Thursday, October 31, 2013

Open Question - Koan

     To "rediscover the unity concealed in contradictions" ....

       Durckheim KG. “Hara – The vital center of man.” Inner Traditions, Rochester VT, 1975 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

"Only Have No Preferences"

perceptions of the other
come with a charge
attraction or repulsion
clinging or aversion
need or rejection

but is there 'other'?
are not 'things as they is'?
one deep still pool of mystery?

Monday, October 28, 2013


     noticing & accepting "things as they is"
     the myriad of ways deep silence pours forth into symphony & cacophony
     I look deeply within
     silence, stillness, emptiness
     connecting directly with essential being
     that my behavior might be more & more in tune


Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Drives Behavior?

     Are we not "driven" or "feel compelled" to do things at times? How do we feel physically / emotionally in these instances? Do we feel an ache in the heart, a hunger in the belly, a generalized restlessness, feeling lost & needing to return home, emptiness desiring fulfillment, incompleteness desiring completion or wholeness, dividedness desiring a sense of undividedness?
     As we become increasingly aware of our body as a physical reality, we're surprised at how frequently the above unpleasant physically-felt sensations actually drive our behavior.
     Can we recognize these physical sensations, accept them, let them go, bring awareness back to the present moment, and deal appropriately with what's in front of us? Appropriately means letting go of the compulsive component! Appropriately means letting go of "me, myself & I" - the clamorings of the ego.  Appropriately means approaching the present moment from equanimity, stillness, silence, wisdom. When coming from this place, we don't feel "driven" or "compelled" at all - when we act, it's a natural response to just what each situation requires - no big deal. THIS is HOME.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Meditation & Mind Wandering

     "Human attention selectively focuses on aspects of experience that are threatening, pleasant, or novel. The physical threats of the ancient times have largely been replaced by chronic psychological worries and hurts. The mind gets drawn to these worries and hurts, mostly in the domain of the past and future, leading to mind wandering. In the brain, a network of neurons called the default mode network has been associated with mind wandering. Abnormal activity in the default mode network may predispose to depression, anxiety, attention deficit, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Several studies show that meditation can reverse some of these abnormalities, producing salutary functional and structural changes in the brain."

       Sood A, Jones DT. On mind wandering, attention, brain networks, and meditation. Explore 2013; 9(3):136-141. 
Sandeep Patil

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Searching for Sugar Man

     Searching for Sugar Man is the title of a very fine, Academy Award-winning documentary movie about the almost unknown in North America, yet legendary in South Africa & Australia, Mexican American singer song-writer poet activist of the 1970's Rodriguez.
     Sixto “Sugar Man” Rodriguez is a special human being - important to get to know - first I recommend seeing the movie, which is available on Netflix and likely your local video store.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Self Concepts - Sense of Momentum or Movement, Magnetic Push or Pull

     Why do we cling so tenaciously to dysfunctional habits? And why do we instinctively avoid behaving in a mature, evolved, ethical manner ie wisely?
     We're conditioned to automatically obey a felt pull towards or push away from people, things or activities. We are used to allowing ourselves to be swept up by the momentum of this pull or push. See:
     We (mistakenly) assume that this is natural, that "we're being ourselves." Consider for a moment that in order to feel a magnetic force or momentum, there must first be a stable physical entity - a solid, enduring, physical "self." This (fictional) "solid self" is what we're actually attempting to cling to. Egocentricity (self-centeredness) is literally a primitive, self-preserving instinct. The instinct is natural & automatic, we (still) have it, but it's literally designed & suited for animal life.
     Human beings, especially in our current complex highly integrated & interdependent society, must NOW intentionally accelerate the evolution of their consciousness from egocentric to allocentric & ecocentric. Civilized life is not at all about "me, myself & I," but about living in community. We must learn to become hypo-egoic before we completely destroy each other and our planet.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Facts to Contemplate, Often - Accepting Reality

     "These are five facts that (the Buddha) said 'ought to be often contemplated upon by everyone - whether man or woman, householder or monk':

     • I cannot avoid aging.
     • I cannot avoid illness.
     • I cannot avoid death.
     • I cannot avoid being separated and parted from all that is dear and beloved to me.

     • The only thing I control is my actions.

     Illness is a natural consequence of being in a body. And yet, in the chronic-illness community (which numbers over 130 million people in the United States alone), it's a commonly held conviction that illness is the fault of the person who is sick. Indeed, the belief that illness is unnatural - literally, going against nature - is shared by many in the population as a whole."          Toni Bernhard

     Shambhala Sun, November 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?

     There's something in us that craves finally arriving at a destination and putting our feet up to rest. Even young kids incessantly ask "Are We There Yet? Are We There Yet?" on road trips. We're that way with concepts as well. We love to try to squeeze even huge complex concepts into tight concise little definitions so we can rest - ie stop trying to understand them. Of course this is just laziness. While it's fine to review how much (little) we know about something, it's usually a mistake to assume that it's all there is to know about it. We keep changing, things keep changing, and how we know things keeps changing. No, we're not there yet! See:

     A religion prof, on hearing each student's answer to one of her many questions in her class on Buddhism, would invariably comment on their answer with "it's something like that." My former karate teacher, on seeing a student perform a sequence of karate moves (kata), would invariably - regardless of the quality of performance - comment "good." We're all students, all in the process of growing, and should not be mislead to believe that we've arrived. An open, curious, 'beginner's mind' really helps us to remain on the path.

            “I meet all sorts of people who’ve had all sorts of experiences (during meditation) and they’re still confused and not doing very well in their life. Experiences are not enough. My students learn that if they have so-called experiences, I really don’t care much about hearing about them. I just tell them, "Yeah, that’s O.K. Don’t hold onto it. And how are you getting along with your mother?” Otherwise, they get stuck there. It’s not the important thing in practice.” Asked what is the important thing in practice, (Charlotte Joko Beck) replied, “Learning how to deal with one’s personal, egotistic self. That’s the work. Very, very difficult.”

"Love is in the Air" by Bansky

Thursday, October 17, 2013


     “Stillness is the condition of unselfcentered attention. It is inherently compassionate and agile. Whatever is still is also silent, because it communicates directly and not through the medium of any language. 
     This silence is more vast and more empathic than all the scriptures put together.”

                                                                                                                         Fr Laurence Freeman

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Self-talk & Mindfulness

     The loudness / intrusiveness of self-talk varies according to how much is, was, and (we anticipate) will be on our plates, as well as how open our awareness is to it. It's said that there's always some self-talk going on, though it may be very soft.

     Mindfulness is not about avoiding, suppressing or shutting off self-talk, or any other aspect of reality. Mindfulness is about being accurately aware of things as they are, accepting them as they are, and responding to them appropriately - wisely, to decrease suffering and increase joy - for ourselves & others.

Didier Quan

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Choose Now: Fresh or Stale?

     Each and every moment we choose how we perceive this moment - fresh or stale?

     This very moment is completely new, never-before experienced, unique. We ourselves are, in each moment, completely new, never-before experienced, unique. Each millisecond of life is a brand new dawn of creation. Accurately perceived, we live in the miraculous flow of endless creative change.
     To see accurately, we first must let go of our "me, myself & I": self-talk ("narrative focus") and all our many forms of self-absorption (egocentricity). We either see things as they truly are, or see ourselves projected onto the external world.

     “We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”      Anais Nin

     Sadly, most of us don't even realize that we have a choice in this matter. The momentum of our lives, our story lines, our baggage, is so great, that we spend much of our lives completely lost in it. And when we get a brief glimpse of freedom from this psychic swamp, it scares us, and we feel completely unequipped to deal with this (to us) strange landscape of bright consciousness. Sadly, many of us quickly retreat back to the swamp we know (and hate). BUT INSTEAD, WE CAN CHOOSE TO BE FREE ...


Photo Sonia

Monday, October 14, 2013

Porosity - a poem

Filled to the brim
With innumerable beginnings and endings
Crows speak in the distance

October 13, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Savour this Land

     No words can describe the experience of walking in Canadian woods during our Thanksgiving weekend - usually around the peak of the changing colors of our trees.

     This land is sacred, embracing and to be embraced. We are blessed. We are grateful.

Rural Nova Scotia, Canada, October 13, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

What Really Matters in a Community?

     What we do "is a very significant and integral part of many people’s lives. Bringing individuals together into community, exposing them to material that can challenge them, that can transform them, that can inspire them, and then watching and supporting them through those moments of transformation. That’s a very significant and important piece for individuals and for community. And that’s one of the concerns I have ... we’re losing places where that can happen in a very healthy, fulfilling way.

     I think what’s most important is the creation of communities in which we can be vulnerable to one another. A shared experience and vulnerability are key elements. Watching people become vulnerable with one another, or them watching me become vulnerable with them – those are moments when we’re touched and we think oh! And we have to see something differently, because you sense that someone else has some skin in that issue, or it’s a big thing for them, and we’ve never thought of that before. But when you’re sitting next to someone for whom something is a big thing, then you have to consider it and we open ourselves more fully I think.”

       Gretta Vosper, interviewed by Mary Hines on CBC Radio's "Tapestry" on Oct 4, 2013

     Meaningful Communities of Health-care Professionals:  

     See also: 

Dale Chihuly

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

From Egocentric, to Hypo-egoic, to Anatta, to Freedom

     Imagine being on a journey where you must carry a delicate porcelain figurine. The journey is challenging with many falls, so that the figurine will, with absolute certainty, be chipped, and ultimately shattered by the end.

     Carrier, or figurine? Verb, or noun?

     WHO is suffering?

     Is suffering NECESSARY?


Tatiana Plotnikova

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Our Role in Creating "Enemies"

     "But if we are ever to get rid of our enemies, or at least render them powerless over us, we will have to own up to our part in creating the enmity.
     Every person has the potential to be unpleasant and harmful, just as every person has the potential to be pleasant and helpful. Think of someone you love dearly; if you look back, you can probably find a time when they did something that harmed you, even unwittingly, or a time when you were angry with them or they were angry with you.
     'Enemy,' then, is not a fixed definition, a label permanently affixed to anyone we believe has harmed us. It's a temporary identity we assign people when they don't want what we want or they do something we don't want. But whatever others have or have not done, enemy-making always comes back to us."

       Salzberg S, Thurman R. "Love your enemies: Hot to break the anger habit and be a whole lot happier." Hay House, 2013. 

Katie Orlinsky

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Approaching Reality with Courage, Curiosity, Skillful Guidance & Perseverance

     "It is not easy to face the dissatisfactory conditions of one's own life. In fact, people often do whatever they can to avoid these unpleasant facts. They sometimes turn to worldly diversions, immerse themselves in studies or work, or even lose themselves in mind-dulling drugs or alcohol. But the teaching of the Buddha is that if one truly and courageously faces reality and sees the truth about his or her life, indeed about life itself, with time and guidance, one can find the cause of the discontent, heal it, and realize a new and truly satisfactory life."

       Mitchell DW. Buddhism - Introducing the Buddhist Experience. ed2, Oxford University Press, 2008. 

See also:

Dingle tower, Halifax, NS, Oct 5, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Concept of Time - only Smile & Wonder

     As a kid, (in the late 1950's) I experienced "endless summers" - as if summer would never end - I was suspended in timelessness. Suddenly, in my 60's, time flashes by silently.
     Starting sitting meditation, at times we agonizingly wait for the bell to end the sitting, sometimes with sweat & tears pouring from us. Later, at times, an hour feels like less than a minute, and a few days of meditation are the gentlest blink of an eye. 
     Linear time? - a subjective fantasy - not to be reified - only smile & wonder

     How would I do THIS - were this one act to last forever - stretching into infinity? What attitude, what posture, what love, how much would I devote to THIS one split second in TIME - if this millisecond lasted for ALL ETERNITY?

     "good poets remind us that heaven abides in that which surrounds us." Christopher Martin

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Spiritual, but not Religious

     "... some thirty million Americans - maintain some type of spiritual belief and practice, even though they no longer feel at home in a church, synagogue, or mosque.
     These are the famous 'spiritual but not religious,' philosophically the fastest-growing demographic in the US. Generally, they're educated, liberal, and open-minded, with a deep sense of connection to the Earth and a belief that there's more to life than what appears on the surface.
     ... contemplatives of different faiths often have more in common with each other than they do with practitioners of their own religion. It comes down to how much we personify or solidify the absolute - whether it's a supreme being who passes judgment on us or an open expanse of love and awareness. In their experience of God, Thomas Merton, Rumi, and Martin Buber had more in common with the Buddha (and each other) than with most practitioners of their own faith.
     The difference is that meditation is the very essence of Buddhism, not just the practice of a rarified elite of mystics. It's fair to say that Buddhism is the most contemplative of the world's major religions, which is a reflection of its basic nontheism.
     Buddhism is about realization and experience, not institutions or divine authority. This makes it especially suited to those who consider themselves spiritual but not religious."               Melvin McCleod, Shambhala Sun, November 2013

See "Psychospiritual Technologies":