Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Spiritual Capital & a Meaningful Life

     "Spiritual capital is the wealth or power an individual or organization has, based on their deepest meanings, values, and purposes. It is reflected in what that individual or organization exists for, believes in, aspires to, and takes responsibility for. We build spiritual capital by asking spiritually-intelligent questions, such as why do I exist, what is the purpose of my life, what do I really want to achieve? If the spiritual capital of a collaboration is high, that is, if a group has a common aspiration for its existence that they take responsibility for, then their collaboration will be an organic synthesis of the people participating. 
     If the spiritual capital is low, it means you either don't know what you aspire to or you don't aspire to anything very high. It means you don't know why you exist or you just exist to make a profit. It means you don't think about what you take responsibility for because you're caught up in your immediate goal, your short-term thinking. 
     Spiritual capital, if it's low, can tear a collaboration to pieces. Spiritual capital, if it's high, is the glue that holds it together."                                                       Danah Zohar

See also:

Sculptor: Marcel Gagnon, Sainte-Flavie en Gaspe, Quebec, Canada

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Safety, Comfort, & Trust in Meditation

      “… a more inviting way to enter meditation includes first learning the art of feeling good intentionally, in the present moment. We need to feel enlivened early in meditation in order to want to stay with it. Mindfulness needs to feel refreshing to ensure the future practice of mindfulness. If we are as unhappy in meditation as we are at other times, except being more aware of the unhappiness, where is the incentive to continue? 
     In my experience, the more reliable way to introduce safety, comfort, and trust in meditation is by evoking memories that elicit the feelings needed to create the foundation for our practice. Trying to think our way into feeling good is futile. Relaxation is one of the most fundamental aspects of the internal holding environment.”
       Bill Morgan. "The Meditator's Dilemma: An Innovative Approach to Overcoming Obstacles and Revitalizing Your Practice." Shambhala, 2016.

     Remembering a childhood experience was a powerful opening for the Buddha:
     “ ‘While my Sakyan father was busy and I (as a child) was sitting in the shade of the a rose apple tree, then quite secluded from sensual desires, secluded from unprofitable ideas, I had direct acquaintance of entering upon and abiding in the first jhana-meditation, which is accompanied by thinking and exploring, with happiness and pleasure born of seclusion. Might that be the way to enlightenment?’ And following that memory came the recognition: ‘That is the only way to enlightenment.’ ” MN 36

     A powerfully-reassuring childhood memory may even be somewhat hazy - like this:
     Perhaps my father, a certain aunt, one of my grandparents, or perhaps even a composite of these nurturing caretakers instilled within me a deep, quiet sense of certainty, that no matter how bleak and miserable life might be, even for decades, ultimately, everything will resolve in a decent, loving way. Perhaps that's why I value persistence so highly. I don't hope, but intuitively know that mystics and saints see things clearly.
     Recalling this feeling is a powerful way for me to start meditation. 

     Find your own reassuring childhood memory.


Friday, August 26, 2016

Toe-crunch Hello!

Last night, walking barefoot in my dark living room,
My right foot kicked the sharp corner of our coffee table.
Instant crunch-pain.
Unexpected immediate recognition:
Nothing personal,
Simple cause & effect,
No emotional reaction,
No suffering.

One moment ends,
A completely fresh new moment begins,
The great river of causes & effects flowing on.

Simple spontaneous experiencing -
Causes & effects flowing.
Impersonal - no reason or benefit for emotional reactions.
How foolish to want reality to be different?

Conditioned mind-body fascinating -
but not really 'me' or 'mine'.
Craving, aversion, delusion, suffering,
Fizzling, fizzling, fizzling ...

Gaspe Laundry

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Freedom at Hand

     "When we encounter tragic events [we see on the news almost daily], we ... recognize that the root of hatred is very difficult to identify. It comes from deep inside of our karmic consciousness [DNA if you will]. We live our lives based on emotions and feelings of love and hatred. This is the source of our daily actions.
     But there is a true and real realm beyond love and hatred. This is ... the realm of Enlightenment [open & available to all of us]. Through this realization, we are able to see one another as fellow travelers on a journey of the world to true equality. Regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation, we should live our lives with respect and kindness." Bishop Kodo Umezu, Lion's Roar, September 2016 issue

     We CAN relax & release our fearful, rigidly held positions, and bravely open our heart-minds.

     "... any concepts we have about the basic nature of reality are incomplete, inaccurate, and in fact block our direct experience of things as they really are. ... any assertions about the nature of reality are self-defeating. ... [we CAN] cut through conceptualization and [open ourselves] ... directly to the true nature of reality." Lion's Roar, September 2016 issue

Sculptor: Marcel Gagnon, Sainte-Flavie en Gaspe, Quebec, Canada

Friday, August 19, 2016

Thinking, Concepts & Zazen

     "In zazen, our practice is to let go of our fabricated mental map, to open the hand of thought, and thereby sit down on the ground of reality. Thinking can only produce a distorted mental copy of the world, and this copy is based on karmic experiences. 
     But when we let go of thought, we understand that the copy in our minds is not reality itself. Then we no longer have to blindly trust our thoughts and we can instead inquire further into the nature of reality. 
     Our zazen is not a method of correcting the distortion of our ‘conceptual maps.’ Instead we just let go of the map and sit down on the earth of reality."                           Shohaku Okumura

Gaspe, Quebec, Canada