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Archive for the ‘illusions’ Category

Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything imagessimply because you have heard it.”

It is okay to begin your journey by reading the books and watching the videos and once you’ve done that throw it all away and discover it for yourself in your own way and in your own time.  That will enhance your knowledge, give you practical experience in the area that you are working on and make it “real” in mind, body, and spirit.

I can watch all the great ice skaters in the world on TV, and I can go see them perform live in the stadium. I can feel the beautiful music vibrating in my ears and moving down into my body and enjoy its bliss.  But until I put on a pair of skates I don’t know what skating is!

Do not believe what others tell you about skating—experience it for yourself!  When I began studying metaphysics in the 90’s I was book learned, I taught classes, and shared my knowledge from the pulpit.  But until I started to meditate daily, and create my own treasure maps, and write my own affirmations and use them daily and saw the things manifest in my life—I really didn’t know what metaphysics was.

Even though I heard and read about the power of prayer until I prayed with one of my congregants in a hospice setting and saw and heard her in prayer with me I did not really know the power of prayer.  Her belief in that prayer helped her walk out of the center a few days later healed. She moved back to the north east where she continued to live many years in good health.

Once she came back to Florida to visit her family and dropped in on one of my classes and shared this story with us. Her doctor had told her that her healing from prayer changed his belief in God. My purpose is not to try to make you believe in a God or a supreme power or the like, but simply to illustrate the teaching of the Kalama Sutra, “Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.”  The doctor had seen it with his own eyes in one of his own patients.

Thus we live a life of “free inquiry” not believing in anything simply because we have heard it or read it or seen it on the internet!  Regardless if the ideas are written in any ancient scriptures and in any ancient language. We must discover it for ourselves.  Live a life of free inquiry and watch what happens in your life when you do!

Let me know how that goes.

Shokai

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Emerson: “As long as a man [person] stands in his own way everything seecartoon-b-c-words-slip-outms to be in his way (page 27.”[1]

Zen: In sitting: “Craving is extinguished and a great burden is lifted. There remains only an effortless flow, without a trace of resistance or tension. There remains only peace, and blessed nibbana [nirvana], the uncreated, is realized (page 169).”[2]

Thoughts are what stand in our way.  Everyday our thoughts, create our cravings, which create our resistance and tension which robs us of our peace.  As the cartoon illustrates sometimes even physical harm may come from those words that slip out seconds before you can retract them!

When those words slip out they can cause great damage to you and to your family, friends, and co-workers.  They can get in the way of a great job opportunity, relationship, or friendship.

The practice of mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism can help you create a life where you think first and speak second. Following the Simple 3 P’s principle where you Prepare, Practice, and then Perform may well revolutionize your life.  Practicing these 3 simple steps can keep you from getting in your own way.  They can help you make friends, find new adventures, discover new ideas, and more!

When you begin to recognize that it is “you” standing in your own way and not someone or something else it will be like a big light bulb going on in your head.  It will act as the headlights of your life and will show what’s ahead of you with clarity and precision and will help keep you from tripping all over yourself.  It will definitely help you get out of your own way!

As Emerson said, “As long as a man stands in his own way everything seems to be in his way.” So my advice to you today is to stop standing in your own way! Give up your craving, your burdens, your resistance, and take up the mantle of peace and effortless flow!  Then stand back and watch what happens. Each day you’ll be tripping over those things you thought were standing in your way less and less until they disappear altogether!  That will keep you from looking like the man above in the cartoon! So let’s practice the Simple 3 P’s Prepare, Practice and Perform getting out of your own way!

Let me know how it goes!

In gassho,  Shokai

 

[1] [1] Floris, O. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson. www.odeliafloris.com

[2] Gunaratana, B. (2011) Mindfulness in Plain English. Boston: Wisdom Publications

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What does it mean to be free?  There will be different connotations if you live in the middle of a war zone in the Middle East, or in a job that you feel chained to that is joyless and boring, or if you are incarcerated in a prison “behind the fence” as we say.  Then there is the prison of our minds and emotions that keep us from being free of our thoughts of lack, limitation, and ill health.

As a college professor I have seen that fear in my students eyes when they enter my developmental English class and know that they will not be free to take the “for credit courses” and earn a degree in their favorite area of study if they don’t pass my class. And yet at some time during that semester I can see the light go on in their minds when they finally “get it.”  They are finally free of their negative thoughts and fears and able to move on with their education.

H. Emily Cady in her book Lessons in Truth wrote:

You may think that something stands between you and your heart’s desire, and so live with that desire unfulfilled, but it is not true.  This “thing” is a bugaboo under the bed that has no reality.  Deny it, deny it, and you will find yourself free, and you will realize that this seeming was all false.  Then you will see the good flowing into you, and you will see clearly that nothing can stand between you and your own [good/freedom].[1]

You will be free!

Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 27 years and yet he was still able to be a powerful symbol of black resistance to apartheid. On February 11, 1990 he was released by President de Klerk and in 1991 he was elected president of the African National Congress. In 1993 Mandela and President de Klerk were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work toward dismantling apartheid.

A similar story can be told in our country about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Susan Bright Eyes LaFlesche (Omaha Native American civil rights activist.) and R.C. Gorman painter, sculptor and Native American the first Native American to be internationally recognized as a major American artist.

R.C. Gorman Native American artist

Freedom: Nothing stood in the way of their “hearts desire.” Do not let anything stand in yours either. Freedom is not a place—it is a consciousness.

Be free to meet your good today!  Let me know how that goes!

In gassho,

Shokai

[1] Cady, H.E. (1903).  Lessons in Truth. Unity Village, MO: Unity House

 

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When deciding what to write about I had trouble coming up with something special so I turned around to my bookshelf, as usual, and a very weathered and yellowed book by Les Kaye jumped out at me: Zen at Work, A Zen Teacher’s 30-Year Journey in Corporate America.  I quickly flipped through the pages looking for that ever present yellow marker and my eyes caught a chapter entitled “True Nature.”

Wow, it would be great to meet my true nature today and thus I read on…

The point of Zen practice is to let go of ideas about boundaries and to feel our limitless true nature.  When we express our limitless true minds, we understand that there are no boundaries and no center (page 16).[1]

And so how do we live this “limitlessness?”  Kaye and I have created a list of does and don’ts.

Begin with these ideas in mind:

DON’T_jones-gap-stream-1

  • Don’t be afraid
  • Don’t grasp after it
  • Don’t look for a road map
  • Don’t cling to it
  • Don’t get sidetracked by comfort, pleasure, or desire

DOsmoky-mountain-stream-copy1 Morningjoy weblog

  • Do remember we really have “nowhere to go”
  • Do open yourself to the limitless Big Mind
  • Do let Big Mind be your guide
  • Do let your limitless true nature express itself
  • Do know that wisdom IS your true nature
  • Do realize your inherent completeness

Picture these ideas as stepping stones in a mountain stream. The first stream is filled with boulders and rushing water that keep you from crossing and moving toward your limitlessness. The second stream is filled with rocks that allow you to cross easily and discover your limitlessness.  Which stream are you in?

In gassho, Shokai

[1] Kaye L. (1996) Zen at Work A Zen Teacher’s 30-Year Journey in Corporate America. NY, NY: Three Rivers Press

[2] B&W Picture http://listeningwiththeeye.squarespace.com/galleries/recent-works-2012/ from my teacher Mitch Doshin Cantor’s work

[3] Morningjoy.wordpress.com picture Mountain Vistas Weblog

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Today is the day that I begin to meet my good and look for the things in life, in Buddhism, in philosophy, in religion, and beyond that can assist me in this new adventure in living.  Why begin each morning with the same old thoughts, feelings, wishes, and desires?  If I haven’t attained them yet maybe I don’t need them, maybe I unconsciously don’t want them, or maybe I just haven’t figured out how to manifest them.  Maybe they were really someone else’s goal or desire that was put on me or given to me such as following the same career as one of my parents or living in the same town that I grew up in.

In this new series I am going to challenge myself, my beliefs, my life, and my dreams.  I am going to allow myself to go outside of my comfort zone and beyond my fears to take a very honest look at myself.  To decide what it is about my life that is working, what is not working, what I can release and let go, and what I desire to keep. I might even discover something about myself that I have kept submerged for days, weeks, or even years, or maybe never even recognized.

Dr. Susan Jeffers writes in her book, Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, these profound words:

One of the biggest fears that keeps us from moving ahead with our lives is our difficulty in making decisions.  As one of my students lamented. “Sometimes I feel like the proverbial donkey between two bales of hay—unable to decide which one I want, and, in the meantime, starving to death.” The irony, of course, is that by not choosing, we are choosing—to starve.  We are choosing to deprive ourselves of what makes life a delicious feast (page 11).[1]

In Buddhism we talk about life being “just this” whatever this is.  So as “this” occurs I can simply deal with it and then ask myself, “How did I do?”  Did I deal with it in the same old way, did I take the time to look at in a new way, did I allow myself to experience it (I mean really experience it), and how did that feel?  No judgment—simply looking for the wisdom in each moment of my life. What did I learn about myself, the other person, or the event? If it didn’t go exactly as I had planned or it didn’t go well I might ask myself, “How could I handle it differently in the future?”  Or how could I see it differently in the future?  And yet, today I can stop ruminating over it, beating myself up over it, or putting myself down over it.

As I meet my good today and throughout the week I am going to put more trust in myself and my innate wisdom. I am going to allow myself to “feel the fear, and do it anyway.”  Why, because my good is out there—so long as I am open and receptive to receive it!

Let me know what “good” you meet today!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Jeffers, S. (1987) Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway. Ballantine Books: NY, NY

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Do not be bound by emotions be they happiness, sadness, fear, anxiety, or anything.  The truth is life is filled with good days and bad days, with happy thoughts and sad thoughts, with health and illness.  It is how we view these things and how we deal with them that have made our life what it is today.

What is y3778b286-acc2-4efe-b2e6-a1df354b9050our criteria for happiness?

Have you made a list and begun to check it off like Santa Claus?

I’ll be happy when: I get a great job, when I graduate from college, when I get married/divorced, when I am over this financial difficulty, when I’m cured from this illness… The list could go on and on and then when you do feel happy do you catch yourself thinking…I wonder when this will end or I don’t really deserve happiness after what I did or said.  Du Bonheur Fontenelle wrote: A great obstacle to happiness is to anticipate too great a happiness. 

How often does that happen?  I made a dish for supper and as I cooked it looked like the most delicious dish I had ever made—yet when I sat down to eat it the food did not live up to my expectations.  One day my friend did not live up to my expectations, on another day my job did not live up to my expectations, and I probably could go on and on, thankfully, I won’t.

Happiness can be elusive, subtle, fragmented, and fantastic all in the same day!  We have the capacity to even make happiness a challenge. Have you ever had someone say to you, “What are you so happy about?!  Do you know what’s going on here?” When happiness eludes you do you try to grab on to it, chase after it, or fret over its disappearance?

Buddhism helps us learn how to live in the moment regardless of our thinking: happy, sad, or mad. The great teacher Shunryu Suzuki wrote:

The only way is to enjoy your life. Even though you are practicing zazen [meditation], counting your breath like a snail, you can enjoy your life, perhaps even more than taking a trip to the moon.  That is why we practice zazen [meditation].  The most important thing is to be able to enjoy your life without being fooled by things (page 28).[1]

When was the last time you got fooled by things or thoughts?  Not that long ago I‘ll wager! Just remember “We are never so happy nor so unhappy as we imagine (Maxims page 407).”[2]  What are you imaging today?!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Suzuki, S. (2002) Not Always So Practicing the True Spirit of Zen. HarperOne: NY, NY.

[2] Tripp, R.H. Ed., (1987) The International Thesaurus of Quotations. Harper & Row Publishers: NY, NY

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Rest and unrest derive from illusions;
With enlightenment there is no liking and disliking.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams of flowers in air:
Foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong;
Such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To understand the mystery of this one-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen equally,
the timeless self-essence is reached.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state.[1]

Yet illusions are all around us, they come in the night when the room gets dark and we see shadows and sometimes think there might even be a person in the room. But if we quickly turn the light on we will see there is no one there. Yet our heart may be pounding and we may even believe we heard sounds.

Jamgon Mipham in his commentary of Chandrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara makes many remarks about illusion. He writes:

Some believe that appearance proves existence: if a thing appears, it must exist. Phenomena appear, but they do not exist; the hallucinatory objects [i.e. hallucinations of a drug addict] do not exist, yet they appear.

Being nonexistent, they are beyond assessment as being good or bad (page 373).[2]

Or as our sutra says, “They are like dreams of flowers in air: Foolish to try to grasp them.”

Still we spend our day creating a life filled with illusions of life and death, relationships, good jobs and bad, and on and on we go choosing and not choosing. We even spend time wishing those illusions were other than they are, hoping to see the “illusion” of the perfect mate, job, home, or child appear before us and enter magically into our lives. We create illusions of gaining something and illusions of losing something and neither are something we can grasp with our hands—yet they are so real in our minds and sometimes even in our hearts that we convince ourselves that they can and will exist.

These illusions thus bring rest and unrest, liking and disliking—dualities. Choosing and not choosing. And so we are back to the Buddhist principle of not choosing…“to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless self-essence is reached.”

Jamgon Mipham goes on to write:

Ordinary people already put themselves to so much trouble, imprisoned as they are in the cocoon of their own thoughts. Why entangle them even more in webs of philosophical speculation. This is something that one should rather avoid (page 309).[3]

And yet we do engage in “philosophical speculation.”

And yet we dream…

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Osho (2014) Hsin Hsin Ming, The Zen Understanding of Mind and Consciousness. Osho International Foundation

[2] Chandrakirti, (2002) Introduction to the Middle Way: Candrakirti’s Madhyamakavatara; with Commentary by Jamgon Miphan—1st ed. Shambhala Publications, Boston: MA

[3] Ibid.

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