"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Archive for October, 2017|Monthly archive page

Cool Boredom

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2017 at 12:55 pm

Photograph courtesy Marta Soul/Gallerystock

Oldspeak: You hear it all the time. People forlornly declaring ” I’m bored”. But what if it wasn’t one of the worst things to be? What if we made boredom cool?

Cool boredom is quite spacious, and it creates further softness and sympathy toward ourselves. In that space, we are no longer afraid of allowing ourselves to experience a gap. In other words, we realize that existence does not depend on constantly cranking up our egomaniacal machine. There is another way of existing.” –Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Imagine that. Fearlessly experiencing a gap. In this culture of 24 hr on-demand, non-stop, always on, competitively/necessitatively busy, dead time (:imposing the need to produce, consume, calculate) dominated existence, disconnecting from that egomaniacal machine (side eying FaceTwiGram) and just BEING. Being without goal or expectation, in the gap in activity oriented experience is a revolutionary act. Recognizing the value of boredom, of stillness, of silence. Not constantly searching for things to do to replace boredom.  With understanding that Boredom is not a problem to be solved. It’s the last privilege of a free mind. That in fact “Properly understood, boredom helps us understand time, and ourselves. Unlike fun or work, boredom is not about anything; it is our encounter with pure time as form and content. With ads and screens and handheld devices ubiquitous, we don’t get to have that experience that much anymore. We should teach the….people to feel comfortable with time.”  Take a little time each day to get to know you. To develop your capacity for compassion, unconditional loving kindness, open-heartedness and sympathy for yourself. In that way, you’ll find you’ll start directing those wonderful ways of being toward the beings & world around you. There is indeed another way of existing. ” -OSJ

Written By Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche @ Tricycle:

In everyday life, we habitually try to conceal the gaps in our experience of mind and body. These gaps are a bit like an awkward silence around the table at a dinner party. A good host is supposed to keep the conversation going with his or her guests to put them at ease. You might talk about the weather, the latest books you’ve read, or what you are serving for dinner. We treat ourselves similarly. We occupy ourselves with subconscious chatter because we are uncomfortable with any gaps in our conversation with ourselves.

The purpose of the practice of meditation is to experience the gaps. We do nothing, essentially, and see what that brings—either discomfort or relief, whatever the case may be. The starting point for the practice of meditation is the mindfulness discipline of developing peace. The peace we experience in meditation is simply this state of doing nothing, which is experiencing the absence of speed.

Often, in considering the practice of meditation, the question arises as to what you are meditating on. In this approach, meditation has no object. You do work with your body, your thoughts, and your breath, but that is different from concentrating wholeheartedly on one thing. Here, you are not meditating upon anything; you are simply being present in a simple way.

The practice works with what is immediately available to you. You have your experience of being alive; you have a mind and you have a body. So you work with those things. You also work with whatever is going through your mind, whatever the content is, whatever the current issues are, whether painful or pleasurable. Whatever you are experiencing, that’s where you begin. You also use your breath, which is part of the body and is also affected by mind. Breathing expresses the fact that you are alive. If you ‘re alive, you breathe. The technique is basic and direct: you pay heed to breath. You don’t try to use the mindfulness of breathing to entertain yourself, but you use the mindfulness of breathing to simplify matters.

You develop mindfulness of the rising and falling of the breath. You go along with the process of breathing. In particular, you go along with each exhalation. As the breath goes out, you go out with it. And when the outbreath dissolves, you feel that you are also dissolving. The in-breath is a gap, a space, and then you breathe out again. So there is a constant sense of going out and slowing down.

At the beginning, the technique may be somewhat fascinating, but it quickly becomes boring. You get tired of sitting and breathing, doing nothing again and again and again—and again. You may feel like an awkward fool. It is so uninteresting. You might resent having gotten yourself into this situation. You might also resent the people who encouraged you to do this. You may feel completely foolish, as if the cosmos were mocking you.

Then, as you relax a little bit, you start to call up past experiences, memories of your life as well as your emotions, your aggression and passion. Now you have a private cinema show, and you can review your autobiography while you sit. Then, after a while, you might come back to your breath, thinking that you should try to be a good child and apply the technique. In meditation we have the opportunity to meet ourselves, to see ourselves clearly for the first time. We have never met ourselves properly or spent this kind of time with ourselves before. Of course, we take time for ourselves; we go off to the country or the ocean for a vacation. But we always find things to do on vacation. We make little handicrafts or we read something. We cook, we talk, we take a walk, or we swim. We never just sit with ourselves. It’s a difficult thing to do.

The practice of meditation is not merely hanging out with ourselves, however. We are accomplishing something by being there properly, within the framework of the technique. The technique is simple enough that it doesn’t entertain us. In fact, the technique may begin to fall away at some point. As we become more comfortable with ourselves and develop more understanding of ourselves, our application of the technique becomes less heavy-handed. The technique almost seems unnecessary. In the beginning we need the technique, like using a crutch to help us walk when we’re injured. Then, once we can walk without it, we don’t need the crutch. In meditation it is similar. In the beginning we are very focused on the technique, but eventually we may find that we are just there, simply there.

At that point, we may think that the efficient system we’ve organized around our practice is breaking down. It can be disconcerting, but it’s also refreshing. We sense that there is more to us than our habitual patterns. We have more in us than our bundles of thoughts, emotions, and upheavals. There’s something behind this whole facade. We discover the reservoir of softness within ourselves.

At that point, we begin to truly befriend ourselves, which allows us to see ourselves much more honestly. We can see both aspects, not just the bright side of the picture, how fantastic and good we are, but also how terrible we are. Good and bad somehow don’t make much difference at this point. It all has one flavor. We see it all.

As your sympathy toward yourself expands, you begin to appreciate and enjoy simply being with yourself, being alone. Or at least you are not as irritated with yourself as you used to be! As you become ever more familiar with yourself, you find that you can actually put up with yourself without complaint­—which you have never done before. Your thought patterns, subconscious gossip, and all of your mind’s chatter become much less interesting. In fact, you begin to find them all very boring. However, this is slightly different than our normal experience of boredom, because behind the boredom, or even within it, you feel something refreshing: cool boredom. You’re bored to death, bored to tears, but it is no longer claustrophobic. The boredom is cooling, refreshing, like the water from a cold mountain stream.

Hot boredom is like being locked in a padded cell. You are bored, miserable, and irritated. You will probably experience lots of that in your meditation practice. Beyond that, however, with cool boredom, you don’t feel imprisoned. Cool boredom is quite spacious, and it creates further softness and sympathy toward ourselves. In that space, we are no longer afraid of allowing ourselves to experience a gap. In other words, we realize that existence does not depend on constantly cranking up our egomaniacal machine. There is another way of existing.

From Mindfulness in Action by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. © 2015 Shambhala Publications, Inc.

The Mysteries Of Bearing And Understanding

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm


Oldspeak: “To take bearing seriously entails a shift of perspective, a shift from seeing bearing in personal terms only to contemplating it for what it really is, namely, a permanent and irreducible feature of all existence. This shift is not easily made. It requires a deep empathy with the lot of any and all creatures that share life with oneself…. It is only within meditative thinking that faith, hope and love truly reveal themselves. They consistently elude rational explanation but we do not on that account regard them as illusory…. We can say that while we are bearing our trials in good faith, we are upon the same instant leaping into the only life worth living, the life of peace that passes understanding. This leap is intuitive. It has no causal antecedent nor can it be anticipated as something waited for. It can only be waited on; it will come or not come in its own good time. In the meantime bearing remains. It abides impervious to our manipulations. It does not change…. Since bearing does not change it is given to us in advance. We cannot choose it. Like language, bearing, given to us in advance, is fraught with mystery. We speak of understanding language but we do not understand its origin. We speak of understanding bearing as a personal response to adversity and we think we understand what it is but we do not understand that it remains abidingly the case with every existent from stone to star.”

“Ooof. Good stuff on the seeing the value, wisdom and all-pervading “isness” of bearing a.k.a. “suffering”. And how through letting go of conditioned ways of being, choiceless awareness, detachment to bearing we can glimpse our natural state;” “Our natural state reflects the point of which Ultimate Spirit meets whatever body it energizes and informs. This point of our original innocence has no lust to possess an end in view and no nostalgia for a beginning once enjoyed. Our natural state abides in the time between times which is the timely, the ever present and unprecedented now, obedient to the suasions of Heaven in which is perfect freedom—the freedom from having to choose…. bearing as suffering is a necessary but not sufficient condition for realizing life and that the way to life is a state that results from that condition.”  In this state one can find the truth of one’s nature and way of being. Unconditioned, undistracted, undifferentiated, undefined. Shift your perspective with inner work.” -OSJ


Written By Alan W. Anderson @ Inner Directions:

We have been taught since the beginning of western classical metaphysics that what is is to be understood in terms of itself or as a substance, a constant; its cause is a constant also, whether we term it “God” or “Being” (with a capital B). This reduction of things to their virtual atomic, constant identity was given enormous emphasis in the Middle Ages when the salvation of the individual human soul was the overriding obsession. In our own time this religious perspective has largely given way to an impersonal focus on what we call the phenomenon whether it be observed in language or experimental science. But this change in perspective has not altered our inveterate habit of seeing things as fixed ontological units, limited to and by their own essence.

We pay a severe price for this view of things. We lose the freedom of what Krishnamurti   calls “the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.”3 We cannot realize and enjoy that freedom while we are busy worrying over how to protect and maintain our fixed identity from colliding with other fixed identities in a world of essential oppositions and estrangement. The psychological ramifications from this self-misunderstanding are not confined to western civilization. The Bhagavad Gita, perhaps the most influential Hindu Scripture, describes the Lord Krishna’s appeal to Prince Arjuna to drop this very same   self-misunderstanding.   That   fully   eighteen   chapters   are   required   to complete this Scripture indicates how grave and all encompassing this self-misunderstanding is.

The prince is willing to listen to the instruction that, if followed, will release him from self-bondage, but he cannot know beforehand all the spaces he must encounter. Each of these spaces if not met openheartedly will become roadblocks to his enlightenment. Each space, chapter by chapter, opens up a new abyss. The prince must walk up to each one without flinching and hold patiently until he grasps the attitude and movement that will carry him safely through one crisis to the next. Each new space affords the prince another context within which to face up to the awful question: what and who are you. Are you constantly, concretely your self-image, your idea of yourself?  How can that be since it is always changing?

Krishna brings Prince Arjuna around again and again to face the same question because of all questions it is the most difficult to stay with and to hold to courageously, patiently, soberly and quietly. Perhaps, impatiently, we will explode with: “Oh, for heaven’s sake, this is ridiculous. If I didn’t know who I was I’d be an amnesiac!” But this won’t do either, since no one is willing to be reduced to one’s name, form and activity. As with Arjuna, so with us. We either stay with the question until breakthrough or we bolt from it hoping that, in our rush to rejoin the crowd, the question will not follow us.

Existence, which has always the first move, lays this question upon us at a very early age. Not that the question is intellectually formulated at that age. Indeed, it might never be so formulated for the term of one’s natural life. However, the normal child between the ages of two and five feels itself subjectively as subject. This felt self-identity is often called “ego-consciousness,” a rather unhappy term since it appears to collapse subjectivity into the function of ego. This verbal collapse is indulged in a great number of writings on spirituality which advise that the destruction of the ego is the means to release from self-bondage. This is a misleading notion since it is not the fault of the ego that self-misunderstanding occurs. Without the function of ego, we should lose personal pronouns whose grammatical uses are spiritually neutral. Self-misunderstanding belongs to the self, not to the ego.

Let us return to our Chinese model in the I Ching. The six lined hexagram is composed of the two trigrams for Heaven and Earth. Human nature is displayed by the two middle lines, the topmost line of the lower trigram for Earth and the lowermost line of the upper trigram for Heaven. As we noted earlier on, these two lines, while representing human nature are not intrinsically our possession. On taking seriously this image, it invites us to step back from the classical western view of ourselves as individual selves, as substances, separate from the interplay of Heaven and Earth, which are respectively primal energy and its embodiment. On accepting the invitation to step back, what comes into view is human nature as pattern, an embodiment of primal energy. As such we are but players in the interplay of the primal powers of Heaven and Earth and subject to their suasion. They are the playwrights of our ways in the play of the one cosmic dance.

Here, there is no ontological estrangement between self and other. Instead of a cosmic arrangement of fixed substances here is a panorama of integral movement bound only by the Unconditioned. Each of us is a way of primal energy patterning itself as the cosmic drama unfolds. The career of this boundless movement is not imposed from without. Rather its activity is intrinsic to itself; it is satisfied by its own exercise. Lao Tzu describes the intrinsic, non-authoritarian hierarchy of this cosmic movement this way:

Man patterns himself on Earth,
Earth upon Heaven,
Heaven upon Tao (the Way of ways)
And Tao accords with itself.

Elsewhere he says: “Tao (the Way) does nothing, yet leaves nothing undone.”5 This marvelous vision of the Groundless Ground, this intuition of Tao, the Way of ways overcomes the dualism of the One and the many. It is the One as the many and draws us back to the originary and absolute present. Lao Tzu says that the movement of the Way, the Tao, is a turning back. It is a turning back from the multiplicity of beings to Being and from Being to Non-being from which Being comes. It is precisely this turning back that discloses the role of bearing at its depth.

Before opening out the character of bearing let us note how self- misunderstanding arises. It is much less complex than we might flatter ourselves is the case.  It must not be confused with clinical neurosis with its attendant visceral symptoms, anxieties and phobias. As Kierkegaard noted, “losing the self can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all.”6 On the other hand when self-misunderstanding collides with the self’s readiness to become healed from it and accepts the course of healing, symptoms very like those of neurosis often obtain. They are the result of withdrawal from habitual misperceptions of the way things really are. However, one does not become dysfunctional in the ordinary affairs of living during that withdrawal.

The beginning of self-misunderstanding occurs upon the instant reflection seizes upon a memory of the self’s behavior whether of action or reaction. Imagination then fixates that image. When the self identifies with that image or representation it has misunderstood itself. It has reduced itself to a belief in a disembodied consciousness which remains constant. The self invests this fiction with a name and properties. True, it is tinkered with and edited over the years under the duress of changes in body and opinion but the belief in its permanence is held indefinitely. It is now the self’s final arbiter and judge of any and everything.

What is it that draws us toward and into self-inquiry? It is the abiding pressure of bearing. Western culture, with its inveterate alienation from nature, tolerates thinking that bearing as suffering belongs primarily to our human species. It is argued   that   since   animals   do   not   have   verbal   language   with   which   to communicate thoughts and feelings that animals do not think and feel. The seventeenth-century philosopher Descartes believed animals to be nothing but automata, machines.

In a remarkable and scholarly book by J. M. Masson and S. McCarthy, When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, the authors quote an unknown contemporary of Descartes:

The [Cartesian] scientists administered beatings to dogs with perfect indifference and made fun of those who pitied the creatures as if they felt pain. They said the animals were clocks; that the cries they emitted when struck were only the noise of a little spring that had been touched, but that the whole body was without feeling. They nailed the poor animals up on boards by their four paws to vivisect them to see the circulation of the blood which was a great subject of controversy.

Not all thinkers were persuaded by Descartes. Voltaire, Newton and Locke took the side of the animals. Lest we think that our alienation from nature affects only species other than our own we should remind ourselves of the atrocities we have wreaked upon our own kind since time out of mind, the Inquisition and the Holocaust are but two instances of our depravity. Human nature continues to display unimaginable extremes from sacrificial love to intense, heartless cruelty toward all forms of life. It is not difficult to agree with the prophet Jeremiah who cried out that the human heart is desperately wicked and deceitful above all things and who can know it? [Jer 17:9]

Our usual human response to this spectacle is to avert our gaze from it, as long as we can, since to dwell on it leads only to despair and perhaps even to clinical depression.  But this attitude does not take bearing seriously.  It seeks only to escape from it. To take bearing seriously entails a shift of perspective, a shift from seeing bearing in personal terms only to contemplating it for what it really is, namely, a permanent and irreducible feature of all existence. This shift is not easily made. It requires a deep empathy with the lot of any and all creatures that share life with oneself. Linda Hogan, the Native American poet, essayist and novelist has said, “A change is required of us, a healing of the betrayed trust between humans and earth. Caretaking is the utmost spiritual and physical responsibility of our time….”8 She offers a beautiful example of this reciprocity on nothing “how water and earth love each other the way they do, meeting at night, at the shore, being friends together, dissolving in each other, in the give and take that is where grace comes from.”

Let us note now how we as human first encounter bearing. Whether there was or was not a preexistence for us, it is certain that upon the moment of conception we are housed as the sheltered promise of our birth. Earth which is housed in space houses our mother who in the deepest recesses of her person houses the promise of our birth, our arrival into the world, itself a house, a dwelling awaiting us and given to us in advance. This is how Existence conditions us and mothers us into being. Our life career is an embodied one from the start. This principle of embodiment the language of myth calls Earth. The spirit that is embodied is called Heaven. The I Ching calls Heaven the Creative and Earth the Receptive. They are the Father and the Mother of all lives and as primal energies they specify our natures in advance. But the Classic teaches us also that unconditioned spirit is unfathomable, unbound by any determinants and utterly beyond explanation. This is Tao, the Way. As conditioned spirits we must revere it in silence yet it is our true origin and ultimate nature. The relation between it and our conditioned existence provides a way to contemplate and ponder the mystery of bearing.

As human we enter the world unable to stand. For many months we lie most of the time parallel to Earth. As adults we can hardly, if ever, recall how arduous it was for us to raise ourselves from our horizontal posture to the vertical one of standing upright and unaided. On standing upright, on our own, we make our first formal gesture of independence; but it is a conditioned independence. What conditions us lies much deeper than our need for continued parental care and social affirmation.

The depth of our conditionality discloses itself if we suspend our calculative point of view and adopt for the time being the mythical or intuitive perspective. This is the meditative one within which our potential sageliness can flower and poetry sings. For example, it is only within meditative thinking that faith, hope and love truly reveal themselves. They consistently elude rational explanation but we do not on that account regard them as illusory.

How does our human standing upright condition us in depth below the psychological and social spheres of our needs and desires? Mythically speaking, by standing upright, we mediate what is above us to what is below and what is below to what is above. We are the face of that midpoint between Heaven and Earth, the Creative and the Receptive, Spirit and Embodiment; but we do not stand as effortlessly as we recline. Standing tires us, so we sit or lie down where and when we can to compensate for that fatigue. In fact, at least one third of our lives is spent in reclining for the sake of restoring our energy through sleep and rest. It is in standing that we bear our humanness.

This point of view discloses that the moment of the infant child’s first standing unaided is, humanly, the first decisive moment of its life’s passage. In standing alone it declares its individuality and all the inwardness which that entails. Yet, ironically, this very statement of individuality provides our principal occasion for self-misunderstanding. This crucial point will be developed in the next and last section. In standing alone, Existence has called the child to the universal human vocation which the child must bear and carry through in its own way. Human nature’s vocation is to mediate, to bear spirit to body and body to spirit. The intersection of these powers tradition has called the soul which is an unstable equilibrium. It is an unstable equilibrium since every instant is fraught with the unexpected, the unprecedented, whether observed or not. The soul is the intermediary of endless beginnings and it is only through memory and imagination that it can fancy itself to be otherwise. Try as it might the soul cannot in fact, in actuality be elsewhere than upon the threshold of every present instant.

This link between spirit and body which, from the individual standpoint, tradition calls soul is from the cosmic standpoint the intersection between being and becoming, the axis of value and process. Yet, beyond these, there is a deeper intersection, one which today we hear almost nothing about.  It is the point between what Plato called the Good and the whole interplay of Being and Becoming. Here, the Good is beyond the correlation good/evil. Plato tells us in the dialogue, the Republic, that the Good is beyond being, surpassing it in dignity and power. Precisely as one is enabled to pass between being and becoming, one comes upon this deepest of all intersections, that between the Good and the whole manifest world of coming to be and passing away.

Bearing does not disclose itself in its radical character until the intersection between the Unconditioned and conditioned existence is intuited. Since the Good is beyond Being it is beyond conceptualization.  Plato’s calling it the Form of forms does not reduce it to a concept except negatively just as the name Non- being is a negative concept which is simply to say it is beyond what can be conceived. The Good, the Ultimate is not this and not that.

If we can for a moment disengage from our collapse into abstract, disembodied consciousness and ask seriously what is the condition for relating viscerally to Non-being, we should have to say it is bearing, which is to say, plainly, suffering. Precisely here some non-dualists will object by asserting that with self-awakening suffering disappears.  But this is a hasty notion.  Rather, it is suffering over suffering that disappears and not suffering itself. If suffering as such disappeared with enlightenment, how is it that some sages have died so painfully from cancer? To say that they did not suffer their pain is a trifling, semantic quibble. On the contrary, their bearing and their sacrifice provide us a profound lesson. Existence is not meant always to be docile to our arts and sciences, five-year plans and manipulative cleverness.

The intersection of Ultimate Spirit with the flux of existence occasions detachment in us. The occasion for detachment does not actualize it. It only invites our consent to it. Yet without detachment bearing, as suffering, puts us in bad faith with existence. Another mistaken notion is that adversity produces fine character. On the contrary, without detachment adversity alienates and embitters us. However, detachment rescues us from self-pity and returns us to origin, to our natural state in which we do not act for an object but from timeliness, the detached response to necessity.

In the detached response of timeliness we lose the illusion of agency and so act without contrivance.  Complete detachment within the intersection of Ultimate Spirit and the world turns over our view of things 180° and what appeared above is now below and what was below is now above. This is beautifully portrayed in the eleventh hexagram of the I Ching in which Heaven is placed beneath Earth rather than above her. The hexagram is called Peace. Peace is not the cessation of hostilities.  Peace is dwelling in our natural state, our original innocence. Masculine and feminine energies once estranged are now nearer than near.

Our natural state reflects the point of which Ultimate Spirit meets whatever body it energizes and informs. This point of our original innocence has no lust to possess an end in view and no nostalgia for a beginning once enjoyed. Our natural state abides in the time between times which is the timely, the ever present and unprecedented now, obedient to the suasions of Heaven in which is perfect freedom—the freedom from having to choose. Visionary matters are notoriously difficult to communicate and prose is not the happiest medium to convey them. So I shall try a poem and call it: Between.

Who can wander for a lifetime

In the valley, on the hill,
And not see the face of heaven
On the swift and in the still

On the swift and shining waters
In the smooth wet-molded stone Wide,
wide heaven beds among them
Lies where all the leaves are blown

And the wafted leaf in autumn
Comes, like us, to find its ground
Falling where the hand of heaven
Cups the seeker and the found.

If one is not vigilant, the perspective of these lines can encourage a false comfort. It is infinitely more pleasant to imagine the ideal embrace of Heaven and Earth and how they cradle us than it is to remain alert to the inevitable contradictions and collisions of our embodied existence. Abstract contradiction we take easily in stride. It is when contradiction touches our being that we are devastated since it overturns all we have taken for granted. The real tests me through contradiction in being. Without existential contradiction we have no occasion for learning detachment and distance on our surround.10 Only in detachment is the spirit free to discern the false in the false and the true in the false. Spirit is released to its vocation when soul lets spirit be its eyes and ears. Unfortunately, the soul usually prefers to outward eyes and ears of the body and rarely discovers the inward eye and the inward ear. Unless the soul makes the transposition from the outer to the inner it remains turbulent indefinitely, unable to rise above the storms and stress of material flux.

In one of the uncanonical gospels, the Acts of Phillip, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Unless you change your ‘down’ to ‘up’ (and ‘up’ to ‘down’ and ‘right’ to ‘left’ and ‘left’ to ‘right’) you shall not enter my Kingdom (of heaven).” Clearly, this oracular admonition requires us to transpose our levels of being, the horizontal (right, left) and the vertical (up, down). Our transfiguration depends upon it. Naturally, if these relative qualities are exchanged on the same plane, they cannot effect an inner transformation. The depth and character of their transposition appears in St. Matthew’s gospel. This text is usually given a tiresomely moralistic interpretation. But Jesus was not a moralizer (had he been one he might never have been executed). In this text bearing becomes acutely aware of itself. The following is a standard translation of the text [Matt. 7:13-14].

Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

The word ‘hard’ that describes the way or road that leads to life is not, in the Greek text, a simple adjective opposed to the word easy which describes the way leading to destruction. The Greek word translated ‘hard’ is tethlimménē which is a form of the verb, thlibō meaning to press together, to compress, to contract. What is hard about the way that leads to life is its pressure, its compression. The word tethlimménē beckons us to look at it still more deeply. This form of the verb ‘compress,’ means literally ‘in the state that results from the act of compressing.’ Now our text reads more amply and precisely. It tells us not that the way itself is hard but that the way is a result of something else that is hard, namely, a compressing which metaphorically means an oppression, distress, affliction.

Strictly speaking, the one thing said of the way is that it is a result and this result leads to life. Further, the only thing said of the act of compressing is that it has a result. Neither the act of compressing is the way nor is the way called an oppression, an affliction. This distinction is far reaching and a check against hasty conclusions about the spiritual life. Some see the spiritual life as an agony undergone for the sake of a later, a heavenly reward. Others see living spiritually as a blissful deliverance from bearing, from suffering. The text supports neither of these viewpoints. Rather, it implies that bearing as suffering is a necessary but not sufficient condition for realizing life and that the way to life is a state that results from that condition.

Etymologically, result derives from Latin salire, to leap. Result, then means to leap back; to reverberate, to echo. As a leap it is a transition from one level to another, as a reverberation, an echo. Just as an echo is not a repetition of the material conditions that produced it, so the way that leads to life operates in a higher sphere above our personal sufferings; yet, these sufferings abide as that out of which the way is realized. To put the matter simply we can say that while we are bearing our trials in good faith, we are upon the same instant leaping into the only life worth living, the life of peace that passes understanding. This leap is intuitive. It has no causal antecedent nor can it be anticipated as something waited for. It can only be waited on; it will come or not come in its own good time. In the meantime bearing remains. It abides impervious to our manipulations. It does not change.

Since bearing does not change it is given to us in advance. We cannot choose it. Like language, bearing, given to us in advance, is fraught with mystery. We speak of understanding language but we do not understand its origin. We speak of understanding bearing as a personal response to adversity and we think we understand what it is but we do not understand that it remains abidingly the case with every existent from stone to star.

Since these things are so, our understanding does not transcend its primitive meaning in English which is to stand under. Ultimately, what is it that we stand under? It is the obligation to be true to one’s nature, one’s own way of being who and what one is which existence has required from the moment of birth. This requires patience and an undistracted listening to the voice of primal intuition.

– – – – – – –

From an excerpt of the talk titled Inner Transformation and Bearing, presented by Dr. Allan W. Anderson, in November-December 1995 at the International Foundation for New Human Paradigms in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Allan W. Anderson, Ph.D. was born in Hastings, New Zealand but grew up in England. He moved to the United States in 1936 where he remained most of his life.

Dr. Anderson began teaching at San Diego State University 1962 and retired in 1985. He was a founder of the Department of Religious Studies, established in 1969. He taught courses on philosophy of religion, metaphysics, ethics, scripture, and psychology with a focus on Hindu and Chinese canons. Additionally, he received the 1970 California State Distinguished Teaching Award and the Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award for 1982 and 1983.

Perhaps his most well-known work is the eighteen one-hour dialogues between Dr. Anderson and J. Krishnamurti entitled A Wholly Different Way of Living. The talks were broadcast every Sunday on KPBS between January and April in 1975, and were later published as a book.

Allan Anderson was a good friend of Inner Directions and played a significant role in the production of the following two DVD titles: Abide as the Self: The Essential Teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Awaken to the Eternal: Nisargadatta Maharaj-A Journey of Self-Discovery.


“The Wondrous Path Of Difficulties”

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 at 8:33 pm


Oldspeak: “YAZZZZZ…. this is where the practice meets the road. Seeing the difficult parts of the path as opportunities for practicing choiceless awareness, equanimity, compassion and seeing things as they are, not how our habitual and conditioned narratives say they should go. Not mindlessly reacting to sensations as they arise and pass away. Surely, easier said than done. But that’s where the practice is. The last point was for me the key point. “Not being reactive is not being passive. It’s not a kind of stupidity, holding back or being disinterested, removing oneself from the world. Real equanimity isn’t indifference. It’s the capacity to be present with your whole being and not add fuel to the fire.” Yes. See the value and wisdom in life’s vicissitudes. Smile and make friends with the discomfort, knowing all the while that as with all in this world, it passes away.” –OSJ

Written By Lion’s Roar Staff:

Call it luck, good luck. A sellout crowd of over 3,000 people arrives at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco to listen to a discussion with two of America’s most respected and beloved Buddhist teachers: Pema Chödrön and Jack Kornfield. Then, suddenly, the center’s computer system goes down, causing mass confusion at the ticket counters. But what might have seemed like a big problem on the surface, explain Chödrön and Kornfield, was in fact a great opportunity to practice the Buddhist teachings. Here is a portion of their conversation, moderated by KQED Public Radio host Michael Krasny.

Michael Krasny: We haven’t had an easy time getting this event off the ground. I suppose we could look at all this as a good opportunity to find transformation within.

Pema Chödrön: Yes, I think so. Difficulties are inevitable—and helpful. Once I was teaching a workshop at Omega Institute and everything went wrong. The organizers were tearing their hair out, and, after all was said and done, they couldn’t understand why it turned out to be such a harmonious weekend. Then, one of the main organizers looked at the title of one of my books, When Things Fall Apart, and she realized that the teaching related to our immediate experience. Doesn’t some problem like the one we’ve had tonight happen every day of your life in major and minor ways? Yet, for some reason, we keep thinking something has gone wrong.

The Buddhist teachings are fabulous at simply working with what’s happening as your path of awakening, rather than treating your life experiences as some kind of deviation from what is supposed to be happening. The more difficulties you have, in fact, the greater opportunity there is to let them transform you. The difficult things provoke all your irritations and bring your habitual patterns to the surface. And that becomes the moment of truth. You have the choice to launch into the lousy habitual patterns you already have, or to stay with the rawness and discomfort of the situation and let it transform you, on the spot.

So, whoever had anything to do with whatever went awry tonight, thank you for providing us with this great opportunity to practice before we even started the event itself.

Jack Kornfield: In the monastery where I trained, my teacher would gather us together and then he’d be waylaid for some reason or another. Without fail, disruptions would always occur that we would have to deal with in the interim. I learned later that he was deliberately setting this up. Then he would come in and peer around the room to see how we were doing in working with the disruptions.

Difficulties and frustrations, such as we experienced in getting started tonight, allow you to remember where you really are. You can find a kind of freedom from getting hung up on difficulties that can serve you well in your marriage, your family, and your community, where you will find lots of difficulties and frustrations. It’s the kind of freedom that can serve you better than almost anything else.

Pema Chödrön: We get misled by the ads in magazines where people are looking blissful in their matching outfits, which also match their meditation cushions. We can get to thinking that meditation and the spiritual path is about transcending the difficulties of your life and finding this just-swell place. But that doesn’t help you very much because that sets you up for being constantly disappointed with what happens every day at breakfast, lunch, and dinner—all day long.

Jack Kornfield: Yes, we have these great ideals about how we’re supposed to be. But when we are standing in a long line that isn’t moving and we find ourselves saying, “This place hosts events all the time, how come they can’t get it together?” we don’t have to pretend that our irritability is not there or compare it unfavorably with our ideal version of ourselves. We could simply take a breath and say, “This is how I am—this is anger, this is fear, this is great irritation.”

There’s another kind of gesture that you can also practice, which I think of as a kind of inward bow. You say, “Here’s anger, here’s irritation, here is being really pissed off, and not only that, I had a hard day and I came here and I thought they were going to help me and instead they make it worse!” [Laughter] We bow to that and acknowledge that.

In that regard, I would like to read to you my new favorite little piece: “If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog.” [Laughter]

There’s a certain sense of humor that is absolutely necessary for our human condition. When we have that sense of humor, things become workable. It’s the part that we put on top of our ordinary human experience—and we all put something on top of it when we started our spiritual search—that creates the problem. You then not only have your own suffering, you have all these ideals and images that you hold up for yourself. That puts a layer of spiritual suffering on top of the basic suffering.

Michael Krasny: Some of the most joyous people I’ve met have been Buddhist teachers. They laugh and giggle and are filled with a wondrous sort of humor. Yet, it seems that to understand what’s at the heart of the Buddhist teachings, you need to understand suffering. How do the suffering and the joy go together?

Pema Chödrön: You have to know suffering in order to have the joy, and that has to do with not resisting what’s happening to you. It’s true that if you could do all those things on the list that Jack read, you’d be a dog. On the other hand, the teachings point out that you haven’t simply been dealt a bad hand and that’s the end of it.

Instead of being resigned to your fate, you could get curious about what’s going on. You could take an interest in the irritation that’s rising up in you, and you could be curious about how other people are reacting. We tend to be so stupid about what actually makes things worse and what actually makes things better, because we don’t explore our experience carefully enough.

This evening, the computer goes down and suddenly the people behind the ticket windows are under a lot of pressure and freaking out. When everyone is getting mad, and then getting even madder as they all start talking to each other about it, we can look at this and ask, “How is this happening? This simply doesn’t add up to any kind of happiness for anyone. In fact, it adds up to everybody getting ulcers. Why are we doing this?”

One of the main things I work with personally is saying to myself essentially what Jack was saying: “This is how I am right now. I have a very short fuse and I’m losing it.” Then I ask myself, “Do I want to strengthen this habit so that a year from now my fuse is even shorter?” By sticking with and reinforcing our habit, we could get really professional at making our fuse shorter and shorter. Ten years from now we could have the world’s shortest fuse.

As I started to get older, I figured I ought to get smarter. I noticed that I had the habit of easily getting irritated and angry. I asked myself honestly, “Do I want that? Does it feel good?” And the smart answer was, “No, it doesn’t feel so great.” So I was left with a choice: Did I want to strengthen it or find a way to shake it up, weaken it, and infiltrate it in some kind of way?

Michael Krasny: Wisdom is supposed to come with age. Jack, you have talked about how people in other cultures have a veneration for wisdom, in contrast to the love of youth so prevalent in Western culture. Despite what we might think about the wisdom of age, many people’s fuse becomes shorter as they get older. It becomes more difficult for them to do what you’re talking about because of helplessness and atrophy.

Jack Kornfield: That’s one of the reasons it’s recommended to have some form of practice, and to take the opportunity to practice when it presents itself. This enables you to work with whatever circumstances arise. When people come on retreats, their knee is hurting or their whole body is hurting, so, why, they ask, can they not just get up and move and make it easier?

I’ll often say in response, “Well, you could get up and that would be fine, but at some point in your life there’s going to be a time when you are in great pain—or maybe you’ll be sitting at the bedside of someone you love who’s in a lot of pain—and if you haven’t learned to find some graciousness and capacity to be with what’s difficult, things are simply going to get worse and worse. One of the great blessings I see in people who have committed themselves to a Buddhist practice is that their capacity for both joy and for dealing with the sorrows and the pain of life grows. Practice opens the door for both.

Pema Chödrön: When I was in my late thirties, I was reading a book about Confucius and it said something like, “If you have been training up until the age of fifty to not resist what happens in your life, to open to it, then by the time you reach fifty, life will support you and make it easier. Conversely, if you’ve been training to shut down and try to get away from difficulties, then when you reach fifty, you’re going to become more and more cranky.” I remember vowing right then to choose the path of not resisting.

I am a little more optimistic now and think that a person can start at fifty, if that’s when they notice the need to change. As I get close to seventy, I can see the kind of challenges that physical deterioration can bring. I can see how in one’s eighties one could definitely become very irritable and impatient. So, I feel more committed than ever to avoid any kind of cozy nest. I’m anti-nest, because it feeds the propensity to resist being open.

If you live alone—and I am often alone in a retreat cabin or a similar setting—you have everything just the way you want it. So it’s really good to have people come in and mess things up. Otherwise, you think the meaning of life is just to get everything working the way you want it. But lo and behold, life becomes increasingly irritating as soon as you add even one more thing into your life.

Michael Krasny: Let’s take this conversation to a bigger sphere. If you had the most powerful man on the planet, George W. Bush, on a retreat with you, and he was willing not only to listen to what you had to say but also be mindful of what you had to say, what would you say to him about what compassion really means?

Jack Kornfield: First, I would look at him and say, “You know, it must be very difficult feeling that you have so much responsibility for the world.” I would want to start there. If I were to look at him and try to imagine myself in his place, I think I would see that he is just like all of us. He’s trying to do what he thinks is right and to lead his life the way he thinks he should. I would want to respect that and acknowledge how very hard it must be to have the responsibility he has. I would need to be able to really listen to him, and have a dialogue with him, before I could give any advice. Most people, including my teenage daughter, for example, are not so interested in my advice. But maybe they want to be listened to, so that’s where I would start. Maybe out of that conversation, some questions might arise about the effects of his actions on both himself and other people. That would be a good beginning.

Pema Chödrön: In previous years, if I were addressing a large audience like this and made a comment about President Bush, I would simply assume that everyone was of one view. Then I read a letter to the editor in Tricycle where somebody said that they were a practicing Buddhist and supported the government wholeheartedly. They found it painful that people who profess to be Buddhists and completely open-minded assumed that everyone in the audience had the same view. That stopped me in my tracks, and I began to realize that I don’t really want to foster aggression towards anybody by assuming what their correct political stance should be.

So, I agree with Jack’s way of approaching such an encounter. One of the tenets of the Buddhist teachings is that every living being has basic goodness, and we can communicate with each other from that place whether or not it would influence world politics or change someone’s religion. In fact, that can’t be the goal. The goal must be to talk to one another from the point of view of each other’s good heart. Up until this point I’ve never met anybody whose good heart you couldn’t contact. Trungpa Rinpoche once said that everybody knows how to love, even if it’s only tortillas. [Laughter]

Trungpa Rinpoche called that the “soft spot,” and he said that when you’re talking with someone, you want to find that spot. I often say that to people who are having really difficult relationships with their families. When people look for the soft spot, it can break the deadlock and they can begin to talk to each other again. Sure, they avoid the sticky subjects completely, but they find the place where they still love each other, which is always there waiting to be found.

I wouldn’t have any big expectations if I were talking with anyone such as the current president, who has completely different views from me, is archconservative and fundamentalist, and so forth. I wouldn’t hope for changing his religious views or political views, but I would have high hopes for our being able to talk from the heart.

Michael Krasny: Is being in the present with someone, then, the source of all compassion?

Pema Chödrön: What we need to do is drop the fixed ideas about the person we’re talking to. One way to do that is simply to start asking questions, and then we will see that a person’s soft spot is easy to find. I’m sure you find that happens in interviews all the time. You might have someone who’s a real hardass, but if you are able to get them on to certain topics, the mask comes off, and suddenly you’re talking human-to-human. That’s the now we’re talking about. It’s basically a now without preconceptions of who someone is, what they’re like, or what you have to prove to them. Now is dropping the agenda and just being completely curious about someone.

Michael Krasny: It’s what you call heart-to-heart.

Pema Chödrön: Yes.

Michael Krasny: Yet, we all seem to have a need to protect the heart, to keep it from being vulnerable.

Jack Kornfield: Yes, we do. Yet Rilke says, in a most beautiful line, that ultimately it is upon our vulnerability that we depend. That’s the way to the soft spot, to making a human connection. It is what we would want for the Israelis and the Palestinians, or the Northern Irish Catholics and the Protestants. There has to be a willingness to go to the place of vulnerability, and there are a couple of things we can say about how we avoid getting there and what we can do about that.

For one thing, we have difficulty making a human connection because we don’t trust our heart. We don’t trust that our heart has the capacity to open to the sorrows as well as the beauty of the world. We’ve been hurt many times, and along with that we’ve been taught that we can’t tolerate the world. One of the great Buddhist teachings—it’s a type of medicine, you might say—is to remind ourselves, and others, that we all have a great capacity of heart. We have within us buddhanature, the capacity to hold all the sorrows and joys of the world. An aspect of our great openness is our ability to tolerate suffering.

Everybody has their own burden. Everybody has their own measure of sorrow. Relatively speaking, some might carry an enormous burden, but everybody has a fair measure. It’s just part of the human condition. When you speak of the first noble truth, you acknowledge that this is how our human incarnation is. When you sit with someone, you can see that they too have their measure of sorrows, just as you do. If you can share with them how you’ve struggled with your own sorrows, and how you’ve worked with them, it softens the conversation and shares the vulnerability. It makes connection possible. It’s not a matter of being platitudinous or idealistic about this. The heart opens and closes, and there may be times, very sensibly, when you need to back off and protect yourself, as you say. You have to include yourself in compassion, not just everybody else. We get in trouble if the circle of compassion leaves out one person, “Moi!” as Miss Piggy would say. Once having included yourself in the compassion, the fundamental practice is to witness somebody else’s suffering.

Michael Krasny: Pema, you’ve recounted in your books some of the suffering you’ve experienced—a difficult marriage breakup, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so forth. Was compassion toward yourself a key part of transforming those experiences into something you could work with?

Pema Chödrön: Compassion toward yourself is something worth exploring more. In teaching Buddhism in the West, one of the first things that all of us as Western dharma teachers realized very early on was that most people we were teaching were really hard on themselves. Without self-compassion or some kind of loving-kindness toward oneself, nothing is ever going to happen on the spiritual path. It will never get off the ground. You can find that out very fast at the beginning. In my own case, for some reason I seemed to have had a lot of self-compassion from the beginning.

I learned in teaching people that almost anything you say to them can get twisted into something they use against themselves: “Oh, I can’t do that. I’m not good enough to do that.” If you suggest to someone that if they were patient and could do all those wonderful things that Jack read earlier in the “you’d be a dog” story, they will simply feel worse and worse about themselves and stress how inadequate they are. When they look into themselves, they find impatience, bad temper, and lots of right and wrong. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, the teacher I am studying with right now, says that in order to progress along the spiritual path, you need to be able to self-reflect, to really look at yourself honestly. He says that’s where most Western people get stopped right away. They sit down, they start to meditate, then they begin to self-reflect and to see clearly their habitual patterns, thoughts, and emotions. Then everything is immediately twisted into self-loathing, self-disapproval, or self-denigration. Consequently, he teaches a lot about guiltlessness. He discusses the poison of guilt and how it never lets you grow. When you are guilty, you can never go any further. Somehow, for self-reflection to work, there has to be a lot of emphasis on loving-kindness and friendliness toward yourself. But that doesn’t mean self-indulgence.

Michael Krasny: It doesn’t mean self-pity.

Pema Chödrön: Exactly. The best analogy I’ve heard is to treat yourself as though you’re raising a child. Imagine you are a child that you are raising and that you love very dearly. You know you need to give the child a lot of love and nurturing, but the child also needs some boundaries. You’re not going to let yourself eat all the candy and run out into traffic. In your heart, you know what is going to help you grow. In the beginning, of course, you don’t really know that very well, but you will learn, including what helps you to become more patient, loving, and less aggressive. You find that out through self-reflection, but if it twists, and you use what you see against yourself, you will lose track and get angry at yourself without noticing it anymore: “How could I even consider myself a meditator or a Buddhist? I’ve been meditating now for fifteen years and look at me! I still have this bad temper and all the other stuff!” You need to be kind as you look at yourself and not let it turn into loathing.

Michael Krasny: Wasn’t the Dalai Lama quite interested to learn how much of an obstacle this kind of self-loathing is for Western students?

Jack Kornfield: Yes, Pema and I were at a conference for Western Buddhist teachers with His Holiness in Dharamsala, and Sharon Salzberg started talking about this phenomenon of self-hatred. And he kept asking the translator to clarify. He simply didn’t understand what Sharon was talking about. Then, he asked not only whether we knew what she was talking about but also if we ourselves experienced this self-hatred. And almost all the Buddhist teachers there, representing an entire generation, said yes.

It is definitely something I’ve wrestled with in my spiritual life. It’s so painful, and yet it is a place where a tremendous turning can happen. One of the instructions I’ve loved offering to people over the past decade or two is to suggest that they do a year of loving-kindness for themselves as a practice. All of a sudden, people find out how difficult it is to do that. People feel unworthy and that they shouldn’t be directing such kindness toward themselves. They cannot wish themselves happiness. So, initially, it’s very painful. But after a while it does start to change people, and it also starts to change their relationship to their lovers, their family, and their community. We do have this capacity to care for ourselves and we are worthy of it, and when we discover that, it immediately translates into generosity toward others.

Pema Chödrön: I found it quite interesting that all these teachers said it was the most prevalent thing they encountered teaching in the West, which led the Dalai Lama to conclude that there really is a basic difference between Tibetans and Western people. And now he continually says that there can’t really be compassion for other people without self-compassion.

We might hear that and say, “Great, but I can’t get there from here. How do I do that?” We need teachings on how to develop maitri, loving-kindness for oneself, which is what can bring out our strength and confidence in our wisdom. We need to let go of our story lines. The meditation practices that teach us to notice thoughts, touch them, and let them go, allow us to let go of the story lines. Then we can get in touch with the underlying raw feeling of guilt itself. That’s the nowness we were talking about earlier—being completely present with the discomfort that comes with the guilt and not simply feeding it with thoughts.

Michael Krasny: Isn’t is possible, though, that because you could feel guilty, you might act merciful and kind as a result? For example, someone who is quite wealthy and privileged might give alms to the poor because of guilt or regret.

Jack Kornfield: You can do things out of guilt that are good, but that doesn’t alleviate your own suffering. What we’re really asking ourselves here is how do we act in a way that both brings goodness and benefit to other people, but that also releases all the suffering we carry in our own hearts? To do that, you have to pay some attention to yourself.

Our motivation, I find, is always mixed. When I was young, I used to give a lot of gifts to people, because I wanted them to like me. Then I noticed how egotistical and yucky that was, and I felt I didn’t want to do that anymore. So I stopped giving anything to anyone, and then after a while that felt worse. I finally realized my motivations were going to be mixed. So, I decided to give things but also to pay attention, so that I would not simply be giving because I felt insecure and wanted somebody to like me. I could also become aware of the simple pleasure of giving something to someone else.

Pema Chödrön: And of course, after you apply mindfulness to that act for just a little while, you find out that most of the time the recipients aren’t thankful anyway, and they don’t like you better for it. You never got what you wanted in the first place. So your plan is working. [Laughter]

Jack Kornfield: And then you relax.

Pema Chödrön: You could get very resentful that you gave and gave and gave and then they didn’t thank you, or you could see the humor in the whole thing. That’s your choice.

Michael Krasny: The other day I was driving on the freeway and I cut someone off. He stopped his car, got out, and started coming toward me with a look of anger, like he wanted to hit me. I made a conciliatory gesture and mouthed the words, “I’m sorry.” It stopped him in his tracks and he just turned around and drove away. That was strange, because my initial reaction was, if this guy wants to fight me, bring it on! [Laughter]

Pema Chödrön: We are experts at escalation, adding more kerosene to the fire. To de-escalate the cycle of suffering takes courage, because the urge to do what you always do—scream, cry, hit, whatever—is like a magnet. It’s pulling you down like the undertow. To hold your ground and be nonaggressive takes courage. Doing that doesn’t have to be called Buddhism. This is also what Martin Luther King taught. We are talking about the ideal of a beloved community. Nobody is healed until everyone is healed.

Jack Kornfield: Even though we’re talking very personally about what we’re doing when we’re talking to someone in pain, or when we’re driving or standing in line at the ticket counter, there is a very important political dimension to our experience. We need to deal not only with the aggression we see all around us in the world, but also with fear. Particularly since 9/11, we see fear of the other so clearly.

When we see the other person stop the car and come toward us, underneath our aggression, there is a fear about whether we can tolerate their anger. It is necessary to make friends with fear. What is our response going to be to the fact that the world is uncertain, and that sometimes bad and painful things happen? Are we going to be aggressive in a collective way, or is there a kind of wisdom that we can bring to the world?

Thich Nhat Hanh talks about how when the boats carrying Vietnamese refugees encountered storms or pirates, if everybody panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person could stay calm on the boat, that was enough. It showed the way for everybody else.

There’s a tremendous political task, a courage that’s asked of us in these times, like Martin Luther King would ask of us, a courage not to be reactive, both in the political sense and in the personal, although I’m not sure you ever separate them.

Michael Krasny: When King marched through Cicero, Illinois, he said he had never seen such hatred, unmasked and naked. How does one work with compassion and wisdom in the face of hatred like that or the hatred of suicide bombers?

Pema Chödrön: Well, what did Martin Luther King do?

Michael Krasny: Turned the other cheek.

Pema Chödrön: He did more than that. He resisted the hatred, went against it. He wanted everyone to be cured of the disease of hatred—the victims of the disease and those who had the disease. The whole idea was that you were going to get kicked in the head; you were going to be called names. You kept in mind that these things that were usually going to trigger and provoke you were a kind of illness, and the only way to cure the illness was not to retaliate.

Jack Kornfield: And yet it’s not passive. Gandhi said if he had to choose between passivity, which he equated with cowardice, and violence, he would choose violence. What he chose, what King chose—and what we’re called on to choose in this time, personally or collectively—was to be present with a lot of courage. King said to his adversaries, “We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, to face suffering, and still not stop, still march, still tell the truth, still do what’s necessary to make the change.” Not being reactive is not being passive. It’s not a kind of stupidity, holding back or being disinterested, removing oneself from the world. Real equanimity isn’t indifference. It’s the capacity to be present with your whole being and not add fuel to the fire.


Authenticity Is The Path To Freedom

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2017 at 3:03 pm

Oldspeak: “It takes backbone to lead the life you want…” –Richard Yates

Such a beautiful post. Resonates with me very deeply. AY AY AY! Soooo much time and energy spent pleasing and conforming to how others think you should be. So much needless hurt and suffering experienced. When intuitive beings I came into contact with identified and pointed to the inauthentic they perceived in me, I honestly had no clue what they were talking about. I was quite certain I was being “myself”, whatever that was. So many masks and lies created. So much needless fear and misery generated. Sankaras galore manifesting physically… Ooof the inner work done via yoga and meditation has been essential for deprogramming, decolonizing and deconstructing decades of the inauthentic false self I’d carefully crafted. The process of letting go all that I’ve believed to be true has been humbling and enlightening. Grateful for the experience. I encourage you all to get to know your authentic selves and know the freedom of just being You. Sat NAM!”

Zen Warrior

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” –Bruce Lee

young boy chain fenceWe are never truly free until we are fully authentic in our lives. Authentic in who we are and what we stand for indifferent to the judgement and opinions around us. Authentic in our thoughts and our actions. Too often our lives are spent trying to cater to the expectations of another. We make decisions and take action based on the thoughts and opinions of the people in our lives. We are imprisoned in the masks that we wear far away from our authentic self, the inner being within us, our source. Our inner being is free of judgment and fear. Our authentic self is not confined by our sex, status, or race. It is not confined by some defined role, or predestined life. It…

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In Uncategorized on October 2, 2017 at 6:02 pm


Oldspeak: ” I decided to take some time off from this blog in the weeks leading up to a vipassana meditation course. Took every opportunity to cultivate silence and stillness in life the world. The course was transformative. With all the distractions and diversions of everyday life removed, seeing things as they are became possible. Extremely uncomfortable at times. Observing the truth inside, unmediated, unfiltered, is pretty tough, trippy, terrifying  & ego-obliterating work. Through that paradigm shifting inner work, I came to understand that this blog, which I’ve described as “my therapy” was in actuality having no therapeutic effect atal. In fact it was a mechanism by which I’d be wallowing in and multiplying misery and suffering, a self-soothing behavior of a traumatized being. Focusing on what wasn’t here and now. Generating endless anxiety, anger, grief and fear of being unsafe, that was literally manifesting physically in my body in painful and unpleasant ways. Sitting for 100 hours over 10 days with life long accumulations of anger, anxiety, grief & fear, choicelessly observing it, smiling at it, accepting it, loving it unconditionally, put me on the path toward releasing it. Lots of deep, unprocessed reactions to life came up and were let go. I left the course 10 pounds lighter with more awareness, equanimity, strong determination and deeper understanding of the ever changing nature of this world that is wholly and completely outside my “control”. Accepting that the work  I really needed to do is inside and that I’d been wasting energy and time “screaming into the waterfall” that wasn’t even there about shit that’s not here. NO MAS. I’ve decided to stop screaming and start listening to the waterfall. Accepting that I am the waterfall. Realizing that it and all material forms are divine expressions of consciousness.  Coming to a direct experiential understanding of the words of Maharaj:

It is neither necessary, nor possible to change others. But if  you can change yourself you will find that no other change is needed.”

From here out I’m choosing to focus more on changing myself. Focusing less on what isn’t here and now. Being fully present with what is happening in the world, with less and less judgment, condemnation and despair. Practicing releasing unhealthy attachments to people, things, ways of being, thought & habit patterns that are obsolete & untrue. Focusing more on cultivating silence, stillness, awareness, happiness, compassion, compersion, joy, lightness of being, right action, understanding, healing, wisdom, gratitude, humility & equanimity. Smiling in the face of life’s tribulations and vicissitudes, keeping in mind that the laws of nature and reality are not subject to my whims, exhortations or reactions. Realizing that I’m not here to live in a prison of self-generated misery and suffering. Radically accepting that “It Is what It Is”. Resolutely walking the path to liberation & “truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering“. “Peace beyond passion”. I recommend you do the same. If you have the time and volition, please, take a vipassana meditation course, you’ll change your life in the most beauteous ways!

Please understand, the context in which this present moment came to be, could not have come to be without the presence at various points on this path of exceptional and extraordinary Beings. Beings with boundless compassion, wisdom, understanding, unconditional love and strength. I’ve been so grateful for the presence of these wonderous Beings, who’ve nurtured, supported and encouraged me to be me. Healed me, opened me, taught me, held space for me, challenged me & guided me to where I am today. Life has truly been the Guru. I’m grateful for the experience.

Be Well, Be Love.

May All Beings Be Happy!