Monthly Archives: September 2013

Mind Your Mind

When life becomes a grueling grind,

And circumstances seem unkind,

A simple remedy you’ll find

Is to stop, and mind your mind.

Your thoughts are thinking things for you,

Who you should be, what you should do.

The thoughts assure you that they’re true,

But they have left you feeling blue.

So blue is where you must begin,

Because blue is the mood you’re in.

Take a breath, hold up your chin,

Observe your mind’s incessant din.

The chatter chattering away,

While you’re at work, or while at play,

Creates your mood for you each day.

 So mind your mind. Mind what you say.

To beat the blues out of your heart

Feeling blue is where you start.

Breathe in blueness, breathe out art.

Breathing bluely, truly, smart.

The chatter bathed in true, blue light

Cannot avoid mind’s watchful sight.

Though it will try with all its might,

Mind’s mindfulness will hold the night.

Blue, red, yellow, pink, purple, green,

Behold the colors of the scene,

Behold the stillness in between

Your thoughts of what the colors mean.

When your blues have turned and run

And life begins to feel like fun,

From rising moon to setting sun,

Your mind’s mind minding’s just begun.

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Understanding Emptiness

If you don’t understand emptiness, then emptiness is your understanding of emptiness.

Emptiness can be viewed as the lack of a separate self. Everything is interconnected, nothing exists independently, so no entity possesses a self which is separate from the whole. Everything is empty of a self.

 Also, everything is change, so emptiness is lack of permanence.

Hopefully, this keeps you confused so that you can keep contemplating emptiness, self, interconnectedness and impermanence. Through focused contemplation of emptiness (mu) you can discover your True Nature, which, you will find, strongly resembles emptiness. 

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Validation

When you struggle for happiness, there is comfort in validation. In order to move from a miserable point in life to a more tolerable place, it helps when others recognize that you are indeed in a miserable place. It is little consolation to know that the world is an amazing place, with flowers, sunshine, hermit crabs and wildebeest, when your little corner of existence feels like a dank cell. Who cares if the splendors of Paris are above you, if you are stuck down in the sewers? Yet when somebody notices just where you are, your sojourn through the sewers becomes slightly less of a slog.

Validation is like the rope that lets you climb out of the pit. You are suffering, your reasons for suffering are completely understandable, you deserve to feel happiness. Although you may not be in a place where you can climb the rope, you could tie it around your waist and know that there is a way to freedom.

The rescue rope of validation meets you where you are and shows the way up with the hope of pulling the floor out from under you. Although your suffering is real, and reasons are reasonable, the hopelessness you feel is a matter of mind. Although the cell and the sewer are real, and you perceive them acutely, you are not really in them.  If that rope of hope, with the hook of validation found you, and you believe in the possibility, that there is a way to be happy with who you are, what you are, where you are right now, then you are there. When the floor is pulled from under you, the sky opens up. You can handle your suffering because you are an amazing creature with consciousness. You can move mountains with your mind.

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Judgmental

The reason that judging drives you mental is because it tangles you up in good and bad. It could be that being tangled in good and bad makes you judgmental, but either way, your are tangled, judging and going mental.

Being caught up in good and bad is not bad unless you are caught up in it. If you think that there is something wrong with you because you are caught up in good and bad, then you are judging yourself, which is how judging drives you mental.

Once you recognize that you are mental, judging and caught up in good and bad, you begin to untangle yourself. As you notice yourself judging others or yourself, you can notice the judging event. You are the judge, jury, condemned and/or acquitted. Who and what you judge is not so much a reflection of them as a reflection of yourself. The reflection is neither good nor bad except as you judge it to be.

If each time you judge, you step out of your subjective robe and see that you are also the object of judgement, you find compassion in the mix. You see the good along with the bad and stop worrying if you might be mental. Sentimental, instrumental, ornamental, fundamental, or just plain mental, who’s to judge?

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Good God

The big problem with God is that this entity contains evil. This problem could have been nothing more than a typo at the beginning of time. This entity was meant to be called Good. There may have been no original sin, just an early typographical error.

Deep down, everybody suspects that life is good. That’s why people put up with so much garbage. When the garbage piles up, people lose sight of the good. Just like the error prone creator of the universe, they are missing an ‘o’. Many people who cannot see the good, still have faith in God. They see through the spelling mistake and know that the fabric of the universe is really Good. Those people who get hung up on words and language are at a loss. They feel all this pain and experience evil in world and wonder what happened to God. 

Good exists alongside of evil. Happiness comes and goes with sadness, boredom, worry, fear, anger, angst, joy and love. We are all connected and share our experiences constantly. As a calm friend consoles one in crisis, kindness and caring exist hand in hand with hopelessness.

Whatever concept the word ‘god’ evokes, an all powerful will of the world,  an idol of idiots, gentle hands holding existence, a merciless dispenser of justice, a merciful fountain of forgiveness, or the mystery of mysteries, that concept reflects an essential part of yourself and world view. If you look deeply into yourself, you will find Good. Whether or not you find God depends on your beliefs and attention to spelling.

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Becoming a Buddhist

We all have these amazing egos that like nothing more than to accessorize life. Just like getting a new, expressive case for our new phone, the ego tries to make the self more solid by dressing it up with all kinds of characteristics. We are born into certain characteristics and we choose others. We are each born into a family and we have a body with a race and a culture, which often includes a religion. We are each given a name and we learn to associate all of those characteristics into our sense of who and what we are, our self.

We tend to strongly identify with those characteristics, which we think are permanent, such as our facial features, our ethnicity, our gender, or our race. Religion is one of the characteristics that sits near what we think of as the core of our being. In society, all of these various roles come with behavioural expectations. We start to suffer when we notice that these core identities and associated expectations are in conflict with our experience. When we suffer, we start scrambling to change ourselves and associate new characteristics with our sense of self. When we begin the task of aligning ourselves toward a more comfortable truth, we often look to a new religion. It seems that we can become a whole new person when we toss out one set of expectations and take on another.

Buddhism is a great religion for people seeking happiness, but there is no need to become a Buddhist. Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist, he was just Buddha. He was a Hindu and a prince and intensely uncomfortable with the expectations associated with his identity. As you seek a new identity, you start right where you are, with your present identity and associated expectations and suffering. You are just like Buddha. If you follow the path of Buddhism, you eventually learn that you are Buddha. There is no need to become a Buddhist as you explore your identity. You only need to be Buddha, which you are.

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You Don’t Have To Like It

One of the liberating secrets of Zen is that even though everything that matters happens in the present moment,  you don’t always have to like the present moment. If you think that you always have to enjoy the present, you will start kicking yourself every time you are not happy.  When you are not happy, you don’t need to be kicked. That just makes you less happy.

To find liberation through the present moment, you have to experience whatever is happening in the present moment. Buddha made a living pointing out that the present moment is filled with suffering. Nobody likes suffering. That is why it is called suffering. If you liked it, it would be called enjoyment.

When you live mindfully, cultivating peace in your life, you will continue to find opportunities to suffer. You don’t have to paint those moments with pretty thoughts and pretend that because you know that you are one with the universe that nothing can get under your skin. The challenge of mindfulness is to see how it feels to be annoyed, upset, sad, hopeless, angry, bored, or scared. As you practice being mindful through your suffering, you learn to visit with those feelings when they are there, and then escort them right out the door. Happiness will be there when they are gone. That you will like. Suffering, not so much.

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Warning: Words

Please don’t read this. These are words, lots of words. They are misleading and confusing. They hang around together, acting like ideas. They enter your head, through your eyes and interact with your constantly changing mind trying to alter how you see the world. They pretend to be true. They are not true. They are words.

Although, these are words and cannot be trusted, these are kind words. When your mind is busy with other words, kind words are a welcome change of pace. They bring some soothing relief to a troubled mind. Engaging words interrupt those thoughts that were buzzing about all the distress in your life. Like putting a fresh bouquet of flowers on the table, kind words can brighten your mind. They evoke feelings of peace and hope, just by showing up in a sentence. They are words though, the peace and hope is something in you, sitting there beneath the stream of words running through your mind.

Words have power. They are like a mental police force defending your idea of the truth. You may be too busy living your truth to notice what your words are doing in your mind or to those around you. They just keep coming, doing their thing. Even as new words bring new ideas to your mind, the old guard is busy defending your truth, picking apart the flawed truth of the new words. Of course the new words are carrying a flawed truth. They are words.

These words are written for people who are being held hostage by their own words. They are arranged to highlight the importance of kindness, peace and hope, which is not contained in words, but beyond them. When you have recognized the source of peace in your life, your words will reflect that and there will be silence.

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Greatness

It’s time to recognize your greatness. Your potential for greatness doesn’t matter, that has nothing to do with anything. Your greatness cannot be compared to anybody else’s greatness, because that is their greatness. Your greatness cannot be measured by your attitude or accomplishments. Your greatness sits in your heart of hearts and expresses itself though everything that you do. Even doubting your greatness is an expression of your greatness.

Recognizing greatness in others is also part of your greatness. It doesn’t matter if others can see your greatness or not. If they can’t, that is their limitation, as they do not understand their own greatness. They likely believe that there is a limited amount of greatness in the world and they are trying to compete for scraps. When you recognize your greatness, you cannot hide it, it shines through everything you do.

Once your recognize your greatness, life gets a little easier because you no longer have to compete. You are free to be you. If you hurt, you don’t hurt because you are not great, you hurt because you hurt. If you choose to compete, your style is marked with kindness and compassion and the prize is not demonstrating your greatness, but helping others recognize theirs. Mighty great of you.

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Choose Wisely

There is a popular myth that we can choose to be happy. If that were true, there would be no problems in the world. Everybody, in every circumstance, would choose to be happy and peace and love would prevail. Asking somebody who is depressed to choose to be happy is like asking a drowning person to choose to swim. It is not an available choice.

When you are drowning you don’t have the capacity to breathe deeply, relax and let your body float. You’re lucky if you can use what air you have in your lungs to scream for help. When you are depressed, you are drowning in time. You are drowning in yourself. You don’t have the capacity to access happiness. You do have the ability to work toward happiness. That is what you can choose to do.

When you are depressed your most important job is addressing your mood. That is your full time job, regardless of what other jobs you have. When you choose to work toward happiness, you hire yourself as the only qualified project manager to deal with your emotional state. Then you go to work, day and night, until forever. When you choose to take on this task, you may need to bring in outside help. Friends, family and people in the community can all work with you on the very important task at hand. As project manager, your main job is to be especially kind to yourself and pay attention to your moods. You can see what thoughts are associated with which moods. You can see what time your moods like to come and go. You can see how activity, inactivity, people, sleep, foods, drugs, medications, and the weather interact with your moods. The information you gather will help you and those around you to assist you in your project. It will probably also assist your assistants in their secret (or not so secret) projects to live with their own moods.

Although you can’t choose to be happy, when you choose to stick with the task of taking care of yourself and addressing your moods, when you make that choice every day, or every minute, you will discover how to find the pockets of air within time and yourself. Whenever you find the air, breathe deeply. That will fuel your wisdom and allow you to keep making the right choices. When you are more comfortable in time and yourself, you will breathe easily and see happiness all around you. Then you can choose to show others the way. Peace and love will prevail.

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