperament and contributions to the human race. In fact, one study (Silverman, 1986) showed that the percentage of Introverts increases with IQ.


#132 Being Fair & the Sincere Appreciation for Life

Posted: July 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

There’s a balance in life. They say when you’ve found the balance is when you’re going to enjoy life the best. But really, this balance doesn’t come from what you do or have on the outside. It’s more from the way we see things.

I’ve learned from a great friend to emphasize being fair in the objective instead of subjective when it comes to making tougher decisions, and know the actual purpose for our actions. We can try hard to do what we do, but if we already know that we’ll be serious for situations that call for it, we can keep away the tense facade and allow life to take a more courteous, if not elegant appearance.

It doesn’t mean that we don’t have fire in our hearts. It just means that we direct the flame in the right directions. Usually, life tends to show better manners as we keep things fair and remember the real reason in why we work so hard in having a better life. It’s all done for the sincere appreciation of living. While we can do that, why not allow it?


#131 How to be Happy Anytime, by Leo Babauta

Posted: July 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 6 Comments »

My friend Barron recently asked, “If you could be anywhere right now, doing anything you want, where would you be? And what would you be doing?”

And my answer was, “I’m always where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing.”

I’ve notice that in the past, like many people, I was always wishing I was doing something different, thinking about what I would do in the future, making plans for my life to come, reading (with jealousy) about cool things other people were doing.

It’s a fool’s game.

Many of us do this, but if you get into the mindset of thinking about what you *could* be doing, you’ll never be happy doing what you actually *are* doing. You’ll compare what you’re doing with what other people (on Facebook and Twitter, perhaps?) are doing. You’ll wish your life were better. You’ll never be satisfied, because there’s *always* something better to do.

Instead, I’ve adopted the mindset that whatever I’m doing right now is perfect. If I’m writing a post, that’s amazing. If I’m reading blog posts on the Internet, that’s interesting. If I’m doing nothing but hanging out with my family, that’s incredible. If I’m walking outside, enjoying the fresh air, that’s beautiful.

There’s nothing I’m ever doing that isn’t the most incredible thing on Earth. If I’m doing something sucky (I can’t remember doing that recently), maybe that’s an invaluable life lesson. If I’m with someone boring or obnoxious, it’s a lesson in patience, or empathy, or in learning to understand people better.
The Now Mindset, In Practice

Let’s say you’re washing the dishes. Wouldn’t you rather be having a delicious meal instead, or talking with your best friend? Sure, those things are great, but they’re only better if you believe they’re better, and more importantly, the comparison is totally unnecessary. Why should you compare what you’re doing now (washing dishes) with anything else? Wouldn’t almost anything lose out if you compare it to something you like more? Will you ever be happy with what you’re doing if you always compare it with something you like more?

Washing dishes can be as great as anything else, if you decide to see it that way. You’re in solitude, which is a beautiful thing. If you do it mindfully, washing dishes can be pleasant as you feel the suds and water in your hands, pay attention to the dish and its texture, notice your breathing and thoughts. It’s meditation, it’s quiet, it’s lovely.

You can say the same of anything. Driving to work? Enjoy the solitude, the chance to be alone with your thoughts, or to listen to music you love, to see the world around you. In a meeting with co-workers? Pay attention to how people talk and interact, learn about the human mind, see yourself in everyone around you, learn to love anyone no matter who they are, practice giving up expectations of who people should be or what this meeting should be like.

I’m always happy with what I’m doing, because I don’t compare it to anything else, and instead pay close attention to the activity itself. I’m always happy with whoever I’m with, because I learn to see the perfection in every person. I’m always happy with where I am, because there’s no place on Earth that’s not a miracle.

Life will suck if you are always wishing you’re doing something else. Life will rock if you realize you’re already doing the best thing ever.

(To learn more from Leo, please kindly visit: http://www.zenhabits.net.)


#130 Toss Your Expectations into the Ocean, by Leo Babauta

Posted: July 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

‘Act without expectation.’ ~Lao Tzu

How much of your stress, frustration, disappointment, anger, irritation, pissed-offedness comes from one little thing?

Almost all of it comes from your expectations, and when things (inevitably) don’t turn out as we expect, from wishing things were different.

We build these expectations in our heads of what other people should do, what our lives should be like, how other drivers should behave … and yet it’s all fantasy. It’s not real.

And when reality doesn’t meet our fantasy, we wish the world were different.

Here’s a simple solution:

Take your expectations, and throw them in the ocean.

Picture all the expectations you have for yourself, your life, your spouse, your kids, your coworkers, your job, the world. Take them from inside you, and toss them in the ocean. A river or lake will also do.

What happens to them? They float. They’re carried around by waves. The current takes them out, and they drift away. Let them be washed away by the cleansing waters, and let them go.

Now live your life without them.

What’s a life without expectations like? It means you accept reality as it is, without expectations, without trying to force people into the containers you have for them, seeing things as they are. It’s a life where you don’t need to be disappointed or frustrated or angry — or if you are, you accept it, and then let it go.

That’s not to say you never act — you can act in a way that’s in accordance with your values, and influence the world, but never have an expectation of how the world will react to your actions.

If you do something good, you won’t expect praise or appreciation. Let those expectations of reward and praise float away with the waves. Do good because you love doing good, and expect nothing beyond that.

Pay attention to your thoughts. Don’t beat yourself up if you have expectations. Just see them. Then toss them in the ocean.

Notice if you start to wish things weren’t the way they are. If you wish someone else didn’t do something, notice that. You have expectations, and you wish people or the world could have met them instead of doing what they actually did. Toss those wishes in the ocean too. Now accept things, and move on.

Let the waters of the world cleanse us, and let us walk lightly in a world that is already wonderful without our fantasies.

‘I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.’ ~Dalai Lama

(Him: To learn more from Leo Babauta, please kindly visit: http://www.zenhabits.net. I highly recommend Leo’s teachings for their practical application in daily life. Please do visit his site when you have time – thanks.)


#129 How to Speak About Changing the World, by Robert Rabbin

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

I arrived in the US on 23rd May, after living in Australia for more than five years.

Since my arrival, several people have alerted me to a number of webinars and urged me to listen.

I’ve listened to about a dozen of them, all having to do, broadly speaking, with personal growth, spiritual development, and global evolution.

Well, it’s not true that I listened. I tried to listen. I wanted to listen. I gave my time and attention to listen.

But I couldn’t.

I kept getting headaches — not so much from what the people were saying, but from how they were saying it.

In spite of the following generalization, I feel it is accurate to say that in terms of speaking style, all the people, men and women alike, spoke with passion, sincerity, clarity, conviction, urgency. Perhaps the most noticeable style trait was intensity, even if the intensity was quiet and soft. In terms of content, most had well-developed, if extremely intellectual, presentations. These are positive reviews, and one might think that I should have been able to listen all the way through. I couldn’t.

It wasn’t for lack of interest, as I’ve lived in this world of personal growth and spiritual development for 40 years, as a student, speaker, writer, and self-awareness teacher. I share what I’ve learned as I travel through and work within personal, organizational, social, and cultural circles. My interest was sincere. But I couldn’t listen.

Here’s why. No one was playful. Without playfulness, I can not listen to anyone for very long, especially when the topic is something as significant as global evolution. When people speak to me without playfulness, I start wheezing. I get what I call “subtle body asthma.” I can’t breathe. My head starts to pound and my ears ring. The oxygen is sucked from the air.

Playfulness is an important word and principle, one that I use often in my RealTime Speaking programs, in which I teach people how to speak authentically. I’ve spent considerable time reflecting on this word, what it means, and why it is so important and powerful. Playfulness means “nothing to defend.”

Perhaps the greatest barrier to authentic public speaking is people’s fear of being seen. To avoid the risk of transparency, vulnerability, and intimacy in speaking, people hide. They hide behind all kinds of things, including the need to be right.

Needing to be right and it’s corollary, the fear of being wrong, blocks authenticity in speaking. The antidote is playfulness: nothing to defend. I say often: speaking authentically is about being real, not right.

Please think about this for a moment. If in your speaking you are not trying to be right, and you are not afraid of being wrong, you have nothing to defend. You shift from a right/wrong, good/bad polarity to simply, “Here is what I have to say.” We are not trying to be right. We are not afraid of being wrong. We are just expressing our “truth,” how we see things in this moment.

With nothing to defend, we fall almost inevitably into being playful. When we relate to others playfully, when we speak playful, we create such an open space for all kinds of things to happen. Within this playful space of relating and speaking, there is no pressure, no push, no pull. It’s as if we don’t even care to produce a result! We’re just playing. Who doesn’t want to join in and play?

Being playful does not compromise our sincerity, conviction, or clarity. It does, however, drain the life out of intensity. Intensity is the antithesis of playfulness. The intensity is the bully on the playground, stealing all the joy, spontaneity, pleasure, and connection that we experience in play. Intensity ruins the playfulness, beats it up with needing to be right.

I started teaching self-inquiry and meditation in 1986, shortly after spending more than ten years studying with my meditation teacher. Even then, at the beginning of my teaching, I spoke with passion, sincerity, clarity, conviction, urgency. Mostly, I spoke with intensity. I was so intense that people would literally fall over, unconscious. I mistakenly thought they had entered some state of samadhi, catapulted by my brilliance or by the swirls of shakti, energy, that were always gusting through the room.

No, they were not experiencing samadhi. They were escaping my intensity. My intensity was a bundle of passion, conviction, clarity, urgency — all rolled up into a nice little club of “I’m right.”

I’m happy to say that I no longer speak with intensity. I haven’t for years. I can still bring it, but what I bring is not intensity. People no longer fall unconscious when I speak. I am never trying to be right. I am only trying to be real. I can even say that I don’t try to influence or persuade my audiences. In a manner of speaking, I don’t care if my speaking has any effect or not. I don’t care. Isn’t that an odd statement from someone who’s motto, for 25 years, has been, “Have Mouth, Will Travel.”

Isn’t that an odd statement for a speaker? After all, what is speaking if not a beautiful and powerful means to inspire, influence, arouse, incite, people? Isn’t our speaking a marvelous way to effect change? I suppose. But I have to tell the truth here: I don’t care about that. I just care about being real.

As an aside, I am now often told that I have an extraordinary capacity to inspire people along their path of personal growth and spiritual development. From what people say, I am equally adept in assisting people to become much more aware, competent, and responsible in their work lives. I don’t just preach to the choir. Many of my students, clients, and audiences are not already aligned with my particular point of view. They do not share my interests or values. That doesn’t seem to matter. They all listen.

Isn’t that the first order of business for any speaker: to compel your audience to listen wholeheartedly and with full attention?

I don’t try to produce any effects in my speaking. I don’t really care what happens. But people do listen, and most will say they become expanded and elevated in some way, maybe personally, or spiritually, or professionally, or relationally. If I were to attribute a cause to these effects, I would say it is simply my playfulness.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. I couldn’t listen to any of the speakers because to my ears, they all needed to be right. All the speakers had premises upon which their presentations were based. It is there, in their premises, that the rightness exists. A premise is a basis, stated or assumed, on which reasoning proceeds. Intensity comes from belief in our premise.

The speakers I tried to listen to believed too much in everything they said. They did not play. I could not listen.

I know this may not make quick or easy sense. It took me years and years of inner work, as well as teaching and pubic speaking and teaching public speaking, to understand. It’s subtle. It’s profound. It’s a kind of enlightenment.

I am a very effective speaker, in that people listen and are effected. I don’t care. I just notice that it happens. I’m in it for me, selfishly. I’m sorry to say that I am not interested in trying to change anyone, let alone the world. I speak because it is my high wire; it is where and when I become fully and extravagently alive. Shakti fills every cell of my body. I feel hundreds of miles tall. I feel that everyone is my friend and I am their friend. I speak because I must. But I am not in love with what I say. I am not suggesting my motive is admirable. Certainly, I’m not suggesting it be embraced or imitated by anyone. I thought I should share that as part of this writing.

All my speaking these days is wrapped up in just ten words, the ten words that comprise The Five Principles of Authentic Living. These ten words are all the content I have. Be Present. Pay Attention. Listen Deeply. Speak Truthfully. Act Creatively. Everything else I might say is a response to people, situations, and ife in the most personal and specific of ways.

I make everything up and I speak playfully. I am at the same time a serious, focused, concerned, competent, and effective person. I just don’t need to be right about anything. I prefer to play. I have noticed over the years that as my intensity lessened and my playfulness increased, more and more people would listen. More people wanted to play. Now, everybody listens, because everybody wants to play.

If we are going to speak about global evolution and changing the world, and if we want to arouse and engage people not already in the choir, I suggest we learn how to speak playfully.

That means giving up intensity and needing to be right. There are so many levels to that. Speaking to be real, not right — it seems paradoxical. Nonetheless, I recommend learning to speak playfully if you want to speak about changing the world.

(If you’d like to learn more about Robert Rabbin, please kindly visit: http://www.realtimespeaking.com/)


#128 What is Happiness, by Dhanya Moffitt

Posted: June 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

The Upanishads show us how to recognize the source of true fulfillment

By Dhanya Moffitt

We all want a good and happy life. Most of our pursuits are geared toward that end. What we may not understand is that the happiness gained through changing experiences and actions is fleeting. The only way to gain the lasting happiness we seek is through the recognition that our true nature is happiness itself. This recognition is called moksha, Self-knowledge or liberation.

The Vedas are the world’s oldest-known scriptures. The essential subject matter of these revered texts is happiness and the nature of your Self. The Vedas are divided into two parts. The first part is by far the longer and contains instructions on how to achieve the best life possible in the world of changing experience known as samsara.

The second part of the Vedas is for those who have discerned that changing circumstances cannot deliver something that lasts. This part of the Vedas contains the Upanishads, the original source books of the teachings of Advaita Vedanta. (Advaita means “not two, nondual.” Vedanta means “the end of the Vedas.”)

The entire teaching of Vedanta is encapsulated in the word upanishad. The Upanishads convey the very well-ascertained knowledge (ni) of that which is most near, the Self (upa), which brings about the disintegration of sorrow—along with its cause—when the truth is revealed (sad). In other words, it is Self-knowledge that delivers lasting happiness.

The teachings of the Upanishads tell us that the cause of sorrow is taking the ever-present changeless Self (Atman) to be one with—and a product of—the body, mind, and sense organs. Thus we take who we are to be limited, subject to birth, death, and change. Vedanta tells us this is not true. Who we are is not subject to any of these things; rather, we are birthless, deathless, changeless, limitless Atman. Not recognizing the Self as it really is, we suffer.

A student of Vedanta is guided by the teachings to distinguish between that which doesn’t change (the Self/Atman), and that which does (everything else). This is done through a dual process of negation and positive assertion. “Not this, not this” (neti,neti) is the negation of the notion that our Self has anything to do with the body, mind, and sense organs, all of which change. At the same time, positive assertion is used to point out that we are “that which is changelessly ever-present, illumining all of these.”

This is not a conceptual exercise. The teachings are pointing us to recognize directly and without a shadow of a doubt the truth about the Self. People often say, “My body has changed and aged, but I feel as if I never have.” This intuitive feeling is accurate. Although the Self has never changed, it remains undifferentiated from the changing experiences of the body and mind until the teachings clearly point the unchanging nature of the Self out to you.

Guided by the teachings of Vedanta, the student examines the phenomenon of happiness in order to ascertain its source. When we obtain a desired object, for example, we experience a moment of pleasure. A variety of other experiences—such as meditating, listening to music, or watching a sunset—may also produce pleasure.

We naturally assume that the source of our pleasure lies in the situation, experience, or object that appears to have made us happy. Thus we keep trying to gain those objects and replicate those situations that seem to produce this effect. However, the same objects and situations please some people while displeasing others. Also, what once gave pleasure may later become a source of pain. Meditative experiences don’t last. In short, no object or situation is, in and of itself, a source of constant happiness at all times, for all people, in all places. How then does the experience of happiness arise?

The mind is composed of thoughts. The Atman is ever-present and illumines the mind. The nature of the Atman is pure happiness. In the instant a desire is fulfilled the mind relaxes, and the ever-present Atman is reflected in the mind in the form of ananda (pure happiness). This produces a moment of pleasure.

In the next instant another thought or desire may arise, replacing the reflected ananda of the Atman. Rather than recognizing the Atman as the actual source of happiness, the source of happiness is projected out onto the changing world of objects, and we try to gain happiness from them, an activity the scriptures compare to trying to drink water from a mirage.

Once the Self has been recognized as it truly is—ever-present, limitless, and full—we no longer need to project our well-being onto objects and experiences. We no longer need to pursue happiness; we know our nature is happiness and we can rest in that recognition.

There is only one Self, one Atman. This same Self shines in the hearts and minds of all. Step by step, as the teachings progress, using a process of logic and reason, we come to recognize that this same Self is Brahman. This very Self, from which the world has come, is the stable being of the entire world of changing experience.

Everything we see, perceive, and experience has for its actual being Atman, which is Brahman, which is the Self alone. Once we gain this recognition we know the truth of existence. Despite any appearance to the contrary, all is in reality only one, nondual, advaita: one being, one reality, one Self, which—due to the veiling power of maya—appears to be many.

This recognition takes place over time and through the teachings. Because the verses of the Upanishads are terse, and their meaning difficult to decipher, we require the guidance of a highly trained teacher who knows how to unlock the meaning of the words, and then how to use those words as direct pointers to the Self.

Having acknowledged that the changing world of experience can never be a lasting source of happiness, the Upanishads do not tell us there is something we need to do in order to be happy. The result of any action, being time-bound, will not provide lasting happiness. Once the Atman is recognized as it is—limitless, full, and complete, ever-present, never-sorrowful, and never-changing—we don’t need to look for happiness elsewhere.

The Upanishad is the revealer of truth. Moksha is that which is revealed. The meaning of the revealer and the revealed is the same. When that which is most near and dear (upa) is very well ascertained (ni), all sorrows disintegrate—along with their cause—in the knowledge that I am Brahman alone (sad). This is moksha—the discovery that your true nature is happiness.

~ ~ ~

The Vedanta Column is published in partnership with Advaita Academy, a nonprofit organization which aims to preserve and promote the awareness of traditional Advaita teachings through a comprehensive website and in collaboration with similar associations.

Dhanya Moffitt has been a student of traditional Advaita Vedanta for the past eight years.

(Source: http://www.himalayaninstitute.org/YI/article.aspx?id=4022)


#127 Living with Chaos, by Leo Babauta

Posted: June 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

‘In chaos, there is fertility.’ ~Anaïs Nin

Recently I wrote about the illusion of control, and living with no goals.

What I’m still figuring out is what you do if you let go of the illusion of control, and plan as little as possible.

What’s life like without goals or plans? How do we deal with the chaos?

I don’t have all the answers, but I’m learning a lot.

I went to the World Domination Summit in Portland earlier this month with few plans. I had a speech to give, a couple smaller sessions to hold, a bike tour scheduled, a plane ticket and a hotel room. But the large majority of the weekend I left open, with no plans.

It was liberating. I didn’t mind giving the talks, and I loved the tour, but meeting unexpected strangers, hanging out with people I’d never met, going with the flow of the crowd — it was fun. I never really knew what was going to happen next, and that’s scary … but strangely freeing.

As I write this, I’m on a plane to Guam for a month, and I have tons of friends and family to see — they all want to hang out with Eva, me and the kids (and vice versa — we’re excited to see them). But other than a place to stay for two of the four weeks we’ll be there, we have no set plans. We don’t know what we’re doing for transportation, we don’t know what we’ll do each day, and I don’t know where we’ll be living the last couple of weeks. It’s scary, but I know we’ll be fine.

How do you live with the chaos?

You learn to embrace it.

Living Daily Without Plans

I try to schedule as little as possible, and I have no goals for each day. I wake up and ask myself, “What excites me today?” And each day that’s different.

Sure, there are obligations that I have to meet, but mostly those are things I’m excited about. The ones I’m not so excited about, I’ll still do — unless I can avoid them.

But each moment I try to live consciously, in the moment, and ask myself … “What am I passionate about? And how can I handle each moment while being true to my values?”

I’ve been having an ongoing discussion about this with my friend Suraj, who lives in London and practices the Jain religion. He has clearly identified his values: friendship, appreciation, compassion, and equanimity. I love those values.

My value is compassion, which comes in various manifestations: love, kindness, empathy, gratitude. And every time a situation comes up, I ask myself, “How can I deal with this compassionately?”

I’m still learning how to do this. I don’t claim to have mastered it, and will probably be exploring this for years to come.

Why Plans are an Illusion

Living without plans might seem foolish, or unrealistic to most people. That’s fine. But if you want to be realistic, you should understand that the plans you make are pure illusions of control.

Let’s take a simple example. You have plans to write a report (or a blog post or a book chapter) and meet with a colleague or business partner today. The writing is supposed to happen at 9 a.m. and the meeting is at 11 a.m.

Let’s assume those things actually happen according to plan. Many days, other things will come up and the illusion of control is easily shattered. But some days we get lucky and the plans actually happen as we hoped.

So you sit down to write, as planned. Perhaps you’ve outlined your writing. But as you write, you think of things you hadn’t planned. You face problems as you think the writing through that you couldn’t have foreseen before you started writing. In fact, if you pay close attention, it becomes clear that there’s no way you could have planned the writing ahead of time — it has to unfold as you do it, because only as you do it do you fully think things through, and there’s no way to predict our own thinking (let alone the thinking of others).

And so things emerge from our writing that could never have been planned, and in fact if we’re open to it, we might write something entirely brilliant that we never could have predicted. Or if we try to stick to the outline, we might ignore the brilliant possibilities that come up.

So now it’s 11 a.m. and it’s time for your meeting. You meet your colleague or partner, as planned, and start talking. Of course, conversations can’t be planned, and there’s no way to predict what will come up as you talk. You might even have an agenda, but as you talk about things on the agenda, new ideas emerge, and when one of you suggests a new idea, that sparks another idea in the other person, and so on — ideas are sparked, back and forth, that couldn’t have been planned.

And so new ideas and projects and collaborations emerge from this meeting that never could have been planned. And that’s a great thing.

The two planned events, even though they happened as planned, were totally unpredictable and uncontrollable. The more we embrace this chaos, the more we embrace the brilliant possibilities that might emerge. The more we try to control our day and actions with plans, the more we limit ourselves.

Be Open to the Unfolding Moment

We try to hold onto the illusion of control, but what if we instead embraced the chaos? What if we left ourselves open to the changing, unfolding moment, and the possibilities we could never have planned for?

It’s beautiful.

Try it. Throw out your plans for the next hour. See what happens, moment to moment. Think about what excites you, what’s in line with your values.

And as you start doing things that excite you, that are in line with your values … see what new things emerge. Talk with people with no fixed intentions, and see what ideas come up from that interaction. See what new opportunities come up as you interact with people, with ideas, with your own thoughts.

It sounds nebulous, but in fact it’s as concrete as anything else. As I’ve shown, when we make plans, we think we’re setting things in concrete, but it’s always fluid — we just try to make ourselves think it’s solidly concrete.

When we acknowledge the fluidity of our lives, we learn to use that fluidity to our advantage. We flow. We are open to changing currents. We see things with open eyes, instead of trying to make the world fit to our plans and goals.

I don’t have all the answers, and in fact I’d be a hypocrite if I claimed to be able to predict what will happen when I live like this … or if anyone else lives like this.

I don’t know what will happen. Think of the limitless possibilities of that simple statement.

‘Chaos is a friend of mine.’ ~Bob Dylan

(To learn more from Leo, please kindly visit his website at: http://www.zenhabits.net)


#126 An Epic Post – About Life

Posted: June 2nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

Call it a big fat joke, it won’t matter.

I have recently read a book by Paramhansa Yogananda called “Autobiography of a Yogi”.

He is a spiritual teacher from India who was truly famous at a time in America because of the message he brought over to connect both the East and West in the understanding of spirituality.

So in this book, Paramhansa Yogananda, hereto will be referred as Yogananda, writes about his life as a Yogi.

A Yogi is somewhat like an Indian monk, except that the requirements needed to fulfill the role isn’t complete renunciation but an acceptance for a way of life that is of highest good to one’s true nature.

Interestingly, some of the experiences Yogananda shared in his book also includes intriguing or miraculous feats of the Yogis. For example, there are stories in the book which tells of how some of their actions supersede the laws of conventional science, i.e.

  • A master knowing what happened to someone and giving an answer or solution to him/her even before the person brings up his/her question
  • The manifestation of an actual physical body by the master to deliver a message miles away to a person – while the original body is seen to be sitting still by another witness at another location
  • The healing of many seemingly impossible-to-cure physical ailments and much, much more.

Basically, the average person would just simply find many events in this book to be a disconnect from our ‘real world’ – the world that provides our lives with Guccis, Pradas and Louis Vuittons.

Yet, with every page I turn, the book didn’t repel my interest – yes, even though I’m an absolute stickler for truth.

Something in my gut tells me that what he’d expressed is genuine, and the many reasonable facts & supporting statements accompanying his message helps too.

Since this post was intended to be epic, I’m going to skip on the details for most of what I’ve read and talk about a scene in the book which I’d like to share with you the most instead.

In “Autobiography of a Yogi”, Yogananda’s recently passed-away master Sri Yukteswar eventually manifested himself before his student to share with the latter some teachings about life beyond death.

In their ecstatic conversation, Sri Yukteswar talked about three different worlds:

  • The physical cosmos
  • The astral cosmos
  • And the causal cosmos

You can accept or reject what follows – although I’m compelled to follow the first choice in this circumstance.

Sri Yukteswar describes our current world, the world that is filled with Guccis Pradas and LVs as the physical cosmos. In this world, our physical bodies greatly depend on food, drink and oxygen to survive. Our senses sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling serves their own individual purpose and is hard-connected to our bodies to maintain sustenance of our lives. In this world, the mental & emotional world thrives, guided by the impulse of an egoic self. We believe we are truly separate people, since our awareness seems to be bound to a particular individual since birth.

The second world is called the astral cosmos. According to Sri Yukteswar in this particular encounter with Yogananda, you could associate almost any out-of-conventional-science phenomenas and religious origins of our current life to this world, i.e. telepathic or psychic realizations, the mysteries of Karma & reincarnations, supernatural feats & etc. Ever heard of a parallel universe? The astral world is like a ‘higher dimension’ – although I don’t really like to use that word – to the physical cosmos. Whether you’d like to understand this through the lens of science or spiritual understanding is your choice. While our universe is considered immense, it exists only as a part of this existence. In the astral cosmos, lives are reborn in subtler ways. Beings are described to still have the same sense features such as eyes, nose, tongue, ears, and skin. However, physical limitations as we have now aren’t imposed on its beings. As mentioned in the book, souls are able to manifest themselves foods, waters, plants and even different appearances through subtle thought. They still maintain a physical existence, but in the astral cosmos, the world is just very subtle. Good and evil beings are limited to different astral planes. If you were to ask me to identify a name for this place, I’d liken it to my understanding of heaven in the bible, and a reincarnation source for our physical cosmos according to the Buddhist or Hindhu religions. Sri Yukteswar briefly described that here in this astral plane is also where beings work out their remaining karmas, some accomplishing that through the cosmos, while some having to clear themselves through the hardships of our physical world. My understanding of the astral plane according to New Age descriptions is that it’s a higher-dimension. Like how our world functions with certain laws i.e. gravity, reincarnation probably also works in the same way.

The causal cosmos is even subtler. This plane may be slightly harder to grasp if one has never ventured into the subject of science and spirituality deeply enough. Sometimes, YouTube helps. There are descriptions from quantum scientists about parallel universes and dimensions which touches upon this plane of existence. Sri Yukteswar describes the causal cosmos as one where a being has an existence that encompasses space & time, and where perception plays the greatest role. Every thing that has to do with the this plane is connected to the subtlety of perception. At a single thought planets are created, organisms are brought into beings, and distances are leapt. A being has almost no physical existence, and carries a similar nature to the universe. Of course, information like this can be a little hard to digest by some. Well, let time do its work. There are enough academic or scientific explanations out there that can help anyone visualize this existence. If that doesn’t work, perhaps you can try the spiritual way and meditate – do it deeply enough and you may grasp a feeling of this. After all, our bodies’ atoms appear out of this same field.

There are a lot more interlinking in Sri Yukteswar’s descriptions of these worlds with life.

One of the biggest expressions I appreciate from him is that as vivid and solid as it seems, life is God’s dream.

It talks about something like the physical cosmos actually appearing out of the astral & causal cosmos’ dream, and the astral/causal cosmos out of God’s dreams.

From what I understand, God in this sense represents an everlasting Nothingness that in our physical world, can be understood as an all-time exhilarating existence.

It could be described as the One Consciousness.

And the punch is, we are already That.

Except that our existence is God, dreaming.

Yet we are It.

So this is my epic post, about life.

At the end of the story, if you were to ask me if I think this is all absolutely true, I’ll most probably give you an out of the world answer.

Although my egoic self latches me closely to the individual I am in the physical body which I’m using to type these words now – making me feel as though this personable identity is ALL I am – a little deeper introspection into the whole spectrum of life and myself is all that’s actually needed to convince me of existences beyond the understanding of our limited conventional wisdom.

So, which makes the big fat joke?

The absoluteness of the physical life we’re living in, or the existences of cosmoses beyond this world?

You tell me : )


#125 Bacterias control our thoughts? Free will isn’t as free as we think

Posted: May 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 9 Comments »

Video description:

90% of our body is made of bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi…. 100 trillions of them! And each of these “living entities” has a clear evolutionary agenda. New research prove that bacterias in our guts “can” control our thoughts…

“Your honor, it was not me… The bug made me do it!”…and we know that there is a parasite that can “convince” a rat to stop being afraid of cats so that he can reproduce itself…

We should start considering our body not as a separate, unified, entity but a living conglomerate of decision making creatures with, at times, contrasting evolutionary needs…

This video was inspired by an article written by Christopher Koch on the May 2011 issue of Scientific American.

Even the smallest of things in our body, supposedly separate from our original physical composition can cause us to think in different ways.

So really, how much of what we think is decided by our own minds, our individual consciousness, or our ‘free will’?

Although it sounds ridiculous, but if bacterias play a part in influencing our thought patterns, it just means that our whole lives are just formed of ridiculous interpretations of who we think we are.

I mean, who’d like to admit their actions were the work of bacterias floating within their guts?

Hm.

If we can make peace with that, perhaps we can push ourselves further to move in the direction of caring, loving and accepting others more.

After all, we aren’t that conscious as we think we are, and pushing ourselves towards that direction is something we can urge ourselves into doing to ensure greater happiness as a whole, can’t we?


#124 The Enormous Role of the Little Thing, by David from Raptitude.com

Posted: April 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

My friend Neil makes an interesting point about happiness: those “peak” moments in life — the big achievements and big releases that we imagine to be exactly what happiness is made of — will never amount to more than a tiny proportion of a person’s life. They are infrequent and quickly give way to the ordinary again. We invest a lot of energy getting to those exceptional highs, but they are exactly that: exceptions to the normal course of life.

In between these “violin crescendo moments” life unfolds without much fanfare, in its familiar way. But within these ordinary stretches of life lie frequent, intensely gratifying moments that arise out of the most mundane activities: waiting in line, parking your car, watching a TV movie.

Even in the context of a really bad day, there are humble little details that seem to hit some kind of “smile” button in the brain, and for those moments, life is unfettered. It’s great. Life is great just knowing that each day will contain them no matter what else the cat drags in.

Other than Ben Franklin’s two dreadful certainties, nothing in life is guaranteed — except (if you’re paying attention) that there will be a steady stream of these humble little awesome things, regardless of your situation, as long as you live. This is a powerful thought and even throughout the worst days I’ve never been able to forget it for long because the reminders come along so frequently.

Ever since I included him a quick piece on three extraordinary blogs two years ago, Neil has been a friend of mine. I love his perspective on gratitude — it recognizes that the present moment really is the place to find everything you look for in life (and not just “in theory”), yet doesn’t stray into ego-dismantling, self-mortification or Stuart Smally-like affirmations. It takes playfulness, rather than determination.

I am not his only fan. Neil’s blog, 1000 Awesome Things hit its stride pretty quickly in 2008. He won the Webby Award the following year for Best Blog, leading to his first book The Book of Awesome, which became an international bestseller. Its sequel, The Book of (Even More) Awesome launched Tuesday.

There is something about couch cushion forts and the other side of the pillow that huge numbers of people seem to be able to identify with. I don’t recommend many (any?) products on this blog, but I’m all over this one. In terms of a practical, non-striving approach to cultivating quality of life, it’s hard to do better than to learn to celebrate these very things, just for what they are.

Recently I talked with Neil about the role of unhappiness in happiness, the role of “little thing” when it comes to quality of life, and cavemen. He’s a riot. Enjoy.

How’s it going?

Good, good, I’m good. Thanks for asking, David.

You mentioned in your TED talk that when you began 1000 Awesome Things, things were particularly not awesome. The global outlook was looking grim, and you were in an especially difficult part of your life. What was going on and how did it lead to starting the blog?

Whew. Well, let’s see here. We all go through our own ups and downs and back when I started writing 1000 Awesome Things I was definitely in a cloud of doom and gloom.

I’d been married two years and my wife and I were slowly growing further and further apart. We always had respect, admiration, and trust with each other, but… something was missing. It came to a head one night after work when she summoned the courage, through tears, to tell me she didn’t love me any more. It was one of the toughest things I’d ever heard.

At around the same time one of my closest friends was quietly battling mental illness. Chris and I spoke three or four times a week and I knew all his pills, his doctors, his efforts towards overcoming the thoughts and feelings inside his head. But very sadly… he lost the battle. He ended up taking his own life.

As all of this was slowly happening I remember feeling like I needed a way to focus on the positive… somehow. 1000 Awesome Things became my outlet and my way to remind myself of one tiny, simple, awesome thing every night before I went to bed. I started writing about snow days, cold pillows, and all you can eat buffets, as a way to cheer myself up.

Good old Nietzsche said, “For happiness, how little suffices for happiness! … the least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a wisk, an eye glance – little maketh up the best happiness.” You’ve really nailed this reality in your work. Yet most of the pressures in society direct us to seek happiness in the big things: big events, big achievements, big payoffs. When it comes to happiness in general, did you always recognize the enormous role of the little thing?

First off, I just want to say that I really like the phrase “Good ol’ Nietzsche!” Like he’s this hilarious guy on the wobbly barstool across the room. Ha ha…

Anyway, hmmm — you ask good questions, David. I knew you would. Okay, when it comes to happiness in general, I definitely have no idea what makes what or what adds up to what. I just feel like, sure — we’ll all have high highs of wide eyes on graduation stages, father-daughter dances at weddings, and healthy baby screeches in the delivery room. But those big violin crescendo moments are maybe.. like, five days total in your life? I mean, I get to flip to the cold side of the pillow every single night if I can’t fall asleep and every single time it gives me a tiny fleeting rush of ice cold satisfaction on my cheek. The same is true for the crisping croissant aroma wafting out of the bakery I pass every day on my way home from work. Or the string of green lights I hit on Friday afternoons.

So I’m not sure if I knew much about little things. I guess like most of us I just see, feel, and touch them so much more often. They fill my days, weeks, and months. They are everywhere and there are millions of them. So I give them big props. No offense to father-daughter dances at weddings, but I’ll take pushing those little plastic buttons on the McDonald’s drink cup lid any day.

Maybe it’s a guy thing, but one of my favorite awesome things in the new book is “Doing anything that makes you feel like a caveman.” You’ve mentioned cavemen a couple of times on the blog. I find it’s helpful to my sanity to remember that I’m really just a caveman who’s learned to wear pants and do some other fancy things. I clamber up staircases on all fours from time to time when nobody’s watching. You’ve talked about the simple, primal joys of staring into a fire, letting your body hair run rampant for a while, or just breaking something. What is it about embodying the caveman mindset now and then that’s so gratifying?

Yeah, that’s funny. The Book of (Even More) Awesome also has stepping on those slightly frozen ice puddles and hearing them crack and finally peeing after holding it forever (which is a bit of an indictment on this flashy modern World of Pants we’ve chosen to live in). Plus, blowing your nose in the shower is in my back pocket if we get another go round.

I guess when it comes to cavemen it’s like — we are them. They’re not what we used to be. They are us. We’ve been walking around Earth with big brains and tall backs for what — like a couple hundred thousand years? And spandex shorts, reading glasses, and deodorant has been around for what — a couple hundred maybe? So maybe all our caveman impulses like eating a plate of just meat at the buffet, not shaving your legs during sweatpant season, or just doing nothing in a tent in the middle of nowhere scratches our brain stems just the right way.

I can’t pretend I know the answer. But I love the question and I’d love to know what you and your readers think as well.

There is a particular type of awesome thing that you’ve talked about that is undeniably awesome but I can’t figure out why: stomping dry crunchy leaves on the sidewalk or popping bubble wrap, for example. For the life of me I cannot explain why I like doing all those things, but I always do, and I know it’s not just that you and I happen to have the same weird fetishes. Appreciation for these things seems to be pretty universal among human beings, even though they don’t seem to aid our survival or have any “practical” value. Why do you think so many of us happen to derive some joy out of, say, the sound of the tiny rocks shooting up the vacuum hose or kicking those dark chunks of slush out of our wheel wells? [Well we Canadians do, anyway.]

Does stabbing a knife into the beautifully brown landscape of a fresh jar of peanut butter count too?

Maybe it’s a bit of a personality trait of maximizers or completists or something. Maybe it’s the same itch that gets scratched when you cross off the last item of a list, fold your last pair of socks (and they all match up!), or when you spatula out the final pudding molecules out of that plastic cup of butterscotch.

That’s what has probably been the most compelling part of your books and your blog: knowing that I am experiencing all these amazing little moments alongside other human beings. I always knew them as private little joys, not realizing that these are things I share with other people. There has been such an outpouring of appreciation for your awesome things — by this point you’ve reached millions of people. When you began, did you realize how powerfully people resonated with these things? Or has this widespread reception been a surprise?

When I started 1000 Awesome Things the only person who read it was my mom.

I like to tell people that the traffic doubled the day she forwarded it to my dad. My parents were definitely the first two of the thirty million or so folks that have clicked the page. And there was no way, no way at all, could have expected the blog to amount to anything more than a simple way to jot down one awesome thing a day. That’s really all I’ve ever wanted or expected it to be. The fact that The Book of Awesome has been number one on bestseller lists for a year straight, that I got to write The Book of (Even More) Awesome, or that I’m on The Today Show next week…. believe me, these things are way beyond my wildest dreams.

At the end of the day, I still work my cubicle job in the suburbs, eat frozen burritos for dinner, and need to go to the gym more. The bags under my eyes are a bit darker and my hunch is getting a little sharper. But I don’t mind because I absolutely love and enjoy and value every tiny second I get to be alive and get to notice, appreciate, and talk about all the awesome things we share.

Thank you so much for the chat, David. You know how much I absolutely love Raptitude.com and I will be first in line when your book comes out. (Do it!) You’re a fantastic writer who I’ve learned a lot from. All the best my friend and keep popping bubble wrap and taking illegal naps every chance you get. Take care and thanks sincerely to all your readers,

Neil

———-

The Book of (Even More) Awesome is available here and I think you should get it.

(Him: David from Raptitude.com sometimes publishes exceptional articles that can turn one’s day from a bad one to a bright one. Since he carries good logic & awareness, most of the contents he publish are simple to read and understand. If you’d like to learn more from him, please kindly visit: http://www.Raptitude.com. I only knew about Neil after reading this piece of interview that David had done with him. But one thing’s for sure, I know that appreciating the simple little things in life is what will make us happier in life. He has definitely inspired a lot of smiles in people from all over the world because of the work he’s done. To read more about Neil, you can visit his website at: http://www.1000awesomethings.com/)


#123 The 5 Steps to Experiencing Bliss, by Mr. Ozwald

Posted: April 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

The key to complete liberation in your lifetime boils down to one simple thing. Learning how to keep your mind’s attention on what you want, and keeping it off of what you don’t want. The longer you can hold your attention on the feeling of bliss, the more often bliss-filed experiences manifest into your world. Bliss is always found in the last place you’d think to look, and for that reason very few discover it. The greatest thing of all is that this awesome experience can be found within you now, and you don’t have to do anything or go anywhere else to find it.

The greatest bliss within you now is found in that place which has no boundaries, no rules, no fears, personal agendas or agreements with anyone. It simply appreciates everyone and everything exactly as it is. It unconditionally loves and accepts life as it is. It is always in a state of total appreciation. This bliss comes from a love that is always abundant, generous, giving of itself and effortlessly feeling the natural positivity of life. It is a selfless love that is not perpetually desiring this or that, but rather is perpetually giving itself away. With all that said, the intrinsic value you’ll receive through tasting even just a few seconds of bliss is soooo amazing, that it’s not something you can even put into words.

If the state of ecstatic bliss feels too intangible and other worldly to grasp because you have too many “real life” issues in the way such as paying off your debt, bills, health issues, car problems, childhood trauma, or just showing up on time for work, please do not be concerned. There are steps you can take to uncover this divinely magical energy inside you! Bliss is a state of mind that is instantly found when we’ve fully released what was once tight or heavy inside ourselves and shift into a constant state of expansion and joy.

The spiritual path is the path of lightness, where your main job is to welcome each experience of life, then go beyond every thought, desire, judgment, sensation and experience that passes through you. Believe it or not but you signed up to have major blissful feelings in this lifetime. You wouldn’t be reading this article if you weren’t ready for it either. It’s as if you’ve been in training, carrying a load of rocks in your backpack up a treacherous mountain, and now you get to unload them all and enjoy the journey back home. The heavy negative life experiences you’ve had in the past were JUST so that it could have the experience of letting them go and feel the pure lightness, weightlessness and joy that comes when they are gone.

Your inner bliss can be revealed in a matter of minutes if you’re willing to do some deep self-exploration and let go of everything that is weighing heavy on your mind. When you deeply let go of any lofty or lowly ideas about your life’s purpose or personal agenda, and have released that all too critical mindset about yourself, the mind instantly becomes lighter and more free. This expansive spacious mind is the only welcome mat that can handle this infinitely expanding happy loving feeling. When your mind is truly empty, the Universe takes this as a sign that you’re ready to receive this divine experience and graces you with bliss.

Below are the 5 secret steps that will empower you to find bliss wherever you are, no matter who you think you are, or what life situation you may be in.

Step #1 Accept Yourself As You Are. If you want to find the greatest divine bliss inside you tonight, the first and perhaps most important step is to start with accepting yourself and your life exactly the way it is right now. Don’t think about what you need to change, improve and get rid of to make you or your life better. Just start with accepting everything inside you exactly the way it is, and know that within this feeling of self acceptance is self-love, which is the greatest gift you can give YOU!

By deeply accepting yourself it becomes easy to slip into appreciating yourself, and you soon begin to see all your opportunities for growth (problems) as exciting adventures to explore! Flipping on the self-acceptance switch as often as you can will light the pathway to bliss as the love you let in will advance your soul “light years” on your inner world. Self acceptance is the first essential key to get your happy engines spinning and start blasting open the door to bliss inside.

Step #2 Release your Addiction to Suffering. Whether you want to admit it or not, on some unconscious level some part of you is addicted to suffering. Now addiction may be a strong word here, yet it is essential to see the repetitive patterns you’ve created within you that create perpetual struggle, strife and mental/emotional challenges on your inner world. The thoughts that your mind constantly thinks about and can never find peace with are your biggest addictions to suffering. Worries, fears, insecurities and judgments create a majority of the internal battles and self-sabotaging patterns that people can experience hourly. These suffering habits tend to be very sneaky, and are often the main reason why most people believe they cannot enter this ideal state of bliss. Once you’ve looked inside yourself, come to know yourself and identified what your hab it is, you can transcend it. The moment you do you’ll find yourself slipping down the slope of joy…and ohh what a ride it is!

Something you may find interesting is that 99% of our worries never come true, and the ones that did manifest were karmically unavoidable. They say worrying is praying for what you don’t want, and basically its just negative thinking about the future. The worrying habit is often the hardest habit to overcome, yet can be easily transcended once the mind stops believing that holding onto these vital concerns are key ingredients to maintaining a successful life. Once you are conscious in each moment that each one of your thoughts manifest into your life, you can only think positively about yourself, the future, and you start to feel like a living breathing success! As you realize how this habit is merely an unconscious addiction that keeps you powerless and irresponsible for your divine manifesting power within, you will completely release this pattern of suffering and try ou t something new.

Step #3 Release your Attachment to Being Happy. You may not realize how much suffering is created by being attached to having to always be happy, and doing things that make you happy. What would happen if no action, event, person, or thing in your outer world created happiness for you anymore? Where would you find happiness? The key to finding real joy is never in anything “out there”, especially all your ideas about how your life should unfold. The greatest secret to finding happiness is diving into your inner world and finding total peace with the real YOU! When you are no longer attached to anything or anyone in the outer world making you happy, you take the reigns back on your life and can find pure joy inside your soul wherever you are.

One key element to unleashing the immense joy inside you is learning how to relax your body deeply and completely while maintaining present moment awareness. This means your body is relaxed, yet your mind is vigilantly alert and watching what is showing up without getting identified. Simply take a few minutes to stop doing those things you think will one day make you happy, and just practice relaxing your body completely. Try it! Rest fully into the very center of your heart, letting go into the very center of your being, and you’ll find total equanimity in your mind.

It is a law of nature that you cannot live in worry, negativity or fear when your body is physically at peace. When every tiny muscle is relaxed and completely still, every concern, fear, worry and negative thought will have disappeared from your mind. The mind and body behave as one unit, and when your body is at peace, you’ll instantly drop any attachment you have to how your life should be, or how your friends, family, work, money, and all those things which are “responsible” for making you happy.

The more you can master the experience of living in a relaxed body 24 hours a day, the more impossible it becomes to getting attached to anything in the outer world for making you happy. When you start to abide in this divine infinite realm of loving energy inside you, you’ll wonder why were you ever searching for it out there. The day you discover this profound inner peace in the most stressful, boring or ordinary situations in your life, you’ll become a HUGE ball of peace, love, joy and bliss!

Step #4 Let Go of The Mind’s Perpetual Efforting. When you have completely stopped making any effort to resist negative thinking, and released that unending push towards positive thinking, that is the same day that bliss will find you. When you can sit back and watch the mind without being involved, eventually in time it will give up its perpetual struggle. By making the simple choice to back off from your inner “thinker” and step back, below or behind these thoughts, you become the overriding master of your mind.

It’s ironic, yet the bliss we are all seeking is first initiated through the mind’s imagination, yet is truly discovered when you let go of the mind completely. The lightest and highest feeling of bliss cannot be found through forming any one thought or belief with your mind. That would narrow and squeeze your mind’s experience of life even tighter (like caffeine does) and not allow these cosmic blissful sensations the room they need to enter. True bliss is only found through divine openness and receptivity. When you are 100% free from all the ridiculous efforting of the mind, having no attachments to any agenda it forms, no attachment to any desires or disposition, you will fall into a deeply relaxed and sweet heavenly trusting space with life and bliss will take over you.

There are moments in everyone’s life where we get a glimpse of this succulent, spacious, peaceful place inside our mind. Yet, you’ll notice that in this space the mind is no where to be found and you feel even more conscious, alive, aware, and awake. This is the experience of your very essence, your innermost nature… the soul that you are! The feeling is sooo pleasant that you don’t want to form any desire or agenda for that would create too much pain. This spacious place is where your real freedom abides. It allows you to be free of the mind moving backwards or forwards in time, because when you’re in bliss you have no fear, no worries or memories to deal with. When this grounded spaciousness finds you, you will be arriving in the beloved land of bliss. It is an experience that is meant for those who are ready and will ing to be touched by the Divine.

Step #5 Quiet your Mind and Completely Be Still. When you have fully emptied your inner container of plans, agendas, fears, worries, concerns, and positive thinking your brain may not know what to do with itself. It will most likely try to reform some random idea to hold onto to give it some stability. When your body is deeply relaxed and your mind is truly empty, make the golden pillar of your life total silence and stillness. When you reach the mountain peak of consciousness everything is divinely still. These profoundly quiet moments within instantly pave fresh new neuronal pathways in your brain for having many more blissed-out experiences of life.

To arrive at complete stillness, it takes outrageous courage. You must have vigilance with the mind, the strength to hold on to stillness when you cannot, and the trust to let go of the process all at the same time. By deeply trusting everything that shows up when you venture into the unknown empty zone of no-mind, this totally quiet and profound stillness will pour into you. The more time you spend in stillness, then bliss has to become your ordinary mode of operation. The first time it happens you may be able to handle it for a few minutes, yet with practice you’ll get better at it. When you can hang for a few hours in this cosmic space it will totally alter your life (and everybody else’s life that you know) forever in the most positive ways.

As you discover that your real work here on Earth is not “out there” yet finding the pathway to bliss within, all 5 of these steps will naturally unfold for you. The greatest experience of your lifetime is being filled with bliss all day and night long. Just open your mind to this possibility, follow the 5 steps above and you’ll soon find it start seeping in. .The experience of complete bliss is your soul’s destiny. Why make up some ridiculous reason that you don’t deserve it? You are a mixture of both human and divine, and so it is your divine right to own this joyous sensation. You’ll see, keep pondering over these 5 steps and you will disco ver total bliss sooner than later.

(Him: If you’d like to learn more from Mr. Ozwald, kindly visit his website at: www.enlightenedbeings.com. He has a series of free books, information and some good products for the average person to learn more from on the topic of happiness. Of course, I’d prefer to share all the best information I have for free whenever possible. Mr. Ozwald makes a living from his website, so naturally people would have to exchange money for some of the information he provides. Nonetheless, even though paying for it may not be most ideal, his information can make very good reminders on how we can live our lives better. Hope you’ll find them helpful.)


#122 Be Who I Am, Or Be Who I Should Be?

Posted: March 5th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 2 Comments »

Life is funny.

One moment you think you’re fine and feeling okay, the next moment something happens and all your mind & body’s energy is focused on it and you’re drained from morning to night trying to figure out how to do what’s right.

Anyone get what I’m talking about?

This is an article I’m writing to advise myself about what to do in the event the above happens. I hope as you read what will be written here, you’ll learn something valuable to benefit yourself too.

So recently, I’ve engaged myself with an insurance savings company.

As much as I’d like to think I’m free of attachments and can ease into the world comfortably, sometimes the world forces one to entertain its mirage of plays and makes one strive in order to achieve what he or she wants.

I realized that with all that we’ve learned in this world, we’ll still be bound to meet with the paradoxes of choice some time in our lives.

In my case, the paradox is whether to:

1.) Be a truly genuine & empathetic person even while going about doing sales, and

2.) Be an aggresive & goal-oriented salesman while going about doing sales.

Why can these two situations above cause a spear-shield situation (There’s a story about this man going about a marketplace. As he was coursing through the crowds, he saw a salesman holding a spear up high in the air exclaiming: “I have the best spear in the world, it can pierce through anything!” A moment later, he withdrawn a shield and proudly exclaimed: “I also have the best shield in the world, there’s nothing that can ever penetrate it!” Seeing this, the man walked over to the salesman and asked: “So if you use the spear that can pierce anything to strike the shield that nothing can penetrate through, what will happen?” That’s the spear-shield situation.)?

In #1, I can be who I am.

In #2, I should be who I should be.

I believe many people in the world today are facing with a similar problem.

The question is:

“What should we do in this kind of situation?”

I’m afraid I have no fully satisfactory answer to this question myself, other than these two words which have just arisen out of my mind, two words I’ve learned from the teachings of great philosophers & teachers which I believe can most closely gratify this situation today:

Just be.”

The above can be a very amazing reminder if we can fully appreciate its intended meaning through slow appreciation for each of its two words.

Their goal is to let one merge with the Process, instead of the events that either happened in the past or will happen in the future.

Their purpose is to allow you to be who you are, and be who you should be.

As many of the world’s most successful people have affirmed, their greatest feelings of success & achievements actually come from the process of their working through the highs and lows, after all.

In any given circumstance, sometimes we want to make choices that contribute towards the wellbeing of our lives.

Therefore, we may plan for the future, and base much of our plans to avoid possible pains or to pursue after satisfactory pleasure through our memories & experiences from the past.

However, most of the time a lot of different efforts are involved to execute our plans.

Some of those efforts involve doing things we don’t want to do, don’t like to do, or simply have no interest in doing, e.g. being pushy as a salesperson, asking for another’s money & etc.

So with these two words, we can remind ourselves to do what is most right when different situations arise, without letting the “Mind Chatter” in our brains drag us in the wrong way.

As we know, this “Mind Chatter” within our brains more often than not only causes us trouble & misfortune.

If we allow it to drag us with it, who knows what kinds of stupid things more of us will do.

The words “Just be” can bring our consciousness back from being wallowed in the shadow of thoughts and let one do more of the right things.

Whether your goal is to be genuine, to be fluent in the execution of an action or to be successful at accomplishing a goal, these two words can allow you to be fully versatile & moldable throughout every second of the minute to manifest your ideal more comfortably.

So with these lessons shared, it’s time to apply what we know in our daily lives.

After all, nothing happens unless we take that picture in our brain and paint it out on the outside world.

Just be.


#121 What Blocks Happiness, by Ezra Bayda

Posted: February 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

Below is an excerpt from Ezra Bayda’s new book, Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment:

The real question we need to ask ourselves is: why do we continue to follow behaviors that don’t bring us real happiness? The answer lies in the basic human condition: that is, we are born with the innate craving for safety, security, and control—this is an integral part of our survival mechanism. We are also born with an aversion to discomfort and a natural desire for comfort and pleasure. Given these basic human predispositions, it makes sense that our learned strategies of behavior are geared to ensure that our cravings and desires are met.

On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with trying to be safe or comfortable. The problem begins when our survival mode takes over and becomes our main motivation. When that happens, our other natural urges—curiosity, appreciation, and living from our true openhearted nature—are pushed aside, and consequently, our lives become narrower and increasingly less satisfying. Paradoxically, we continue to believe that our survival-based control strategies will make us happy, so we keep on trying harder or seeking approval; yet these very behaviors often bring us the most dissatisfaction.

Opening our eyes to what we’re doing is not always easy. Our habits of behavior, like trying harder and seeking approval, can become so deeply conditioned that we can hardly see them. Even when our behaviors don’t make us happy, we often don’t notice because we so firmly believe that they will! One very effective way to cut through our usual blindness is to ask the following questions: “Am I truly happy right now?” and “What blocks happiness?” To reflect on these two questions only takes a few moments, and if you do it several times a day, over a period of time you will begin to observe, very specifically, all the behaviors that directly block genuine happiness.

Trying harder and seeking approval are two of the most widespread conditioned behaviors for achieving happiness.. Almost equally common are our many addictive behaviors, starting with our addictions to pleasure and diversions. In themselves, pleasure and diversions are fine, and they can certainly make us feel good. But whenever we have addictive behaviors—whether to food, alcohol, sex, or working out—we are driven by the compulsion to keep returning to whatever we’re addicted to, in the promise that it will continue to make us feel good.

Pursuing our addictive behaviors highlights the very essence of the human tendency to misunderstand happiness. We follow these seductive behaviors because they seem to promise us happiness. And to some degree, they fulfill their promise, in that we feel personally happy when we experience sensual pleasure or the hit of endorphins. But the fulfillment of that promise is always temporary, and it is always based on a temporarily benevolent external environment. As long as the environment doesn’t turn against us, we think our life is okay, and we don’t do anything to change the situation. Nor do we address the underlying unease out of which the addictive behaviors arise: why upset the applecart when things seem to be okay? Thus, we remain on the treadmill of personal happiness/unhappiness. When we don’t feel so good, we find a fix, and then we think we are happy again. The cycle goes on and on; meanwhile, genuine happiness eludes us.

We will continue to pursue the conditioned strategies of behavior that we hope will bring us happiness as long as we believe they are working. And because they sometimes do bring us some degree of personal happiness, these behaviors can get reinforced for a long time. That’s how people get caught on the treadmill of their attachments and routines for a lifetime without making any effort to change. Paradoxically, we’re actually fortunate if life occasionally serves us a big dose of disappointment, because it forces us to question whether our attachments and strategies really serve us. When we truly see that what we’ve been doing simply isn’t effective in bringing us genuine happiness, we may be motivated enough to take the next step.

Each of us has to examine where and how we get in our own way, observing all the ways we block fundamental happiness. Specifically, we need to look at all of our conditioned behaviors—our strategies of control and our addictive tendencies. We’ve spent our whole life believing these things would give us happiness, when in fact if we look deeply, they’ve done just the opposite. But until we see this clearly—until we’ve seen the many things we do to get in our own way—we won’t be motivated to go beyond our small measures of personal happiness, toward cultivating the roots of true contentment.

(For more information about Ezra Bayda, please visit www.zencentersandiego.org .)


#120 Quotes from Nisargadatta Maharaj

Posted: February 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

From ‘Consciousness and the Absolute’ by Nisargadatta Maharaj:

People identify me with their concepts and they do what their concepts tell them. It is consciousness which is manifest, nothing else. Who is talking, who is walking, who is sitting? These are the expressions of that chemical “I Am”. Are you that chemical? You talk about heaven and hell, this Mahatma or that one, but how about you? Who are you? In meditation, one sees a lot of visions. They are in the chemical, the realm of your consciousness, are they not? All these things are connected only to that birth-chemical. You are not this chemical “I Am”.

All these activities go on, but they are only entertainment. The waking and deep sleep states come and go spontaneously. Through the sense of “I”, you spontaneously feel like working. But find out if this sense of “I” is real or unreal, permanent or impermanent.

The Ultimate state in spirituality is that state where no needs are felt at any time, where nothing is useful for anything. That state is called Nirvana, Nirguna, that which is the Eternal and Ultimate Truth. The essence and sum total of this whole talk is called Sat-guru Parabrahman, that state in which there are no requirements.

Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go of everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go of everything. The giving up is the final step. But the real giving up is in realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep – you do not give up your bed when you fall asleep – you just forget it.

The essence of the body is the essence of the foodstuff, and this consciousness lies dormant in it from the very beginning. In that state of consciousness is the entire universe. Having seen this, whoever has understood is bound to be quiet, knowing that this is only a transient happening. An enormous structure of concepts being taught to us as knowledge is based on the simple appearance of consciousness.

Recite the sacred name, that is all right, but the important thing is to recognize and understand what is the presiding principle by which you know you are and by which you perceive everything else. You must look at yourself, get to know yourself. The riddle of spirituality cannot be solved by your intellect. At the most, your intellect can provide you with livelihood.

Any thought that you have reached or are going to reach that state is false. Whatever happens in consciousness is purely imaginary, an hallucination; therefore, keep in mind the knowledge that it is consciousness in which everything is happening. With that knowledge, be still, do not pursue any other thoughts which arise in consciousness. What is necessary is to understand with sure conviction is that all is temporary, and does not reflect your true state.

You are afraid because you have assumed something as ‘I am’, which actually you are not. Suppose you find a diamond ring on the road and you pocket it. Since it is not yours, a fear overcomes you. When you put on an identity that is not yours, you are afraid. When you are the pure ‘I amness’ only, there is no fear. Presently you are this ‘I am’, but this ‘I am’ is not the truth. Whatever you are prior to the appearance of ‘I am’, that is your real nature.

(For more info about Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, please visit: http://www.nisargadatta.co.cc)


#119 What Life is About

Posted: February 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

(Him: Here’s a reply I’ve given to someone who mentioned that after learning to be in the Now, the present moment, of being nondual, he finds it hard to get things done. As in, because he is so present, his mind isn’t focused when doing something like studying because he isn’t motivated by a future reason. He felt as if time has lost its meaning, so he isn’t making the best use of it. He then proceeded to ask whether there’s any way he can feel ‘separate’ from the now again, to have a body and mind and time. This is understandable, because famous books on the “Now” subject e.g. Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle sometimes indicate that these disappear when one is emerged fully in the present moment. Of course, no one is ever wrong in these kinds of circumstances. Because the one who’s really wrong is the context. Different contexts lead to different purposes and endings. And through my reply below, I try to answer his question as straight as my heart feels is right.)

Let go…

The fullest let go is nonduality isn’t it.

In that state you neither not do or do, but follow life.

For me, the only benefit of understanding nonduality in its fullest just lets me know that I’m supposed to embrace more of life.

This means, not avoiding truth, not ignoring truth, or not preventing ourselves from being happy and at peace.

When someone holds the thought “now, now, now” all the time, one’s being attached to something, as it is the same with being attached to fame, glory, money, etc.

Rather, we live genuinely, with heart, with care, to honor our parents, and to keep our family harmonious.

Note that family here, doesn’t just apply to our blood related bonds, or close friends.

But everyone out there.

To see a cleaner, and to smile at her. To thank a maid. To do what you’ve always thought is nice to do but was shy to do it.

Making nonduality another spiritual teaching is like subscribing to a new TV channel.

But life doesn’t just happen inside the TV.

It happens out and about it.

It happens all the time, everywhere.

As the Shaolin teaching goes, “Follow fate your whole life”.

This is without making fate another concept to grasp, but an advice to give yourself when you need to remind yourself of not attaching yourself to something, and instead choose to always let go and be forgiving in times of pleasure or disappointment.

As another Chinese saying goes, “When a family is harmonious, everything one does prospers.” You see, this quote doesn’t flower when it is just made to be an advice to heed, but when it is made a devotion, a devotion to honor our parents with utmost gratitude, and to treat others as though they’re part of the family – because when your family (your heart) isn’t harmonious, many things you do will usually fail. When the above is practiced well, one will realize that his/her own actions tend to give more happiness to him/herself.

And as strange as it seems, life will tend to get better as well – yes, even in the material sense of the word.

One’s life won’t necessarily prosper after studying nonduality. Rather, the main purpose of the teaching is to allow one to see life through a more real, more full, more genuine perception of the world. As a result of this seeing, one can then improve him or herself through practical reasons, and become better people.

Trying not to become a person may be another attachment.

For me, being in the now just means this, and this only –

Being appreciative.

When we can appreciate something to the fullest, anything we appreciate can be looked at as God, or the movement of God.

The funny thing is most of us in the world just don’t choose to appreciate everything, and so that amazing something/feeling subsides from everything.

Harmonious family, appreciation, being a good person.

I think putting our minds on those three things are better than grasping on an idea that leads nowhere – a direction it didn’t mean to point you to in the first place.

Hope that helps.

Thanks.


#118 Does Awareness Arise from the Brain, by Greg Goode

Posted: February 3rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 1 Comment »

It is never our experience that witnessing awareness is not present. Therefore it is never our direct experience that witnessing awareness comes into existence based on a causal process. The process itself must appear in witnessing awareness, which was there “first.” Awareness is always and already.

There is no contradiction between nonduality and neuroscience. Neuroscience measures a subtle object. This subtle object is a kind of sentience, a local reactivity associated with a biological organism. This sentience is an arising in the witnessing awareness that is your true nature, your direct experience, infinite sweetness and unconditional love.

Nonduality and neuroscience – you can think of them as different songs.

This part on the brain is taken from a large section dealing with the body. The body is not often dealt with in nondual teachings, writings and gatherings. But it is just as much a part of experience as emotions, thoughts and feelings!

Actually, your direct experience can show you directly, in the here-and-now, that:

  • The “body” is not a physical object.
  • The “body” is not a separate object endowed with a separate sentience.
  • The “body” is not a container of awareness.
  • Rather, the body, like the world, is awareness itself.

That is, in direct experience you can discover that the “body” is actually the body of love and the world of light: pure clarity and unconditional openness. The body is actually the world – there is no difference to be found. It is the global world of experience in which there is no inside/outside, no here/there, no separation and no suffering.

But what about the brain? Many credible scientists say that awareness is a produce of brain chemistry. What about that??

…the pinkish gray meat between our ears produces the richness of experiential awareness. — Science and Nonduality Conference website

In college I dissected brains. As an undergrad student, I was a physiological psychology major. Many people, even folks attracted to nondualism, think that the brain is what gives rise to awareness. But is that our direct experience? –Greg

There is no contradiction between nonduality and neuroscience. Neuroscience measures a subtle object. This subtle object is a kind of sentience, a local reactivity associated with a biological organism. This sentience is an arising in the witnessing awareness that is your true nature, your direct experience, infinite sweetness and unconditional love. –Greg

The World

When looked at very closely, physical objects are not to be found. They melt directly into awareness. Your direct experience of a physical object is nothing more than colors, sounds, textures, sensations of hardness, softness, moistness or dryness. Each of these sensations is inseparable from its exclusive sensory modality. In other words,

  • colors are inseparable from vision,
  • sounds are inseparable from hearing
  • sensations of texture, hardness, softness, moisture or dryness are inseparable from touch
  • flavors are inseparable from taste
  • fragrances are inseparable from smell

Even in imagination, “sense objects” cannot appear apart from “sense faculties.” This is shocking if it is “grokked.” For example, if it is deeply understood how a color can never be experienced separately from seeing, then it simply makes no sense to believe that you can “see a color.” Colors aren’t objects hanging around outside awareness, waiting to be seen. Rather, the arising of color is what we mean by “seeing.” The way we ordinarily speak of seeing in the everyday sense, we allow that an object is present whether currently seen or not. In the everyday sense, if your cat runs out of the bedroom, you think of the cat as existing, but momentarily unseen. The cat can be seen, and it can be unseen. When it is unseen, it is simply “somewhere else.”

But of course in our direct experience of color, an unseen color is never experienced. The absence of a color is never experienced. If a color is not something experienced as absent, then it can’t be the kind of thing that is experienced to be present. A color, like any other “arising,” is not the kind of thing that can alternate between being present and absent. You can’t have a one-sided coin. If you can’t have one side of a pair of opposites, then you can’t have the other side either. So neither “present” nor “absent” applies to an arising.

This is our direct experience “of the world.” Neither present nor absent, but experienced as awareness itself.

(This is just half of the full article written by Greg Goode. Please read the rest of it at: http://greggoode.stillnessspeaks.com/ssblog/awareness_and_brain/)


#117 Life, by Earl Stanley Gardner

Posted: January 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

[Below is an excerpt from the book “The Case of the Haunted Husband, A Perry Mason Mystery”.]

By Earl Stanley Gardner

Mrs. Greeley, garbed in black and carrying a light suitcase, stood in the corridor.

“Come in,” Mason invited, reaching out and taking the suitcase; and when she had entered the office and he had closed the door, he went on, “Sit down, Mrs. Greely. I’m sorry we had to intrude on your dinner.”

“Oh, it’s all right. To be perfectly frank, Mr. Mason, I don’t suppose I should go out so soon, but I feel a lot better doing that than I would sitting home and doing nothing. It’s a frightfully all-gone feeling.”

“I understand.”

“I guess people never realize how much they take for granted in life,” she said with a little laugh. “Here it was only last week I was fussing because my husband had to work so much at night, and now… and now… Oh, well, I’ll get to feeling sorry for myself if I keep on. Wish I could get something to work on – something to sink my teeth into.

“Death is so horribly final, Mr. Mason. I – I’ve never been touched closely by death before. Somehow, it shakes my faith in… things… And no one’s been able to say anything that helps. Death is … it’s cruel, it’s terrible.”

“It’s no more terrible than birth,” Mason said. “We can’t understand it any more than we can understand life – or the sky at night. If we only had the vision to see the whole pattern of life, we’d see death as something benign.”

She stared up at him. “Please go on. If you can only say something practical and sensible. I’ve heard so much hypocritical ‘all-for-the-best’ business that I’m sick and tired of it. How can it be for the best? Bosh!”

Mason said, “Suppose you couldn’t remember anything from one day to the next. You’d get up in the morning without any recollection of yesterday. You’d feel full of energy. Dew would be on the grass. The sun would be shining bright and warm. Birds would be singing, and you’d feel that nature was a wonderful thing. Then the sun would rise higher in the heavens. You’d begin to get a little fatigued.

“Along about noon you’d be tired, then clouds would blot out the sun. There’d be a thunder squall, and the heavens which had once been so friendly would be menacing. You’d see water falling out of the sky, and would wonder if you were going to be totally submerged. You’d see spurts of lightning tearing the sky apart. You’d hear roaring thunder. You’d be in terror.

“Then the clouds would drift away. The sun woud come out again. The air would be pure and sparkling. You’d regain your confidence. Then you’d notice that the shadows were lenghthening. The sun would disappear. There’d be darkness. You’d huddle around a light waiting to see what would happen next. You’d feel weary, more than a little frightened. You’d think that nature, which had started out to be so beautiful, had betrayed you. You’d fight hard to keep your faith, and it would be a losing battle.

“The love ones who were sitting around the fire with you would show signs of fatigue. Their heads would nod forward. They’d lie down. Their eyes would close, and suddenly their personalities would be gone. Then you yourself would want to lie down, and yet you’d feel that as soon as you did, this awful unconsciousness would come over you…”

Mason broke off, smiled and said, “My words don’t carry conviction because you do know all of these symptoms as a part of life. You know that this unconsciousness is only sleep. You know that in the course of a few short hours, you’ll wake up completely refreshed, that the dawn will be breaking, that the sun will be coming up,the birds singing. You know that the awful visitation of noise and flashes was only a thunder shower, part of nature’s scheme to bring water from the ocean up into the mountains, to feed the streams and the rivers, to make the crops green. You’d realize that sleep is nature’s means of strengthening you for a new day, that it’s profitless to try to prolong the waking activities too far into the night, that nature is co-operating with you. But suppose you didn’t understand these things? Suppose you could see only from day to day?”

She nodded slowly. After a moment, she heaved a deep sigh.

Mason said, “Life is like that. We can only see from birth to death. The rest of it is cut off from our vision.”

Drake stared up at Mason. “I’ll be doggoned,” he said.

“What’s the matter, Paul?”

“I never knew you were a mystic.”

“I’m not a mystic,” Mason said, smiling. “It’s simply the applications of what you might call legal logic to the scheme of existence, and I don’t ordinarily talk that way. I’m doing it now because I think Mrs. Greeley needs it.”

Mrs. Greeley said with feeling, “Mr. Mason, I can’t begin to tell you how much better you have made me feel. Your words carry conviction. I… I guess I’m getting my faith back.”

Mason said, “I don’t think you’d ever lost it, Mrs. Greeley. Now this is going to be disagreeable. Do you want to get it over with as quickly as possible?”

“I don’t care,” she said. “I… Oh, Mr. Mason, I can’t tell you how much you’ve comforted me. After all, death is only a sleep. It has to be. I’m ashamed of myself, Mr. Mason. I was doubting the whole scheme of things. I was… Is this someone coming?”

“Should be Lieutenant Tragg,” Mason said. “You know him.”

“Oh, yes.”

Photo: Earl Stanley Gardner
The Case of the Haunted Husband is available on Amazon.

(Him: Fiction books sometime carry with them some of the most philosophically or logically inspiring statements. And most of the time, they aren’t inspiring unless they somehow convey the truth. Earl Stanley Gardner’s The Case of the Haunted Husband in this case, perhaps exhibited some of the Earl’s observations about life. Since it’s fiction, authors are also free to express words they usually can’t. If you’d to learn about another fiction with a similar nature and haven’t read this book called “Tuesdays with Morrie”, please do kindly get it on Amazon as well – I believe you’ll be pleased with it.)


#116 Stand in Your Own Two Shoes, by Adyashanti

Posted: December 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Life | 1 Comment »

The real search isn’t a search into tomorrow, or to anywhere other than now. It’s starting to look into the very nature of this moment. In order to do that, you have to “stand in your own two shoes,” as my teacher used to say. What she meant by “standing in your own two shoes” is you have to look clearly into your own experience. Stop trying to have someone else’s experience. Stop chasing freedom or happiness, or even spiritual enlightenment. Stand in your own shoes, and examine closely: What’s happening right here and right now? Is it possible to let go of trying to make anything happen? Even in this moment, there may be some suffering, there may be some unhappiness, but even if there is, is it possible to no longer push against it, to try to get rid of it, to try to get somewhere else?

I understand that our instinct is to move away from what’s not comfortable, to try to get somewhere better, but as my teacher used to say, “You need to take the backward step, not the forward step.” The forward step is always moving ahead, always trying to attain what you want, whether it’s a material possession or inner peace. The forward step is very familiar: seeking and more seeking, striving and more striving, always looking for peace, always looking for happiness, looking for love. To take the backward step means to just turn around, reverse the whole process of looking for satisfaction on the outside, and look at precisely the place where you are standing. See if what you are looking for isn’t already present in your experience.

So, again, to lay the groundwork for awakening, we must first let go of struggling. You let go by acknowledging that the end of struggle is actually present in your experience now. The end of struggle is peace. Even if your ego is struggling, even if you’re trying to figure this out and “do it right,” if you really look, you might just see that struggle is happening within a greater context of peace, within an inner stillness. But if you try to make stillness happen, you’ll miss it. If you try to make peace happen, you’ll miss it. This is more like a process of recognition, giving recognition to a stillness that is naturally present.

We’re not bringing struggle to an end. We’re not trying to not struggle anymore. We’re just noticing that there is a whole other dimension to consciousness that, in this very moment, isn’t struggling, isn’t resentful, isn’t trying to get somewhere. You can literally feel it in your body. You can’t think your way to not struggling. There isn’t a three-point plan of how not to struggle. It’s really a one-point plan: Notice that the peace, this end of struggling, is actually already present.

The process is therefore one of recognition. We recognize that there is peace now, even if your mind is confused. You may see that even when you touch upon peace now, the mind is so conditioned to move away from it that it will try to argue with the basic fact of peace’s existence within you: “I can’t be at peace yet because I have to do this, or that, or this question hasn’t been answered, or that question hasn’t been answered, or so-and-so hasn’t apologized to me.” There are all sorts of ways that the egoic mind can insist that something needs to happen, something needs to change, in order for you to be at peace. But this is part of the dream of the mind. We’re all taught that something needs to change for us to experience true peace and freedom.

Just imagine for a moment that this isn’t true. Even though you may believe that it’s true, just imagine for a moment: What would it be like if you didn’t need to struggle, if you didn’t need to make an effort to find peace and happiness? What would that feel like now? And just take a moment to be quiet and see if peace or stillness is with you in this moment.

– Adyashanti, from Falling Into Grace: Insights on the End of Suffering

(Him: Recently, I’ve been more and more at peace with life. Strangely, I would say the same a year ago, and mean entirely different things. Today, it’s more like being able to be so present, that I can discern thoughts, feelings and emotions from a foundation of stillness and still let them play their roles as they need to.

On the other hand, as this article describes, I also constantly stand back instead of moving forward. On the material world, I am indeed moving forward. But all actions are done more from a presence that reminds itself of equality, what matters to me personally and philosophically, and what makes me at peace (it’s a subtle passion which runs the train from behind the scenes). And these reminders don’t happen in such a way that my mind is clogged with it. It’s an understanding, and this understanding just sweeps away things in the face of the really important things in life.

Pain gives us valuable lessons. The challenge is to understand what these lessons are, and heed them on a neutral basis. From there, we learn more and more. Today, I live to be humble and to serve. You see, there is no one particular way to live. There is only a present moment which asks us whether we’re up to serve what’s around us, to appreciate what’s around us, or to love whoever is around us. From there, just sometimes, maybe letting the mind play itself some dramatic or beautiful motion picture for a little while, is fine. It’s entertaining in its own right.)

“One day at a time – this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past, for it is gone: and do not be troubled about the future, for it has not yet come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful that it will be worth remembering.” – Ida Scott Taylor, 1820-1915, Author.


#115 Wrong About Everything, by Vicky Woodyard

Posted: December 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Life | No Comments »

I am wrong about everything when I am in my head. My head has been on so many trips it flies Medallion Class, but that’s another story. Once it got stranded at the Munich airport for three days and lived on head cheese, which luckily is available there. Another time I took a head trip to a famous guru who also lived in his head. He thought he was enlightened and so did his students. We all sat around and sang “I Ain’t Got Nobody,” but turns out he was lacking a heart as well. One by one the students caught on and became entangled in yet another head trip.

That leads me to yet another conclusion. We are all wrong about everything when we are in our heads. The head is no place to live; there’s just not enough room in there. We have all heard the phrase that some place had no head room; well, the head has no heart room, which is even worse. Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” He thought he was A Head of His Time, but we all know better. It should read, “I think, therefore, I am wrong.” For head trips are extraneous; no one need make them.

It is healthy to be wrong; try it sometime. You don’t have to wait until you get a ticket for following too close, which happened to a zealous spiritual student I know. His guru slapped with him a ticket and made him stay ten feet behind him at all times. He said he didn’t have ten feet, so his guru reduced the sentence to two feet. (I am writing this, so I can take ridiculous liberty with the law. By the way, the Law of One states that there is no duality, so be advised. You can’t really stand on your own two feet, much less stay ten feet behind anyone.) Someone is writing this and someone is reading it, which already confuses the heck out of me. Who is my audience and why are they reading this drivel. One of us is clearly wrong. As the Everly Brothers sing, “Let It Be Me.”

I love being wrong; it makes no sense, which proves that I am out of my mind and therefore not in my head. (I am inventing theorems as I go along.) People that make sense are up to no good. The Talking Heads made a movie called Stop Making Sense. I may make Look Who’s Talking III, about how no one has it right. The love of being wrong should be taught in every womb before the fetus even emerges. That way, we could start our lives with one big cleansing apology. Our parents would forgive us. Our mothers for giving them stretch marks; our fathers for depleting their bank accounts.

I just have one more thing to say. Being wrong is the new right.

Vicki Woodyard,
http://www..nondualitynow.com

(Him: I fully endorse Vicki Woodyard’s teachings. Why? Because her life was surrounded by cancer, by enough pain. Her daughter died of cancer, and her husband as well. She had to endure countless pains in order to learn what she knows today. As I believe, “Pain enlightens one”. It makes people mature. It makes one wiser than the rest of the world when it comes to the subject of peace and happiness. If you’d like to learn more from Vicki, please kindly visit: http://www.nondualitynow.com. Thanks.)