Sunday, June 30, 2013

Doubt & the Path

     "'True love and prayer are learned in the moment when prayer has become impossible and the heart has turned to stone.' Thomas Merton

     This is something I experienced myself after about 12 years of practice, when I went through a period of several months where nothing made sense anymore. By just staying with the experience and not buying into the story that everything was wrong - that I was wrong, the practice was wrong, the teacher was wrong - I pulled out of it and entered into practice much more deeply than I ever had before. So I think it's really important for all of us to understand that dry spots are a very natural part of practice and that they don't mean we're a failure on the path."     Ezra Bayda, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

     See also:

Martha on her path

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Self-concepts, Worldviews, & Concepts Beyond Words

     "When the ego-sense is relaxed, when a sense of the infinite & eternal replaces our usual narrow self-centeredness with all its passing, unsatisfying fantasies, there is no longer a mental basis for fear, hatred, anxiety, anger, attachment, desire. Instead, the perfectly harmonious functioning of the cosmos operates through us – and the cosmos is always in balance, always at peace with itself. 
     The Christian message is essentially a call to be universal – a call to become cosmically conscious. It is a call to place God at the center of ourselves, not through blind faith but through insightful awareness, not through rigid adherence to ritual and dogma but through graceful expression of cosmic principles. It is a call to ‘be as gods.’” John White
       Grof S ed. Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution. State University of New York Press, Albany, 1988.

      "It happens completely on its own when a human being questions, wonders, listens, and looks without getting stuck in fear. When self-concern is quiet, in abeyance, heaven and earth are open." Toni Packer

Bruce Spell

Friday, June 28, 2013

Embracing Difficulties

     "One of the most crucial things for students to learn, not just at the beginning of the practice but at any point along the path, is that obstacles are the path. Whenever an obstacle arises, we need to ask ourselves, Can I see this as my path? Can I see it not as an obstacle on the path, but as the path itself? Can I welcome this as the way to become free? But we have such an instinctual aversion to discomfort that when an obstacle arises, we forget to ask the simple question, Can I see this as my path?"     Ezra Bayda, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

     Toni Packer's wise words:

Ryan Creary

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Essential Wise Nurturing ... in Teaching, Healing, Marriage, Parenting, Friendship ...

     Wisdom is essential for unconditional love; to allow us to hold ourselves & others in meditative equipoise; to allow ourselves & others simply to be; to allow ourselves & others to make many, inevitable, normal mistakes - not judge, blame & shame - but to seamlessly accept, learn & grow.
     We inevitably mature into wise, nurturing grandparents to ourselves, others, the universe.

      “When preferences for a particular experience fade, the myriad things come forward to play, shimmering with suchness. Obviously, flowers and trees do this, but so do beer cans and microwaves. They’re all waiting for our embrace. It is enormously empowering to inhabit a world so vibrant with singularity.”
Darlene Cohen, Buddhadharma: The practioner’s quarterly, Spring 2007

Richard J.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

From Shame to Courageous Imperfection, Vulnerability, Authenticity

     “Shame absolutely unravels connection. And shame can be understood as the fear of disconnection. Is there something about me, that if people see it, I won’t be worthy of connection? What underpins this is excruciating vulnerability. In order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen – really seen. … The one thing that keeps us out of connection is our fear that we’re not worthy of connection.
     The original meaning of courage - derived from coeur - was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart. To have the courage to be imperfect.”             Brene Brown PhD 

     Within theistic traditions "guilt" can be a dominant factor. I suspect "shame" is more accurate. A sense of worthlessness ("worthless sinner") is profoundly disconnecting (on earth & heaven), and may lead to desperate longing to connect with a religious community that would take them in.

       See also:

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Liberation from "me, myself and I" - Realizing No Self

     "'In kensho we realize there is no intrinsic, permanent "I." We are completely free.' ... No limited ego that imprisons one in time and place, birth and death, but rather a universal 'I' that is boundlessly liberated, at home everywhere in ... the 'homeland of the heart.'"

       Gregory Shepherd, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013


Monday, June 24, 2013

Fear-driven Orthodoxy vs Responsibility for Being a Light Unto Ourselves

     "Every religion, at least sometimes, claims that its forms - its literature, its doctrines, its practices - derive from a source of unimpeachable authority. This includes Buddhism. ... Many times I have heard teachers say that since masters of the past were more accomplished than we are and knew what they were doing, we can't tamper with established forms. That even a nontheist religion like Buddhism tends so often to rely on an inflexible source for its forms indicates how desperately many humans long to deflect responsibility for shaping their religious lives." 

       Rita Gross, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

'no mud, no lotus' necklace from:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Porousness, Heart Opening, Stepping into Emptiness ...

     "To the degree that you relax more into uncertainty and groundlessness, you find your heart opening. Your heart opens to the degree that you can allow difficult situations and step into them. ...
     Meditation is a process of transformation ... as we get older it's very common to become increasingly fixed in our habits. But ... some become more and more flexible and open as they age. Which kind of person do you want to be?
     Often the powerful moment of the spiritual journey is the moment when pain is getting very strong, and we feel we've met our edge and there's no way to pretty it up. ... So at that moment, we can do something different. And by doing something different we can liberate ourselves."

       Pema Chodron, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

Richard Lalonde

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Heart Can & Should be Cultivated

     "The only way an individual can be secure in knowing he or she has heart is to have determination, fortitude, perseverance, persistence, stamina, tenacity, and conviction successfully tested. Once beyond this critical test, that person will have self-confidence based on knowing he or she has internal power.
     It is the authors' hypothesis that heart can be cultivated and fortified. ... Developing heart is a gradual process that involves practicing 'going the extra mile' and rehearsing this skill during small, predictable, controlled experiences. Unfortunately, because long-term benefits of cultivating heart have not been clearly understood, many scoff at this practice. As a result, far too many people do not foster the development of 'heart' in themselves or their children. The consequence of this shortcoming is that when the need for heart presents itself, individuals lack an internal toughness that allows them to respond adequately. Preparing one's fighting spirit is vital in the struggle of life, because negative aftermaths can happen to all of us. It is not what happens to us that matters most, however; it is how we respond and how we overcome adversity that defines us."

       Bell CC, Suggs H. Using sports to strengthen resiliency in children. Training heart. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am 1998; 7(4): 859-65.

Loren Klein

Friday, June 21, 2013

Listening Attitude to Life

     "Listening is an interesting attitude. Just stopping and listening - there's something very profound about that. It takes effort to listen, but it's not willful in the sense of trying to do something, to become something. Listening is a form of empathy. You're allowing the experience of sound to come into you and then understanding it, not intellectually, not as an idea, but as a felt experience. You can apply that same quality of inner listening to your fears and desires, hopes and expectations, and disappointments - to your personality and all the rest of the business of being human."

       Ajahn Viradhammo, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

     More on listening:

Vittorio Fracassi

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shipwrecks, Meaning & Meaning Making

     "meaning (is) a 'mental representation of possible relationships among things, events, and relationships. Thus, meaning connects things'. ... the notion of meaning as central to human life is a popular one. Meaning appears particularly important in confronting highly stressful life experiences, and much recent research has focused on meaning making (i.e., the restoration of meaning in the context of highly stressful situations)."
       Park CL. Making sense of the meaning literature: An integrative review of meaning making and its effects on adjustment to stressful life events. Psychol Bull 2010; 136(2): 257-301.
      “How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.
     I have watched people choose growth over fear as they navigated some of life’s most difficult transitions. I have seen how it is possible to approach the challenges of real life with openness and optimism – even with wisdom and joy.”

    Lesser E. “Broken open. How difficult times can help us grow.” Villard, NY, 2005.

Virgil Cheung

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wisdom Is as Wisdom Does - Walking the Talk

     "Behavior is the outward expression of one's inner understanding ... when wisdom has truly sunk in deeply enough to be transformative, one is incapable of misbehavior."

       Andrew Olendzki, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly, Summer 2013

Jeremy Wilson

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Faith, Life, Big Mind

     "As we go through all this, we begin to have faith in ourselves. Having faith in ourselves doesn’t mean thinking that I can personally handle anything that comes to me: rather, having faith in ourselves involves a process of falling apart and discovering that somehow we come back together again. We learn that having faith in ourselves requires that we have faith in life. Having faith in life doesn’t mean we’ll get what we want or avoid pain: having faith in life involves having faith in something larger than ourselves, though it includes our selves. 
     In Zen, we sometimes call this spacious largeness Big Mind, that mind which is not confined to individual brains but which manifests as the universal, intimate interconnectedness of all things." 

       Rosenbaum R. Zen and the heart of psychotherapy. Brunner/Mazel, Philadelphia, 1998.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

On the Way, Being, Just This

     "The word 'Tao' has many translations. It is an elusive word, meaning much more than can be explained. It has been called the Law or the Way or simply All That Is. Tao then, is the Way, as in direction, manner, source, destination, purpose, and process. In discovering and exploring Tao the process and the destination become one.
     ... in Chinese thought 'the notion of a Supreme Being, so essential to Western religions, is replaced by that of a Supreme State of Being, an impersonal perfection from which all beings, including man, are separated only by delusion.'"

       Towler S. Chung Tzu - The Inner Chapters. The Classic Taoist Text. A New Translation of the Chuang Tzu with Commentary. Watkins Publishing, London, 2010.
      "It is the unmanifest potentiality from which all manifestations proceed."         
Hua-Ching Ni 

Andik Taufiq

Friday, June 14, 2013

Liminality - Insight into Emptiness - Śūnyatā

     The term "'liminal' first appears in publication in the field of psychology in 1884, but the idea was introduced to the field of anthropology in 1909 by Arnold Van Gennep ... (who) described rites of passage such as coming-of-age rituals and marriage as having the following three-part structure:

     liminal period

     The initiate (person undergoing the ritual) is first stripped of the social status that he or she possessed before the ritual, inducted into the liminal period of transition, and finally given his or her new status and reassimilated into society. ...
     ... 'the subject of passage ritual is, in the liminal period, structurally, if not physically, "invisible". That is,
the status of liminal individuals is socially and structurally ambiguous. ... 'Liminality may perhaps be regarded as the Nay to all positive structural assertions, but as in some sense the source of them all, and, more than that, as a realm of pure possibility whence novel configurations of ideas and relations may arise.'"



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clouds, Thoughts & Emotions ... all Insubstantial

  " 'Clouds that wander through the sky
     Have no roots, no home.'

Thoughts & emotions are exactly the same -
they have no roots, no home.
And yet we're continually rooting them,
taking them to be self, taking them to be I.
So we practice, with both thoughts & emotions
on this more ultimate level, of seeing their empty,
conditioned nature - just arising out of conditions 
& passing away when conditions change.

     'So indeed, these states not having been,
     come into being; having been, they vanish.
     Regarding these states, abide unattached, unrepelled,
     independent, non-attached, free, not identified, 
     with a mind free of barriers.' "

          2013-06-04 Joseph Goldstein - Working With Thought And Emotion

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Answer!

      What is this? Who is this? 
      "the answer to our quest is not something outside ourselves, but a matter of realizing who we are, of understanding our own true being."

       Rosenbaum R. Zen and the heart of psychotherapy. Brunner/Mazel, Philadelphia, 1998.

Paul Banney

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buddhism & Science

     "Typically third culture Scientists address and posit answers to questions that were previously deemed to be the sole domain of theologians and philosophers. As Natural Science approaches are asserted as being the sole benchmark of validity, attempts are made to either process and reduce spiritual experience through an instrumentalist incarnation of science (as has previously been demonstrated) or to attempt to relate scientific worldviews, insights and discoveries to ancient spiritual teachings and religious scriptures. One popular attempt at the latter was Fritjof Capra’s (2000) bestselling ‘The Tao of Physics’ which had the subtitle of ‘an exploration of the parallels between modern physics and Eastern mysticism’. One critical issue with this kind of approach is that it appears to only validate religious worldviews in proportion to these perceived ‘parallels’; so that religion is deemed relevant and ‘rational’ only to the extent that it can be made (or be made to appear) to conform to currently popular scientific worldviews and methods. In this way religion may be seen as a mere primitive precursor to scientific discovery; surviving only by emulating and associating with the dominant positivist paradigms; Buddhist meditation is not valued or validated on the basis of 2500 years of carefully recorded experiential evidence but rather on the comparatively recent experimental findings that brain activity is being measurably affected."

       Cohen E. From the Bodhi tree, to the analyst’s couch, then into the MRI scanner: the psychologisation of Buddhism. Annual Review of Critical Psychology 2010; 8: 97–119.

love life

Monday, June 10, 2013

How Reality is "Understood"

     "Many times I have heard a Westerner ask a Tibetan Rinpoche, 'are the deities real or are they archetypes?' Every time the master has answered that the yidams, the protectors and the deities are as real as we are. Just as we exist so too do they exist. (Lama Palden Drolma 2002, pp2-3)
     And as Westerners begin to explore Buddhist teachings concerning emptiness (Shunyata) ... these ontological questions concerning ‘what’ or ‘who’ exists, become ever more complex and ambiguous, opening up to any number of interpretations.
     In John Snelling’s bestselling introduction to Buddhist teachings *** ... one encounters a classic example of the psychologisation of the various heavens and hells of Buddhist cosmology as encountered in the depictions of the wheel of life (the six realms of existence). There is little doubt that almost all ancient and most modern (Sri Lankan, Burmese, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Tibetan) Buddhists accepted, and would continue to accept and believe in the actual existence of hell realms, populated by those who didn’t appreciate the Karmic consequences of their actions and intentions in former lives. Yet Snelling, like many Westerners, finds the ‘reality’ of hell realms difficult to accept, according to either faith or reason, and so begins a hermeneutic process of metaphorisation, individualisation and psychologisation ..." 

       *** Snelling J. The Buddhist Handbook: A Complete Guide to Buddhist Teaching and Practice. Rider Books, London, 1993.

       Cohen E. From the Bodhi tree, to the analyst’s couch, then into the MRI scanner: the psychologisation of Buddhism. Annual Review of Critical Psychology
2010; 8: 97–119.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

NO, it's NOT "all about sex" NOR "money" NOR "power" NOR "politics" etc

     Most of us have HORRIBLE communications skills! Most of us are SCARED SHITLESS about connecting meaningfully with another human being! One has to be BRAVE to be honest. One has to be MATURE to communicate in an honest, mature manner. Most of us are IMMATURE!
     We all do try our best to CONNECT with each other, with our "BEST shot" - we might (mistakenly) guess that we're being romantic, sexy, wealthy, powerful, intellectual, politically savvy, jocks, in with the in crowd, masters of trivia (VERY popular), etc, etc, etc ...
     But you know what? We're just anxious & trying our awkward best to connect meaningfully - one equal to another equal - nothing more, nothing less!
     It's the old "tower of Babel" shtick isn't it? EVERYONE speaking a different damned language - at the level of the EGO - we are each unique individuals.
     YET, each one of us is already connected PROFOUNDLY at the deepest level - THAT needs to be understood.


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Zen - Non-Dualism, Non-Attachment, Not-Self

Avoid seeking IT somewhere else, in someone else — 
Or you will be far apart from your true Self
Solitary and unique am I; I now go on alone
But I meet IT everywhere in everytime.
                           Tozan Ryokai 
       Rosenbaum R. Empty mindfulness in humanistic psychotherapy. The Humanistic Psychologist 2009; 37(2): 207-221.


Friday, June 7, 2013

Faith involves not Clinging but Letting Go

     Maturation, growth in wisdom or awakening involves repeatedly letting go of, transcending limiting worldviews, self-concepts, etc, for progressively more accurate, more expansive, more inclusive understandings of the nature of reality.

      "having faith is not a question of clinging to a particular set of beliefs, a particular set of Buddhist practices or psychotherapeutic techniques. Having faith involves the opposite: it requires we let go of what we are clinging to."

        Rosenbaum R. "Zen and the Heart of Psychotherapy." Brunner/Mazel, 1998. 

Anne Bastedo

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Buddhist & Western Psychology - Opening Minds

     "In the early years of the twentieth century, Anagarika Dharmapala – a Sinhalese Buddhist monk, on a tour of the United States – is said to have attended a lecture by William James at Harvard University. During the lecture, James apparently became aware of the monk, dressed in a distinctive yellow toga, sitting in the audience. 'Take my chair,' James said, 'and I shall sit with my students. You are better equipped to lecture on psychology than I am.' Dharmapala obliged and gave a short account of Buddhist teachings, after which James turned to his students and remarked, 'This is the psychology everybody will be studying twenty-five years from now' (adapted from Sangharakshita, 1952, p. 78). One hundred years on, it appears James’ prediction never came true. It has taken much longer for academics in the mainstream of Western Psychology to begin to share James’ open-mindedness towards Buddhist ideas, let alone to treat them as a valid ‘Psychology’."
       Stanley S. Intimate distances: William James' introspection, Buddhist mindfulness, and experiential inquiry. New Ideas in Psychology 2012; 30(2): 201-211.
     "William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) American philosopher and psychologist who had trained as a physician. He was the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. ... He challenged his professional colleagues not to let a narrow mindset prevent an honest appraisal of those beliefs."

Johnny Rockets restaurant, Seattle WA - May 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Anatta & Joy

     For one who has removed the conceit 'I am' - this is indeed the highest happiness.     Buddha

     When feeling sad, remember to ask: "WHO is suffering?"

     See also: 

Gassho to Mary

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Letting Go of Dukkha

     "Let go of anger. Let go of pride. When you are bound by nothing you go beyond sorrow."                    Buddha

     “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It
has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It's seeing through the facade of pretense. It's the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”         

Dale Chihuly's glass art & Space Needle, Seattle WA

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anicca, Anatta, Dukkha

Transient joys
Transient neutral times
Transient sorrows
Ever-changing energies flowing through porousness
Flowing through
Flowing through

EMP building & Space Needle, Seattle, WA

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Letting Go of Desire, Only Joy Remains

     Live joyfully, without desire.                Buddha

     It's incredible how much these few words encapsulate.

Dale Chihuly

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mindfulness & Research?

     The "point of view that some things should not be subjected to dissection, analysis, and the empirical methods of science has a long history. Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), the great 19th-century Plato scholar, theologian, and master of Balliol College at Oxford, felt this way. He grumbled, 'Research! Research! A mere excuse for idleness; it has never achieved, and will never achieve any results of the slightest value.'”

       Dossey L. Healing research: what we know and don't know. Explore (NY) 2008; Nov-Dec;4(6):341-52. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2008.09.009.

     Also, how does one who meditates best invest his/her limited time and energy?

Richard Kirsten Daiensai