Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Meditation is Powerful

     “As you go deeper into your practice, there will be times of great inner tension followed by release to the point of weeping. If you have not experienced this at least several times, you have not yet really practiced.”
        Kornfield J, Breiter P. A still forest pool. The insight meditation of Achaan Chah. Quest Books, Wheaton IL, 1985.

     Meditation practice does bring about de-repression of psychological material, where repressed, often emotionally-charged material, comes to the surface. This tends to happen gradually, so the meditator accommodates to his/her gradually increasing awareness & acceptance. However, it can occur suddenly, which can be traumatic.
       Willoughby Britton PhD studies the Adverse Effects in Meditation:


     Our task is to discover a freedom that's independent of all circumstances & times.
       Kornfield J, Breiter P. A still forest pool. The insight meditation of Achaan Chah. Quest Books, Wheaton IL, 1985.


Curtis Steele   www.cheerfuleye.com

Monday, February 24, 2014

Joy is Available Right Now - Forget Happiness

     "Life is tough, but when you see & accept what is actually happening, even if it is very difficult or painful, mind and body relax. There is an exquisite quality that comes from just experiencing what arises, completely, with no separation between awareness & experience."

       Ken McLeod. "Forget Happiness. Commentary on two verses from Tokme Zongpo's Thirty-seven Practices of a Bodhisattva." Tricycle, Spring 2014 

     See "Post-traumatic growth": http://www.johnlovas.com/2012/01/post-traumatic-growth.html

Nick_Brisbane   www.dpreview.com

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Direct Intimacy with Daily Life

     "Suddenly I was experiencing the vitality and immediacy of life itself - in the flowers, the people, the clamor of traffic - without the walls of resistance that human beings are heir to.
     What is this resistance? Why do we again and again resist our feelings of joy or happiness or love? We don't do it intentionally, but our conditioning, our habits of mind, and our culture all seem to work to build up the walls between what we naturally feel and what we allow ourselves to feel. Ironically, it is often the times when we are forced to feel intensely - times of grief, or physical pain - that catapult us into feeling joy. That is why we often hear people say they are grateful for the losses or difficulties they have encountered. They are grateful because the shock forced them into an intimacy with life that had been hidden from them. Intimacy seems hidden, but it is actually available to us all the time: in the world we inhabit with people, in the natural world, in our work, and in all our relationships. Once we are willing to be directly intimate with our life as it arises, joy emerges our of the simplest of life experiences."

       Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara "Simple Joy. Becoming Intimate with all of Life's Circumstances." Tricycle, Spring 2014 

William McIntosh   http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsacprof/

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Clouds Passing Through An Empty Sky

     "If you become involved with these visions,
      you may wander for a long time confused....
      Let them pass through your consciousness
      like clouds passing through an empty sky."

                                                                                                   Tibetan Book of the Dead

       Collins S. To the Light. A Journey through Buddhist Asia. WW Norton & Co, NY, 2003.

evancj   www.dpreview.com

Friday, February 21, 2014

Visions Experienced During Meditation

     "The visions you experience exist within your consciousness,
      the forms they take are determined by your past attachments,
      your past desires, your past fears, your past karma.
      These visions have no reality outside your consciousness ...
      Let them pass."

                                                                                                   Tibetan Book of the Dead

       Collins S. To the Light. A Journey through Buddhist Asia. WW Norton & Co, NY, 2003.

Anderl   www.dpreview.com

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Pure Clear White Light

     "Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which
      everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the
      universe returns, the original nature of your own mind.
      The natural state of the universe unmanifest."
                                                                      Tibetan Book of the Dead

       Collins S. To the Light. A Journey through Buddhist Asia. WW Norton & Co, NY, 2003.

     See: http://www.johnlovas.com/2012/08/reality-hot-knife-against-your-cheek.html

PicOne   www.dpreview.com

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Attitude, Virtue, our Way of Being

     "The perfume of flowers goes not against the wind,
      not even the perfume of sandalwood, of rose-bay, or of jasmine,
      but the perfume of virtue travels against the wind
      and reaches unto the ends of the world."
                                                                         Dhammapada 4.54

       Collins S. To the Light. A Journey through Buddhist Asia. WW Norton & Co, NY, 2003.

beetle1   www.dpreview.com

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What Works, What's Practical Right Now?

     Isn't it mind-boggling, when we look objectively, at the incredibly foolish things that supposedly mature, educated, intelligent people - including ourselves - have done?
     From the third-person observer's perspective, or our own 20-20 hindsight, the act is incomprehensible. Yet obviously, to the perpetrator, at the time, it was the best or even the only conceivable option!  
     This is why it's so easy to be harshly judgmental towards others as well as ourselves. With a clear, balanced perspective, a situation will appear radically different than through the ego's frosted lenses. And when our ego is threatened, we feel precisely as if our very life is in mortal danger - rational perspective can instantly vanish - welcome to the land of "temporary insanity" - "crimes of passion" - "that wasn't me" - "I don't know what got into me" - "the devil made me do it".

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

     So here's a very practical question: when we're in deep trouble, whose advice should we listen to, an objective third party's - OR - someone who supports our current perspective?

Dalhousie University campus - February 13, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Everything Changes - Have No Preferences - Nothing is Hidden

     "When we are training at the (Zen) monastery, we put on straw hats and go from house to house reciting prayers and collecting food, which is the only food we are permitted to eat. Some people are glad to see us, but some get very angry. When I was training, one of the places I had to beg from was a clothing shop that made kimonos. When I went there the proprietress threw water on me and became very angry. I had only begun my training a short time earlier, and I didn't understand the meaning of going to a place where I was not welcome. So I talked with a senior monk, and he agreed to go instead of me.
     I was watching from across the street to see what would happen. But he just did what he always did. This happened several times, and every time the woman would lose her temper and tell us to get lost. Finally my fellow monk said to her, 'Negative relationships, too, are relationships.' She became quiet, and then began to sob. After that she would send handsewn robes to this monk. I think that watching us come every day and go from house to house with our heads bowed had irritated her for some reason. But when the monk did not respond to her with hatred, something inside her changed suddenly so that she wanted to support us. I'm very interested in this possibility: that the things you have been suffering with up until a certain moment can change in an instant to a new way of thinking. In the course of my counseling, I see people become full of energy who just a few hours ago seemed on the verge of death. Seeing that, I feel that the process is very similar to the (Zen) training that I went through as a monk."          Ittetsu Nemoto

       Winifred Bird. "The Counselor. Japanese Priest Ittetsu Nemoto has made Suicide Prevention his Life's Work." Tricycle, Spring 2014.

Kah-Wai Lin   www.kahwailin.com

Friday, February 14, 2014

Locked in vs Free Outside "the Box"

     Most of us are aware of having certain self-concepts & worldviews, but by and large, nearly all of our attention is focused externally. What we see & think is, we (mistakenly) assume to be the objective truth. Most of us simply don't know that we don't know what's going on. And since we're certain that our take on things is accurate, we're equally sure that different perspectives are not only wrong, but that we should take action to fix the problem. Homer Simpson sums it up nicely "I don't like them - they're different." Welcome to fear-based egocentricity & all that it entails: rigidity, dogmatism, adversarial relationships, extremism, fundamentalism, totalitarianism, war, genocide, ... See: http://www.johnlovas.com/search?q=being+right and: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2014/02/492-mindfulness-practice-real-world.html      
     Self-reflection - "a life examined" - is critically important to start evolving out of this primitive, tight, blind, egocentric box. As we evolve our consciousness, there is a natural shift from egocentric through hypo-egoic towards self-transcendence and allocentricity. See: http://www.johnlovas.com/2013/12/capacity-to-deal-realistically-with.html and http://www.johnlovas.com/2013/10/self-concepts-sense-of-momentum-or.html

     "In Indian mythology, Indra was a God who attached all phenomena with visible and invisible strands weaving together a universal net. Earth, trees, clouds, mountains, sky, passion, aggression, creativity, women, men, and children, all were connected in Indra's expansive net. At the intersections of these strands, Indra tied dulcimer bells. In that way, as one part of the net was pulled or moved, the bells would ring; when the sound of a bell was heard, awareness of interconnectedness arose becoming another strand of consideration in one's weave. When the bells were ignored, an illusion of separation and independence reigned; the outcome could be destructive, reverberating throughout the net.”
       W. Anne Bruce: "Abiding in Liminal Space(s): Inscribing Mindful Living/Dying With(In) End-of-Life Caring." PhD Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2002, p12 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Opening, Opening, Forever Opening ...

     We have infinite ways of consciously & subconsciously creating, promoting, protecting & preserving "our" ego: 
     rigidity: http://www.johnlovas.com/2013/12/well-beyond-walls-friction.html
     objectification: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2013/09/402-objectification.html 

     We ultimately have to learn by directly experiencing the unsatisfactory nature of ego-clinging, dropping it, and opening up to reality.
     Meditation practice, especially when boosted by long silent retreats & good teachers, intensifies this vital process.

GBMorts   www.dpreview.com

Getting Closer to the Source

     "All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws."          John Coltrane

       Enjoy CBC Radio's program Tapestry: "A Love Supreme: God in the Music of John Coltrane" http://www.cbc.ca/tapestry/episode/

Sunday morning in Halifax, February 9, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Resting in Silence & Stillness

     Meditation provides a reprieve from two basic human anxieties: "I am not enough" & "I don't have enough".

       Mokshananda: Exploring the Nature of Reality


William McIntosh   http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsacprof/

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Self, Self-transcendence & Nonduality

     The image of each of us having two sides - front, being the way others & how we usually conceive of ourselves; and back, which is infinite, timeless, silent, beyond concepts - is surprisingly powerful & useful.

Nonduality: Hameed Ali Explores the Illusive Self

William McIntosh   http://www.flickr.com/photos/mtsacprof/

Nonduality: Hameed Ali Explores the Illusive Self
Read more at http://fora.tv/2012/10/25/Nonduality_Hameed_Ali_Explores_the_Illusive_Self#z4hJvIgb2A2q0aJP.99

Friday, February 7, 2014

This Very Moment in Time

     Clear awareness of what's going on right now occurs only in stillness, not in the process of chasing after something, nor in the process of running away from something. Perhaps that's why we fear to, and rarely stop & look carefully.
     Activity gives the illusion of "getting somewhere", whereas being aware of what's really here & now puts us face-to-face with Reality & gives us Ezra Bayda's "anxious quiver of being".

jr   www.dpreview.com

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Judgments, Blindness & Being Right

     It's so instructive to hear another person being harshly judgmental towards people that one happens to know well. One then realizes that judgments are often narrow, exaggerated, inaccurate, unfair & worst of all, unkind.
     There are always reasonable explanations for any inappropriate behaviour, including being judgmental. But preservation or promotion of one's own ego seems to be at the core of most inappropriate behaviour. If one makes a mistake, it's very difficult to accept it fully, make appropriate amends, and move on.
     Those who "catch" & penalize the "offender" are themselves invariably far short of sainthood, & tend to capitalize on their moment of "being right". This of course leads to an ugly seething ego battle (instead of an intelligent, mature, moral resolution). While nobody "wins" such battles, the losses can be tragic.
     The stronger the sense of "I'm right & they're wrong" the more "adversarial" the situation becomes & the more deeply one gets burried in one's own hell - the circular maze of the ego. There is NO clear perspective here. Mediation typically is rejected out of hand "because I've done nothing wrong", "I'm the victim here", "I have my rights", etc etc etc. Hitting rock bottom is often the only way out. See: http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/search?q=being+right
and http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2014/02/486-well-travelled-path.html

     Consistently evolved adult behaviour is rare. Each of us is directly & solely responsible for our own slow evolution of consciousness, every moment of our short life.

Rudy Pohl   http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudypohl/sets/

Monday, February 3, 2014

Noticing & Letting Go of Hindrances to Relationship Building

     Social work "students identified the 3 most prominent 'bad habits' that hindered active listening as 'mind wandering', 'multi-tasking' while listening & 'thinking ahead'. The mindfulness and reflection exercises appeared to bring the usually-unnoticed 'bad habits' into awareness so that a conscious effort could be channeled into preventing them from interfering with relationship building. This expanded awareness facilitated the strengthening of ability to observe oneself in interactions."

       Goh ECL. Integrating mindfulness and reflection in the teaching and learning of listening skills for undergraduate social work students in Singapore. Social Work Education. 2012;31(5):587-604.

Rudy Pohl   http://www.flickr.com/photos/rudypohl/sets/

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Difficulty Understanding & Connecting

     When we encounter new situations, statements, concepts, or ideas, to what degree are we aware that we actually have a conscious choice in how we respond? Whether we engage with OR avoid what's new, depends on our "readiness for change": http://mindfulnessforeveryone.blogspot.ca/2013/11/436-readiness-for-change-is-pivotal.html

      In retrospect, it's sad to think how many times (millions) we've automatically - with little or no conscious awareness - avoided the path of open-hearted conscious evolution. We may have interpreted these (missed opportunities) as: "I don't get it", "This is way too deep", "I'm confused", "This stuff puts me to sleep", "I'm a doer, not a navel-gazer," etc, etc. 

     But the fact is, we all have a lifetime's worth of perfectly legitimate reasons for being preoccupied with self-preservation & self-protection.  
     If our past has conditioned us to feel chronically frightened & unwanted, then our brain is specialized to manage feelings of fear & abandonment ie life feels like a chronic struggle to survive, and naturally, we'll tend to be in survival mode (rarely if ever appropriate in modern times).
     If, on the other hand, we've been conditioned to feel safe & loved, then our brain is specialized to explore, play & cooperate, so we'll naturally spend most of your time near the opposite end of the continuum ie life feels like a pleasant, interesting adventure, & we'll behave appropriately, & at times even wisely, regardless of circumstances. Bessel Van Der Kolk. “The Body Keeps the Score. Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma.” Penguin Books, 2015. 
     In this qualitatively different, universal but usually fleeting level of consciousness, we experience peace, ease, equanimity, clear awareness, timelessness, stillness, silence, effortlessness, loving-kindness, & joy.

     It may take some study of trauma combined with serious self-reflection before we realize the extent to which we've been traumatized, & therefore benefit greatly from therapy to help liberate us from our heavy conditioning. Hopefully, before we die or decline mentally, we become ready to transcend fearful narrow self-concern and open up to exploring & reconnecting with the big picture.

      Below is an excellent short (16min) video of Adyashanti discussing this readiness:

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Karma - not Mine not Ours

     "Not one, not two", nonduality, the ultimate koans or open questions. Opening into the mystery requires a lifetime of loving curiosity - this is a worthy life.
     Yet, it's almost impossible not to be pulled down & into one's own small life at times - to take one's own burdens personally - this is especially true for people suffering from depression. Adding street drugs to the mix is deadly.
     BUT, regardless of how challenging life is, there are many who face it bravely, intelligently, with relentless will & energy. Perseverance & an open mind-hearted embrace of all that is.
     Never ever give up! Seize the precious chance to evolve till the very last second of your natural life.