Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Curiosity & Openness

     If we train ourselves to stay open & curious, internal energies seem to switch between pleasant & unpleasant fairly rapidly - like a turning signal in a car. The average is seems to be fine - equanimity may be based on this experience.
     It's only when we zone in on one particular emotion, & then magnify it, that we wind up stuck in a prolonged, pleasant or unpleasant mood (trance).

     Remaining spacious & curious about the energies that are constantly flowing through us seems to be one of the keys to remaining balanced & open to discovering what reality is about.

Dale Johnson

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Vulnerability? - Really?

      “A white-haired elderly man, stick-thin with a large nose, crossed in front of us. The corners of his mouth drawn down. His lips dark red. He first looked up at the hills to my right, then to the row of shops across the road before lowering his gaze to the ground, presumably to be sure where the coming kerb was. All of this he did as though completely alone. As though he never took any account of other eyes. This was how Giotto painted people. They never seemed to be aware that they were being watched. Giotto was the only painter to depict the aura of vulnerability this gave them. It was probably something to do with the era because succeeding generations of Italian painters, the great generations, had always interwoven an awareness of watching eyes in their pictures. It made them less naïve, but they also revealed less.”
        Karl Ove Knausgaard. “A Death in the Family. My Struggle: Book 1.” Vintage Books, London, 2014. 

"Thus shall ye look on all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in the stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream."
Gautama the Buddha

Heart of Great Perfect Wisdom Sutra

     Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, when deeply practicing prajña paramita, clearly saw that all five aggregates are empty and thus relieved all suffering. Shariputra, form does not differ from emptiness, emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness, emptiness itself form. Sensations, perceptions, formations, and consciousness are also like this. Shariputra, all dharmas are marked by emptiness; they neither arise nor cease, are neither defiled nor pure, neither increase nor decrease. Therefore, given emptiness, there is no form, no sensation, no perception, no formation, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no sight, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of sight ... no realm of mind consciousness. There is neither ignorance nor extinction of ignorance... neither old age and death, nor extinction of old age and death; no suffering, no cause, no cessation, no path; no knowledge and no attainment. With nothing to attain, a bodhisattva relies on prajña paramita, and thus the mind is without hindrance. Without hindrance, there is no fear. Far beyond all inverted views, one realizes nirvana. All buddhas of past, present, and future rely on prajña paramita and thereby attain unsurpassed, complete, perfect enlightenment. Therefore, know the prajña paramita as the great miraculous mantra, the great bright mantra, the supreme mantra, the incomparable mantra, which removes all suffering and is true, not false. Therefore we proclaim the prajña paramita mantra, the mantra that says: "Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha."

Friday, July 17, 2015

Real Life is NOT "Picture-perfect"

     “When I was twenty-four I had a flash of insight: that this was in fact my life, this is exactly what it looked like and presumably always would. That one’s studies, this fabled and much-talked-about period in life, on which one always looked back with pleasure, were for me no more than a series of dismal, lonely and imperfect days. That I had not seen this before was due to the constant hope I carried around inside me, all the ridiculous dreams with which a twenty-year-old can be burdened, about women and love, about friends and happiness, about hidden talents and sudden breakthroughs. But when I was twenty-four I saw life as it was. And it was OK …” 
       Karl Ove Knausgaard. “A Death in the Family. My Struggle: Book 1.” Vintage Books, London, 2014. 

     So, is Knausgaard depressed, pessimistic, cynical, temporarily "down" - OR - is he seeing life as it actually is, far different than our common hopes and dreams? Don't we keep hoping for life to transform into one continuous glorious beer commercial? And don't we repeatedly feel disappointed because our life is "so damned ordinary"? For Freud, "ordinary unhappiness" was the best he could hope for, the goal of psychotherapy.
     In 500 BCE, the Buddha understood deeply the stressful unsatisfactoriness that (unawakened) life entails, even though he was born healthy, intelligent, wealthy - a handsome prince, with everything the world could provide at his fingertips.

      Dukkha (refers to) stress, suffering, misery, unsatisfactoriness, pain: literally, ‘hard to endure, difficult to bear.’ 
     In its limited sense, dukkha is the quality of experience that results when the mind is conditioned by avijja into craving, attachment, egoism, and selfishness. This feeling takes on forms such as disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, agitation, anguish, dis-ease, despair – from the crudest to the subtlest levels. 
     In its universal sense, dukkha is the inherent condition of unsatisfactoriness, ugliness, and misery in all impermanent, conditioned things (sankhara). This second fundamental characteristic is the result of anicca; impermanent things cannot satisfy our wants and desires no matter how hard we try (and cry). The inherent decay and dissolution of things is misery.”
       Buddhadasa Bhikkhu. “Mindfulness with Breathing. A Manual for Serious Beginners.” Wisdom Publications, Boston, 1988. 

Public Gardens, Halifax, NS, Canada

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


     "In your heart let there be generosity as large as the sea which accepts both clean and unclean water.
     Let your mind be as merciful as nature which loves the smallest tree or blade of grass. Let your mind be strong with sincerity that can pierce iron or stone. Repay the forces of nature, work for the good of all and make yourself a person whom nature is pleased to let live. This is the true purpose of training."

       Koichi Tohei. "Aikido: The Arts of Self-defense."                           

Friday, July 10, 2015

Wholesome Balancing

     "In Indian tradition, the right side is called Pingala and the left, Ida. In China, Yang and Yin. The right represents the male, the sun, strength, fire, day and action, while the left represents the female, the moon, softness, earth, night and rest.
     Back and forth between Yin and Yang. And it becomes obvious, even if I don’t fully know how to live it, that true strength is not soft or hard, but both. That we need Yang direction, focus, aim and determination but we also need Yin acceptance, endurance and surrender. I believe our bodies contain more information than a thousand books, if we listen, if we watch what they tell us in movement and in stillness. If we watch how this affects our thoughts and feelings. 
     And these same lessons are written in nature, in the strength of the sun to light up the world and the strength of the moon to move oceans."

       Rosa Lia

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Listen with your Eyes, Watch with your Ears ...

      “… the shouts of children suddenly fell quiet, it was only now that I noticed. The bell had rung. The sounds here were new and unfamiliar to me, the same was true of the rhythm in which they surfaced, but I would soon get used to them, to such an extent that they would fade into the background again. You know too little and it doesn’t exist. You know too much and it doesn’t exist. Writing is drawing the essence of what we know out of the shadows. That is what writing is about. Not what happens there, not what actions are played out there, but the there itself. There, that is writing’s location and aim. But how do we get there?
     This was the question I asked myself, sitting in a district of Stockholm drinking coffee, my muscles contracting with the cold and the cigarette smoke dissolving into the vast mass of air above me.”

       Karl Ove Knausgaard. “A Death in the Family. My Struggle: Book 1.” Vintage Books, London, 2014.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Freeing Ourselves from the Tyrrany of Thoughts

     "One of the things you notice as you begin to meditate is that thoughts come up in the mind, totally unintended. And it's important to realize you have the choice to get involved or not. That's the intention, the present intention that takes the thought on and moves with it.  
     An important lesson is that you don't have to identify with everything that comes up. It can be a movement of the mind and you decide not to go with it. You watch it - when you don't go with it - it just dies out. 
     It's like ghosts coming up, telling you 'Go with me, go with me.' As long as you go with them, you give them reality. But if you don't go with them, they wither away. This is where the teaching on not-self comes in. 
     Actually not-self comes in from the very beginning. You have choices. A particular idea comes to your head to do something you know is wrong. And you can decide not to go with it. That's the beginning of the not-self teaching. 
     In other words you have a choice to create a sense of self around your ideas. And when you decide not to create that sense of self, you've identified that thought as not-self. Particular habits, particular ways of acting, instead of running along with them, you just stay still and watch them move on their own. And they'll go a little ways, and then they'll die."
                                              Thanissaro Bikkhu

Thanissaro Bikkhu's other fine talks & writings:

Public Gardens, Halifax, NS, CANADA