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Posts Tagged ‘pain’

basket of fresh fruit

Yuanwu writes, “You must not cling to wrong knowledge and wrong views. You must not mix poison into your food. You must be uniformly pure and true and clean and wondrously illuminated to step directly into the scenery of the fundamental ground and reach the peaceful and secure stage of great liberation (page 24).[1]

From the day we were born we began learning.  We learned good and bad things, right and wrong things, true and false things. We began adding poison into our lives, thoughts, and relationships when we followed the path of fear, anger, lack, and limitation. Food is angulose to our thoughts and actions here. This is true in your life and mine.

How are those thoughts and actions affecting your life? Is your life filled with wonder, peace, security, and liberation?  Or is it filled with old habits, fears, anger, and pain?  Are you poisoning your mind, body, and spirt or filling it with goodness?  Remember it is all up to you.

I would equate “wrong knowledge and wrong view” to anything that is hurting and/or hindering me.  Or negatively affecting the lives of those around me from family, friends, strangers on the street, and co-workers.  When the expression on a person’s face is wide eyed and filled with fear, or tears are welling up in them (and not from laughter), or their eyes are focused on the ground—that is because the words you were “feeding them” were poisonous.  Each time you feed them this poison you damage your relationship with them and you damage their level of self-worth and self-esteem. Thus, they end up believing those things and begin to poison themselves and others even after you are long gone.

That is why Yuanwu says, “You must not cling to wrong knowledge and wrong views.” That may seem hard if you were brought up with the “wrong knowledge” and you should not punish yourself for the “sins of others.”  There is a recipe for curing this circle of pain and suffering.  Simply do not mix poison into your food [thoughts/words/deeds].  When you catch yourself doing it immediately adjust your thoughts and actions.  Remove the poison and replace it with love, compassion, and peace for yourself and others.

It may not be easy at first to undo the pains that you have been feeling for years, but all things are possible for those who wish to live a different life–who wish to live a life filled with loving friends, peace, and happiness.

If you saw someone picking up a can of lye you would run toward them screaming NO- NO-NO don’t drink that! How about for us NO-NO-NO don’t THINK that!  Changing your thoughts will change your actions which will change your life for the good and the food you will be eating will be filled with love, peace, and compassion and your life will be transformed.

Great liberation is yours for the asking! Let me know how that goes!

In gassho

Shokai

[1] Cleary J.C. and Cleary, T. (1994) Zen Letters Teachings of Yuanwu. Boston & London: Shambhala

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In this moment what do you have to be thankful for?  If I asked you to list 10 things in your life that you are thankful for what would they be?  Would they be people, things, possessions, your health, happiness, or your job?  When was the last time you actually gave thanks out loud for a good deed received, or in your mind for something tangible, or in your heart for a person or a pet?

Rumi has a wonderful poem about “Thanksgiving”

Thanksgiving is sweeter than bounty itself.
One who cherishes gratitude does not cling to the gift!
Thanksgiving is the true meat of God’s bounty;
the bounty is its shell,
For thanksgiving carries you to the heart of the Beloved.
Abundance alone brings heedlessness,
thanksgiving gives birth to alertness…
The bounty of thanksgiving will satisfy and elevate you,
and you will bestow a hundred bounties in return.
Eat your fill of God’s delicacies,
and you will be freed from hunger and begging. [1]

In Buddhism we might think of everything being “just this.”  So if we are grateful and give thanks for whatever “that is” we might be able to receive the bounty that is lurking behind the gift.  Sometimes even a difficult event or a cantankerous person can be a blessing and bring us bounty when we least expect it. When I look back on the event I might discover that I learned something very valuable from that experience.  It could be something that may have saved my life, or my job, or a relationship.

Are you open in this moment to fill your life with delicacies, to be freed from hunger and begging?  Energy has movement and weight and measure and it all depends on the energy that you give out in this moment what you will get back in return.  Making it a habit to show thankfulness every day as often as you can will do wonders for your health both mental and physical.

So if someone slams the door in your face as you walk into the store or office you could get mad, nasty, angry, and kick the door or you could think “just this.” Just this could have been a broken nose if I was closer or I wonder what made the person so upset, distracted, or angry. It looks like they could use a little loving kindness and understanding today.

Life is painful if you let it be that way.  So today be thankful for the lesson learned from the slamming of the door, for the lesson learned when you acted with love and compassion instead of anger and hate. In this moment give thanks for the person that you are and the person that you are becoming.  Because “thanksgiving gives birth to alertness” and in that moment it kept you out of harm’s way!

I take this moment to give thanks for all of my readers, and followers, and friends, and family for each of you have given me much too be thankful for!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] https://darvish.wordpress.com/tag/rumis-thanksgiving-poem/

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Do not remain in the dualistic state;
avoid such pursuits carefully.
If there is a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities come from the one,
do not be attached even to this one.
When mind exists undisturbed in the way,
Nothing in the world can offend,
and when a thing can no longer offend,
it ceases to exist in the old way. [1]

My favorite line in these verses is “When mind exists undisturbed in the way, nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist in the old way.” How many of us still hold a grudge or negative thoughts about someone that may have “offended” us in the past. The past could be as long ago as yesterday or 20 years—the time span does not matter. What matters is those words or deeds are still controlling our lives.

So we end up living in the past and not in the now moment. Our lives are so fleeting and yet we still spend a significant amount of our short time on planet earth remembering and holding onto the past. Thus what we are NOT doing is living in the present moment with an open mind, clear eyes, and attention to what is going on now. We’ve missed the beauty of the trees in spring, the sound of the snow beneath our feet in the winter, the joy of the sounds of our children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors laughing and living life in the moment.

“Do not remain in the dualistic state” do not hold on to anything the sutra says, the good moment, the bad moment, or the insignificant moment. Let each pass by with a quiet mind accepting what comes, dealing with it in the moment as best you can and then letting go of any expectations for the future—Just this! Be one with the moment—for a time will come when that moment may just save your life, or bring you peace, or help you solve a problem in a future moment. Feel the pain, feel the joy, feel the expectation as you are experiencing it.

Suppressing life only brings physical and mental pain now and often again in a future moment. When you see a sad movie cry, when you hear a funny joke laugh, when you recite an affirmation do it with passion, when you feel like singing, sing! When you feel like sitting in the quiet, sit. When you feel like cursing—curse! Be one with everything and it will help you experience compassion for others both the criminal and the victim. And don’t be attached to anything! Let nothing offend you as it will cease to exist in the very next moment.

Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free [2]

Just follow these words of wisdom from Paul Simon and set yourself free!
In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Attributed to: Seng’tsan, 3rd Chinese (Sosan, Zen) Patriarch

[2] Paul Simon, 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover Published by
Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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When we really look at our lives and the ruts that we have created for ourselves we may wonder—how the heck did I get here?  When practicing meditation and/or mindfulness we want to be nonjudgmental and simply observe the “stuckness” and then decide either to stay stuck or get unstuck!  The choice is always up to us!

Does it really matter “how” we got stuck?  Or is it more important to review the situation and decide if it is worth my time and energy to get unstuck.  Will getting unstuck help me in a positive way.  Will it help me get my homework assignments completed for school?  Will it help me get the chores done around the house or the projects completed at work?  Will it help me improve my health or income or relationships?

I love what Russell Simmons wrote in his new book Success through Stillness in his chapter “Getting Unstuck.”  “…no matter where you’re from or what you’ve done, you’re never stuck in anything unless you say you are (page 143).”[1]

Many years ago I learned about the Theory of 21.  This theory purports that it takes 21 days to create a new habit or get unstuck!  So that means once you’ve observed your “stuckness” evaluated its impact on your life and then decided it was something you’d like to see change—getting unstuck will take at least 21 days.  For me it usually takes much longer than that!  When I get stuck I really get stuck!

Whether you’re stuck in a bad relationship, habit, thought pattern, job, school, or work…you can get unstuck.  Below are some simple steps for getting there!

1.  Make up your mind that YOU want to get unstuck, not your mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, or boss—You want to do it.

2.  Identify what triggers you about this “stuckness.”  So if you’re stuck on procrastinating on homework, work projects, doing the laundry, or cleaning the house it’s probably because these things are too big and are overwhelming you when you see them or even think about them.

3.  To fix it break this “stuckness” down in to bite size pieces.  How do you eat an elephant—one bite at a time!

4.  Meditate on one of those pieces each day and allow the unconscious mind to bubble up the things that are holding you back from getting unstuck.  As they come to mind take the energy out of them and see them being done with ease, floating away like a hot air balloon.  Take the emotion out of the picture and change the picture from one of fear, anxiety, or pain to one of completion, peace, joy, forgiveness, love, and release.  Do not give it any power. Simply observe and let it go again and again till the energy in it has dissipated!   Remember things are “just this” in Buddhism and it is only our thoughts that give them power over us in both negative and positive ways.

5. Finally, just do it!  Like the Niki commercial says.  Do it every day until you’re unstuck and can move on with your new life—just this!

Just sit each morning in meditation. Then while doing the thing, if the emotions or thoughts begin to take you back to the “stuckness” take a quick moment to breath into it, fill it with air, smile, and let it go.  Remember what Russell Simmons said, “you’re never stuck in anything unless you say you are.” The choice is up to you! Meditation and mindfulness are the simple glue removers!


[1] Simmons, R. (2014) Success through Stillness Meditation made Simple. Penguin Group: NY, NY

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We are winding down our thoughts on the verses from the “Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra” and only have one verse and the mantra left to go after this.  All of the verses we have looked at are distinct in their wisdom and bring light to the principles by which Buddhists live.

All past, present and future buddhas live this Prajna Paramita

And attain supreme, perfect enlightenment.

Therefore, know that Prajna Paramita is the holy mantra,

The luminous mantra, the supreme mantra,

The incomparable mantra

By which all suffering is cleared.

Lucky for us these are some of the easiest verses to understand and when the Sutra is chanted and the ideas are used regularly they can help bring peace, love, joy, and light into our lives. The verse tells us that throughout the ages people have lived by these principles and through the ideas, techniques, and practices have lived a life where suffering was limited and for some maybe even eliminated.

So if you are looking for a way to alleviate or at least minimize the suffering in your lives make it a habit to sit each day and before the sitting chant “The Great Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra.”

Shohaku Okumura in his book Living By Vow A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts writes this about these verses:

Although the sutra has the phrase ‘relieves all suffering.’ I don’t believe it works as a kind of pain killer.  Instead it enables us to change the way we view our lives and ourselves.  It allows us to see the deeper meaning and broader reality of our life.  Our way of thinking is limited by our experience, education, culture, and values.  Our picture of the world is narrow.  This wisdom of prajna-paramita enables us to break through these fixed systems of value and see reality from a wider perspective (p. 202). [1]

Just as Okumura says, “Look at life from a different point of view.”  I remember sometime back reading a story about a woman who had lived in a very remote area of her country and suddenly fell ill.  She traveled far and long to get to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  During the surgery the physicians realized that they could not get it all.  They did not say anything to her about that and when she was able they sent her home to die.  Several years later she appeared in the ER with another, but different, problem.  When the nurse looked up her chart she asked to see a picture ID and without thinking said, “It can’t be you—we sent you home to die.”  The patient replied, “Well no one told me that!”   She had evidently “changed the way she had viewed her life” from one of illness to one of wellness!

Charles Fillmore the co-founder of Unity was often quoted as saying, “Pain is inevitable—suffering is optional.”

Yet, we keep suffering and some even talk themselves into dying and others talk themselves into living.  Sitting regularly and practicing the principles of Buddhism is a great way to help us remember that suffering is optional!

Things to focus on this week:

  1. I will begin each day by sitting in quiet meditation while remembering that “suffering is optional.”
  2. I will remind myself to simply return my focus to my breath no matter how many times I have to do so—without frustration or anger.
  3. I will look for the rainbow behind the cloud and focus my attention there.
  4. Lastly, I will keep a journal of the opportunities that have been presented to me so I can keep track of my progress and my opportunities for growth.

[1] Okumura, S. (2012) Living By Vow A practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts, Wisdom Publications, Boston: MA

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Each of us on a daily basis encounters pain.  It can be a physical pain such as a backache, toothache, or headache.  Or it can be psychological or emotional pain like situational depression, a broken heart, or anxiety.  How we deal with the pain will determine how long it lasts, the after effect it has, and the influence it has on our life today and in the future.

Charles Fillmore, the co-founder of Unity Church, used to say that “pain was inevitable, but suffering was optional.”  Wow, that sounds simplistic doesn’t it!  But if we do not learn some techniques to work with the painful experiences we have as they appear we will end up suffering and often suffering for an extended period of time. 

Brenda Soshanna in her wonderful book Zen Miracles: Finding peace in an insane world (2002), writes, “In Zen we learn how to feel and accept painful moments, to become larger than our pain.  When we are willing to accept our experience, just as it is, a strange thing happens: it changes into something else.  When we avoid pain, struggle not to feel it, pain turns into suffering (page 15).”

For example if you stub your toe on the leg of the bed in the morning when you are making the bed—man that hurts!  You probably jump up and down on the other foot, hold your toes, and holler out: OUCH! OUCH! OUCH!  If someone is near they may even run in to see if you are okay.  But unless you broke one of the toes within a few minutes the pain seems to dissipate, you begin getting ready for work, and within a short time forget about the incident.

Brenda goes on to say, “There is an enormous difference between pain and suffering.  Pain often cannot be avoided.  Suffering can.  As we learn the difference between them, many fears subside (page 15).”  The pain of hitting your foot on the leg of the bed can be easily avoided.  Tomorrow morning you can put on your shoes or slippers before making the bed, you could be more careful about how you walk around the bed, or where you place your feet when making the bed.  Easy enough! Skip the pain—but make the bed! 

Emotional or psychological pain is not quite as easy to fix and to keep from turning into “suffering.”  Learning how to use meditation and contemplation in your life is one way to keep the pain from moving into suffering.   And even if you get to the suffering meditating or sitting, as we call it in Zen Buddhism, can help shorten the suffering period.  The longer we meditate and the more often we do it our ability to avoid the suffering is increased. And after sometime of practicing this technique what once took you several hours or days to minimize or eliminate the pain/suffering may take only minutes. 

You may be thinking “that’s crazy” when I try to meditate and I have a problem it just runs round and round in my head taking over all the space, thoughts, energy, and time and no matter how hard I try it does not go away so I just end up getting up and I quit trying to meditate or  sit.

Brenda suggests this: “In Zen, we learn how to feel and accept painful moments, to become larger than our pain.  When we are willing to accept our experience, just as it is, a strange thing happens: it changes into something else.  When we avoid pain, struggle not to feel it, pain turns into suffering (page 15).”  So go for it, feel the pain, have what I call a “pity party.”  When I am in emotional pain I allow myself to have no more than a 24 hour “pity party” and then I’m done.

I can have the “pity party” while I’m sitting, doing the dishes, standing in the shower, or making the bed.  “Pity parties” can be done anywhere, anytime.  Then get over it.

Then take the time to do what Brenda says, “We are not using others, ourselves, or the goods the world provides to ‘make’ our lives right.  As we sit, we see how our lives are already right. And we say thank you (page 34).”

Mumon’s Verse may help you as well:

The spring flowers, the autumn moon;

Summer breezes, winter snow.

If useless things do not clutter your mind,

You have the best days of your life.

 

So the next time you feel the pain you can avoid the suffering altogether, remember Charles said it was optional, or you can do like I do have your “pity party” and then sit with the pain/suffering for a while and let it have its own “pity party.”  Then be done with it.  Remember that your life is already right, and so are you, say thank you and get on with your life!  Let me know how it works out! The best days of your life are coming…

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