Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dealing with Fear Skillfully

Jian Ghomeshi, in wrapping up the interview, asks 60 year-old actor Mandy Patinkin: "Where do you feel like you are on your journey?"

Mandy Patinkin: "I thrillingly haven't a clue. I haven't a clue what's going to happen a second from now, a day, a week, a month, a year. And I guess, that, I finally learned, is one of life's great gifts - that I haven't a clue what's going to happen next, and I can't wait to find out."

Jian Ghomeshi: "And you're not scared of that?"

Mandy Patinkin: "I'm not scared at all. I've been scared. Fear ran my life. And the greatest lesson I've learned in these 5 or 6 years, is to stop thinking that I could run away from fear of any nature. And I've been learning and practicing to invite any and every kind of fear to sit right on my shoulder, give it a front seat in the studio, in the concert, at home, in bed, with family, friends, children ... - put all my fears in the front row seat, let it make me shake and sweat and be terrorized. I will eventually get bored with it and proceed. 
And when have you seen a person of any age, whether 5, 50, 60 or a hundred, who's been frightened that you hate? You know if they're sweating and shaking, your heart will go out a little bit. And if they hate me and get bored and want to walk away - let them walk away.
I can't run away from it. And so I'm learning and practicing to let it be there. And it will be part of my process, work, journey for the rest of my life. But it consumed me so up until this point and I'm no longer trying to escape it. I welcome it into my life every second. I encourage it."

Above from the last couple of minutes of Jian Ghomeshi's CBC interview:

See also:

Base Jumpers by Dimitrios Kontizas

Friday, August 30, 2013

Buddhanature - like the Sun, Lotus, and Gold

     "Sun, lotus, and gold - three traditional Buddhist symbols for buddhanature, our unchanging wakefulness.
     Like the sun, our buddhanature always shines, even if the clouds temporarily obscure our view of it.
     Like the lotus, it grows pure and unsullied from the mud of our passion, aggression, and ignorance.
     And like gold, we need only purify the dross of our obscurations to experience the beauty and brilliance of our true nature."

       John Tarrant, Shambhala Sun, September 2013

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Our Goals Change for the Better

     "When we meditate for a purpose - to be calm, to gain insight - we are striving, not meditating.

     The problem with having a known goal is that it is a purchase from the store of things we already know, when what we truly want is something glimpsed dimly and imagined in a haze.

     It's painful to let go of our original intentions but, eventually, they are in the way because we have changed, we are no longer the person who set off. Our intentions gave us the journey and that is enough.

     Attention is a kind of love and our way of showing up, and when we do that, life unfolds by itself." 

       John Tarrant, Shambhala Sun, September 2013

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ongoing Work of Mindfulness

     "much of what is called spiritual development consists of first becoming aware of what states are arising and passing away in experience (no small challenge in itself), and then of learning how to regard them with mindfulness rather than remaining identified with them or carried away by them (an even more daunting, but not impossible, task)."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

     Watch Olendzki's interview:

This morning in North End Halifax

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Preferences, Opinions, & Curiosity

     One Zen master advised his students "Only have no preferences." What does that mean? Can it be that we focus our attention on what we want or don't want, excluding most or all other components of reality?
     Does the recommendation to be curious about what's going on mean the very same thing - to not have preferences, but to be aware of all components of reality
     We have so many disappointments in the run of a day - actually, even hourly. If we focused on the disappointment, we'd summarize all our experience as - well - disappointing. No wonder some folks are sour most of the time.
     However, if we simply DON'T summarize, but remain curious, then our entire experience can't reduce to disappointment, BUT will instead reflect REALITY ie a complex fluctuating mixture of wonderful, mediocre, & lousy fleeting events. If we observe life dispassionately, objectively, with curiosity - all our experiences will be REAL.
     Life is complex, why reduce it to inaccurate, roller coaster terms of fabulous, boring, or horrible - it cannot be reduced to any one of these, because it's a complex mix of ALL of these, ALL the time.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Wasting Time during Sitting Meditation

     "Vipassana meditation has to do with looking deeply into the mind and body to discern the various processes unfolding each moment that fabricate the virtual world of our experience. The riot of conceptual proliferation is often the first thing seen because it is the shallowest and busiest part of the mind. For most of us the monkey mind chatters incessantly as it swings from one branch to another, seizing first this thought, then that idea, then a host of miscellaneous associations, memories, and fantasies. The basic themes around which all this activity swirls, according to the insights of the Buddha, are craving, conceit, and views. We could watch this show all day and learn very little."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

     Watch Olendzki's interview:

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We Sculpt Our "Self" Moment By Moment

     "In a moment of anger, whether acted out, verbalized, or merely seething unexpressed within, one trains oneself to become angrier by laying down a thin layer of angry disposition. A person so disposed to anger will more and more easily erupt in anger anew at any provocation.
     But in a moment of kindness a kindly disposition is deposited, and one becomes incrementally more disposed to kindness. 
     The attitude with which we respond to an object of experience, with anger or with kindness, will therefore not only influence the causal field outside ourselves but also progressively reshape our very character."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

     Watch Olendzki's interview:

Kensington Market, Toronto

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Exploring the Mysteries of the Human Condition

      "Perhaps the most unique and important principle of the Buddha’s approach to the mind is the insight that the mysteries of the human condition are best explored in the dynamics of subjective experience as it unfolds in the present moment
     Buddhist theoretical psychology is a science of experience, in which the stream of consciousness itself, as it is presented to the attentive and carefully trained observer, is the field of investigation. ... adepts would go off into the forest alone, cross their legs, shut their eyes, and look very closely at what was going on. They would observe the various effects of fasting, breathing exercises, and other yogic disciplines on their experience, and they organized their observations and insights in formal teachings and systems of great subtlety and complexity. 
     It was a remarkably scientific endeavor in many ways, in which the human body and mind served as the laboratory for investigation. As such, the entire tradition is more of a descriptive phenomenology than a theory of mind. 
     The Buddha was not saying, 'This is what I theorize human experience to be.' Rather, his message (paraphrased) was, 'This is what I’ve seen in my personal experience.' And further, 'Don’t take my word for it; examine it for yourself, and you too can see exactly what I’m talking about.' 
     Much of what he points to does not require years in the wilderness to access, but is available to all of us in this very moment."

        Andrew Olendzki: "Buddhist Psychology", Chapter 1, in:
        Seth Robert Segall ed. "Encountering Buddhism: Western Psychology and Buddhist Teachings", SUNY Press, 2003.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Buddhist Psychology

     "There was a whole movement surrounding the Buddha, often referred to as the Sramana movement, characterized by the investigation of the human condition using various experiential methods. Many of these methods were certainly psychological, and we might even call some of them scientific. Rebelling against an orthodox intelligentsia that relied on revealed scriptural authority to guide a ritual communication with external deities, the Sramanas, or Wanderers, were more apt to use yoga, asceticism, and meditation to access an internal landscape and gain personal insights into the nature of their own minds and bodies. Their methods of inquiry constituted a body of shared praxis, and the experiences accessed and insights gained were largely repeatable and verifiable. Thus the tradition went beyond the contributions of a few individuals, and built up profundity and authority over many generations. The Buddha was both an heir to this psychologically investigative tradition and one of its greatest contributors."

        Andrew Olendzki: "Buddhist Psychology", Chapter 1, from:
        Seth Robert Segall ed. "Encountering Buddhism: Western Psychology and Buddhist Teachings", SUNY Press, 2003. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Present Moment Awareness Displaces Neurotic Mental Chatter

     "By filling up the senses, one empties out the mind. With the peace that ensues from quieting the mind in this way, Dharma investigation can begin."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

     Watch Olendzki's interview:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Freedom = Wisdom

     "Freedom means being able to choose how we respond to things. When wisdom is not well developed, it can be easily circumvented by the provocations of others. In such cases we might as well be animals or robots. If there is no space between an insulting stimulus and its immediate conditioned response - anger - then we are in fact under the control of others. Mindfulness opens up such a space, and when wisdom is there to fill it, one is capable of responding with forbearance. It's not that anger is repressed, anger never arises in the first place."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who is suffering?

     "The level of cognitive macro-construction - where ideas of self and other, success and failure, worth and worthlessness all occur - is a minefield of triggers and snares. Below this threshold - where thoughts and feelings and emotions flow in and out of the mind without definition and without a chance to become established - a person can find some freedom to not be the one who suffers."

       Olendzki A. "Unlimiting Mind. The Radically Experiential Psychology of Buddhism." Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010.

     Watch Olendzki's interview: