Friday, 22 January 2010

21 tips for success with happiness

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.

Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.

When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

Be engaged at least six months before you get married.

Believe in love at first sight.

Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much.

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling.

Don't judge people by their relatives.

Talk slowly but think quickly.

When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'

Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.

Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions.

Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship.

When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice.

Spend some time alone.

A true friend is someone who reaches for your hand and touches your heart.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010


1. Remember that leadership isn't about your position. It's about your influence.
2. Get fit like a pro athlete.
3. Lift people up versus tearing people down
4. Protect your good name. An impeccable reputation take a lifetime to build. And 60 seconds to loose.
5. Surround yourself with positive, ethical people who are committed to excellence.
6. Remember that even a 1% daily innovation rate amounts to at least a 100% rate of innovation in 100 days.
7. Believe in your dreams (even when others laugh at them).
8. Measure your success, not by your net worth but by your self worth (and how happy you feel).
9. Take an intelligent risk every 24 hours. No try-No Win.
10. Read "Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist".
11. Watch "Man on Wire".
12. Regardless of your title at work, be a team builder.
13. Remember that business is all about relationships and human connections.
14. Say "please" more.
15. Say "thank you" more.
16. Know your Big 5: the five things that need to happen by the end of this year for you to feel its been your best year yet.
17. Read your big 5 every morning while the rest of the world s asleep.
18. Read "As You Think". At least twice this year.
19. Be willing to fail. It's the price of greatness.
20. Focus less on making money and more on creating value.
21. Spend less, save more.

For more of Robin's ideas to lead and win in 2010, click here.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Who am I

... I am a qualified professional Life Coach and Stress Coach; I take immense pleasure from my work helping people who are in a phase in live and in circumstances where they do not have the resources to handle this phase and these circumstances.
I love helping people who are having a hard time, who have a major challenge in live, maybe who are in the middle of a crisis, a life crisis perhaps. I love helping this people, and assisting them to find the resources they need to go along another path, finding there course of life; and I enjoy being part of people achieving successes they thought were beyond them.
I love to assist others, to be a helper and a coach, helping them overcome obstacles to reach there dreams and goals.

In my deed as a helper, and in my own life as a human being, I am of the opinion that everything change; every crisis or challenge, every obstacle, has a solution, , it depends upon what we focus upon (that’s the reason why the door is in the logo); and when we are in trouble times we have the opportunity to learn something and become stronger.
I am of the opinion that the key of life is our thoughts, The Law of Attraction and Love, love from our heard, pure unconditional love (that’s the reason why The Ankh has the colour green (the colour of the heart chakra), and The Lotus flower with its twelve petals (also representing the heart chakra) is in the logo).
The hexagram in the logo can symbolise many different things, for me the two triangles are locked together in opposite directions and is showing a harmonious union of the feminine (anima) and the masculine (animus); and the reason why this is in the logo, is because I am of the opinion that we as human beings are made of both anima and animus and we have to get in contact with both to become a unified whole.

I have been studying people (including myself) :-) and behaviour (including my own) :-) a while now, and from my studying, reading, hearing, meditation etc. my conclusion is that it is the thoughts that do the trick. Everything comes from what you think of something or anything; behind/before any emotion is a thought, simple as that, this is a law. In every thought there is a judgment, an opinion, which leads to a verdict of this something or anything, which then leads to a condemnation or a glorification, an there you have your choice and The Law of Attraction, you have the choice of gratitude and appreciation and the positive thoughts and emotions!

I love doing this I am doing on this page, because I do believe that spreading gratitude and appreciation according to The Law of Attraction will bring joy and happiness, and also abundance and prosperity in every way to people all around the world, and this I am very grateful for and this I do appreciate very much having the possibility to do! Thank you very much for giving me this chance!

Best regards
Poul-Erik Juhl

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Meditating on No-Self - Sister Ayya Khema

In Buddhism we use the words "self" and "no-self," and so it is important to understand just what this "no-self," anatta, is all about, even if it is first just an idea, because the essence of the Buddha's teaching hinges on this concept. And in this teaching Buddhism is unique. No one, no other spiritual teacher, has formulated no-self in just this way. And because it has been formulated by him in this way, there is also the possibility of speaking about it. Much has been written about no-self, but in order to know it, one has to experience it. And that is what the teaching aims at, the experience of no-self.

Yet in order to experience no-self, one has first to fully know self. Actually know it. But unless we do know what this self is, this self called "me," it is impossible to know what is meant by "there is no self there." In order to give something away, we have to first fully have it in hand.

We are constantly trying to reaffirm self. Which already shows that this "self" is a very fragile and rather wispy sort of affair, because if it weren't why would we constantly have to reaffirm it? Why are we constantly afraid of the "self" being threatened of its being insecure, of its not getting what it needs for survival? If it were such a solid entity as we believe it to be, we would not feel threatened so often.

We affirm "self" again and again through identification. We identify with a certain name, an age, a sex, an ability, an occupation. "I am a lawyer, I am a doctor. I am an accountant, I am a student." And we identify with the people we are attached to. "I am a husband, I am a wife, I am a mother, I am a daughter, I am a son." Now, in the manner of speech, we have to use "self" in that way — but it isn't only in speech. We really think that that "self" is who we are. We really believe it. There is no doubt in our mind that that "self" is who we are. When any of these factors is threatened, if being a wife is threatened, if being a mother is threatened, if being a lawyer is threatened, if being a teacher is threatened — or if we lose the people who enable us to retain that "self" — what a tragedy!

The self-identification becomes insecure, and "me" finds it hard to say "look at me," "this is me." Praise and blame are included. Praise reaffirms "me." Blame threatens "me." So we like the praise and we dislike the blame. The ego is threatened. Fame and infamy — same thing. Loss and gain. If we gain, the ego gets bigger; if we lose, it gets a bit smaller. So we are constantly in a quandary, and in constant fear. The ego might lose a little bit of its grandeur. It might be made a bit smaller by someone. And it happens to all of us. Somebody is undoubtedly going to blame us for something eventually. Even the Buddha was blamed.

Now the blame that is levied at us is not the problem. The problem is our reaction. The problem is that we feel smaller. The ego has a hard time reasserting itself. So what we usually do is we blame back, making the other's ego a bit smaller too.

Identification with whatever it is that we do and whatever it is that we have, be it possessions or people, is, so we believe, needed for our survival. "Self" survival. If we don't identify with this or that, we feel as if we are in limbo. This is the reason why it is difficult to stop thinking in meditation. Because without thinking there would be no identification. If I don't think, what do I identify with? It is difficult to come to a stage in meditation in which there is actually nothing to identify with any more.

Happiness, too, may be an identification. "I am happy." "I am unhappy." Because we are so keen on survival, we have got to keep on identifying. When this identification becomes a matter of the life or death of the ego, which it usually is, then the fear of loss becomes so great that we can be in a constant state of fear. Constantly afraid to lose either the possessions that make us what we are, or the people that make us what we are. If we have no children, or if they all die, we are no longer a mother. So fear is paramount. The same goes for all other identifications. Not a very peaceful state of living and what is it due to? Only one thing: ego, the craving to be.

This identification results, of course, in craving for possessing. And this possessing results in attachment. What we have, what we identify with, we are attached to. That attachment, that clinging, makes it extremely difficult to have a free and open viewpoint. This kind of clinging, whatever it may be that we cling to — it may not be clinging to motor cars and houses, it may not even be clinging to people — but we certainly cling to views and opinions. We cling to our world view. We cling to the view of how we are going to be happy. Maybe we cling to a view of who created this universe. Whatever it is we cling to, even how the government should run the country, all of that makes it extremely difficult to see things as they really are. To be open-minded. And it is only an open mind which can take in new ideas and understanding.

Lord Buddha compared listeners to four different kinds of clay vessels. The first clay vessel is one that has holes at the bottom. If you pour water into it, it runs right out. In other words, whatever you teach that person is useless. The second clay vessel he compared to one that had cracks in it. If you pour water into it, the water seeps out. These people cannot remember. Cannot put two and two together. Cracks in the understanding. The third listener he compared to a vessel that was completely full. Water cannot be poured in for it's full to the brim. Such a person, so full of views he can't learn anything new! But hopefully, we are the fourth kind. The empty vessels without any holes or cracks. Completely empty.

I dare say we are not. But may be empty enough to take in enough. To be empty like that, of views and opinions, means a lack of clinging. Even a lack of clinging to what we think is reality. Whatever we think reality is, it surely is not, because if it were, we would never be unhappy for a single moment. We would never feel a lack of anything. We would never feel a lack of companionship, of ownership. We would never feel frustrated, bored. If we ever do, whatever we think is real, is not. What is truly reality is completely fulfilling. If we aren't completely fulfilled, we aren't seeing complete reality. So, any view that we may have is either wrong or it is partial.

Because it is wrong or partial, and bounded by the ego, we must look at it with suspicion. Anything we cling to keeps us bound to it. If I cling to a table-leg, I can't possibly get out the door. There is no way I can move. I am stuck. Not until I let go will I have the opportunity to get out. Any identification, any possession that is clung to, is what stops us from reaching transcendental reality. Now we can easily see this clinging when we cling to things and people, but we cannot easily see why the five khandhas are called the five clung-to aggregates. That is their name, and they are, in fact, what we cling to most. That is an entire clinging. We don't even stop to consider when we look at our body, and when we look at our mind, or when we look at feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness — vedana, sañña, sankhara, and viññana. We look at this mind-and-body, nama-rupa, and we don't even doubt the fact that this is my feeling, my perception, my memory, my thoughts, and my awareness of my consciousness. And no one starts doubting until they start seeing. And for that seeing we need a fair bit of empty space apart from views and opinions.

Clinging is the greatest possessiveness and attachment we have. As long as we cling we cannot see reality. We cannot see reality because clinging is in the way. Clinging colors whatever we believe to be true. Now it is not possible to say "all right, I'll stop clinging." We can't do that. The process of taking the "me" apart, of not believing any more that this is one whole, is a gradual one. But if meditation has any benefit and success, it must show that first of all there is mind and there is body. There isn't one single thing acting in accord all the time. There is mind which is thinking and making the body act. Now that is the first step in knowing oneself a little clearer. And then we can note "this is a feeling" and "I am giving this feeling a name" which means memory and perception. "This is the thought that I am having about this feeling. The feeling has come about because the mind-consciousness has connected with the feeling that has arisen."

Take the four parts of the khandhas that belong to the mind apart. When we do that while it is happening — not now when we are thinking about at-but while it is happening, then we get an inkling that this isn't really me, that these are phenomena that are arising, which stay a moment, and then cease. How long does mind-consciousness stay on one object? And how long do thoughts last? And have we really invited them?

The clinging, the clung-to, are what make the ego arise. Because of clinging the notion of "me" arises and then there is me, and me having all the problems. Without me would there be problems? If there weren't anyone sitting inside me — as we think there is — who is called I or me or John, Claire, then who is having the problem? The khandhas do not have any problems. The khandhas are just processes. They are phenomena, and that is all. They are just going on and on and on. But because I am grasping at them, and trying to hold on to them, and saying: "it's me, it's me feeling, it's me wanting,." then problems arise.

If we really want to get rid of suffering, completely and totally, then clinging has to go. The spiritual path is never one of achievement; it is always one of letting go. The more we let go, the more there is empty and open space for us to see reality. Because what we let go of is no longer there, there is the possibility of just moving without clinging to the results of the movement. As long as we cling to the results of what we do, as long as we cling to the results of what we think, we are bound, we are hemmed in.

Now there is a third thing that we do: we are interested in becoming something or somebody. Interested in becoming an excellent meditator. Interested in becoming a graduate. Interested in becoming something which we are not. And becoming something stops us from being. When we are stopped from being, we cannot pay attention to what there really is. All this becoming business is, of course, in the future. Since whatever there is in the future is conjecture, it is a dream world we live in. The only reality we can be sure of is this particular moment right now; and this particular moment as you must be able to be aware of — has already passed and this one has passed and the next one has also passed. See how they are all passing! That is the impermanence of it all. Each moment passes, but we cling, trying to hold on to them. Trying to make them a reality. Trying to make them a security. Trying to make them be something which they are not. See how they are all passing. We cannot even say it as quickly as they are doing it.

There is nothing that is secure. Nothing to hold on to, nothing that is stable. The whole universe is constantly falling apart and coming back together. And that includes the mind and the body which we call "I." You may believe it or not, it makes no difference. In order to know it, you must experience it; when you experience it, it's perfectly clear. What one experiences is totally clear. No one can say it is not. They may try, but their objections make no sense because you have experienced it. It's the same thing as biting into the mango to know its taste.

To experience it, one needs meditation. An ordinary mind can only know ordinary concepts and ideas. If one wants to understand and experience extraordinary experiences and ideas, one has to have an extraordinary mind. An extraordinary mind comes about through concentration. Most meditators have experienced some stage that is different then the one they are use to. So it is not ordinary any more. But we have to fortify that far more than just the beginning stage. To the point where the mind is truly extraordinary. Extraordinary in the sense that it can direct itself to where it wants to go. Extraordinary in the sense that it no longer gets perturbed by everyday events. And when the mind can concentrate, then it experiences states which it has never known before. To realize that your universe constantly falls apart and comes back together again is a meditative experience. It takes practice, perseverance and patience. And when the mind is unperturbed and still, equanimity, evenmindedness, peacefulness arise.

At that time the mind understands the idea of impermanence to such an extent that it sees itself as totally impermanent. And when one sees one's own mind as being totally impermanent, there is a shift in one's viewpoint. That shift I like to compare with a kaleidoscope that children play with. A slight touch and you get a different picture. The whole thing looks quite different with just a slight shift.

Non-self is experienced through the aspect of impermanence, through the aspect of unsatisfactoriness, and through the aspect of emptiness. Empty of what? The word "emptiness" is so often misunderstood because when one only thinks of it as a concept, one says "what do you mean by empty?" Everything is there: there are the people, and there are their insides, guts and their bones and blood and everything is full of stuff — and the mind is not empty either. It's got ideas, thoughts and feelings. And even when it doesn't have those, what do you mean by emptiness? The only thing that is empty is the emptiness of an entity.

There is no specific entity in anything. That is emptiness. That is the nothingness. That nothingness is also experienced in meditation. It is empty, it is devoid of a specific person, devoid of a specific thing, devoid of anything which makes it permanent, devoid of anything which even makes it important. The whole thing is in flux. So the emptiness is that. And the emptiness is to be seen everywhere; to be seen in oneself. And that is what is called anatta, non-self. Empty of an entity. There is nobody there. It is all imagination. At first that feels very insecure.

That person that I've been regarding with so much concern, that person trying to do this or that, that person who will be my security, will be my insurance for a happy life — once I find that person — that person does not really exist. What a frightening and insecure idea that is! What a feeling of fear arises! But as a matter of fact, it's just the reverse. If one accepts and bears that fright and goes through it, one comes to complete and utter relief and release.

I'll give you a simile: Imagine you own a very valuable jewel which is so valuable that you place your trust in it so that should you fall upon hard times, it will look after you. It's so valuable that you can have it as your security. You don't trust anybody. So you have a safe inside your house and that is where you put your jewel. Now you have been working hard for a number of years and you think you deserve a holiday. So now, what to do with the jewel? Obviously you cannot take it with you on your seaside holiday. So you buy new locks for the doors to your house and you bar your windows and you alert your neighbors. You tell them about the proposed holiday and ask them to look after you house — and the safe in it. And they say they will, of course. You should be quite at ease and so you go off on your holiday.

You go to the beach, and it's wonderful. Marvelous. The palm trees are swaying in the wind, and the spot you've chosen on the beach is nice and clean. The waves are warm and it's all lovely. The first day you really enjoy yourself. But on the second day you begin to wonder; the neighbors are very nice people, but they do go and visit their children. They are not always at home, and lately there has been a rash of burglaries in the neighborhood. And on the third day you've convinced yourself that something dreadful is going to happen, and you go back home. You walk in and open the safe. Everything is all right. You go over to the neighbors and they ask, "Why did you come back? We were looking after your place. You didn't have to come back. Everything is fine."

The next year, the same thing. Again you tell the neighbors, "Now this time I am really going to stay away for a month. I need this holiday as I've been working hard." So they say, "Absolutely no need to worry, just take off. Go to the beach." So once more you bar the windows, lock the doors, get everything shipshape, and take off for the beach. Again, it's wonderful, beautiful. This time you last for five days. On the fifth day you are convinced that something dreadful must have happened. And you go home. You go home, and by golly, it has. The jewel is gone. You are in a state of complete collapse. Total desperation. Depressed. So you go to the neighbors, but they have no idea what has happened. they've been around all the time. Then you sit and consider the matter and you realize that since the jewel is gone, you might as well go back to the beach and enjoy yourself!

That jewel is self. Once it is gone, all the burden of looking after it, all the fears about it, all the barring of doors and windows and heart and mind is no longer necessary. You can just go and enjoy yourself while you're still in this body. After proper investigation, the frightening aspect of losing this thing that seemed so precious turns out to be the only relief and release from worry that there is.

There are three doors to liberation: the signless, the desireless, and emptiness. If we understand impermanence, anicca, fully, it is called the signless liberation. If we understand suffering, dukkha, fully, it is the desireless liberation. If we understand no-self, anatta, fully, then it is the emptiness liberation. Which means we can go through any of these three doors. And to be liberated means never to have to experience an unhappy moment again. It also means something else: it means we are no longer creating kamma. A person who has been completely liberated still acts, still thinks, still speaks and still looks to all intents and purposes like anybody else, but that person has lost the idea that I am thinking, I am speaking, I am acting. Kamma is no longer being made because there is just the thought, just the speech, just the action. There is the experience but no experiencer. And because no kamma is being made any longer, there is no rebirth. That is full enlightenment.

In this tradition, three stages of enlightenment have been classified before one comes to the fourth stage, full enlightenment. The first stage, the one we can concern ourselves with — at least theoretically — is called sotapanna, stream-enterer. It means a person who has seen Nibbana once and has thereby entered the stream. That person cannot be deterred from the Path any more. If the insight is strong, there may be only one more life-time. If the insight is weak, it can be seven more life-times. Having seen Nibbana for oneself once, one loses some of the difficulties one had before. The most drastic hindrance that one loses is the idea that this person we call "I" is a separate entity. The wrong view of self is lost. But that doesn't mean that a sotapanna is constantly aware of no-self. The wrong view is lost. But the right view has to be reinforced again and again and experienced again and again through that reinforcement.

Such a person no longer has any great interest, and certainly no belief, in rites and rituals. They may still be performed because they are traditional or that are customary, but such a person no longer believes they can bring about any kind of liberation (if they ever believed that before). And then a very interesting thing is lost: skeptical doubt. Skeptical doubt is lost because one has seen for oneself that what the Buddha taught was actually so. Until that time skeptical doubt will have to arise again and again because one can easily think: "Well, maybe. Maybe it's so, but how can I be sure?" One can only be sure through one's own experience. Then, of course, there is no skeptical doubt left because one has seen exactly that which has been described, and having seen it, one's own heart and mind gives an understanding which makes it possible to see everything else.

Dhamma must have as its base the understanding that there is no special entity. There is continuity, but there is no special entity. And that continuity is what makes it so difficult for us to see that there really isn't anybody inside the body making things happen. Things are happening anyway. So the first instance of having seen a glimpse of freedom, called stream-entry, makes changes within us. It certainly does not uproot greed and hate — in fact, they are not even mentioned. But through the greater understanding such a person has, the greed and the hate lessen. They are not as strong anymore, and they do not manifest in gross ways, but do remain in subtle ways.

The next stages are the once-returner, then the non-returner, then the arahant. Once-returner, one more life in the five-sense world. Non-returner, no human life necessary, and arahant, fully enlightened. Sensual desire and hate only go with non-returners, and complete conceit of self, only with arahant.

So we can be quite accepting of the fact that since we are not arahants, we still have greed and hate. It isn't a matter of blaming oneself for having them: it's a matter of understanding where these come from. They come from the delusion of me. I want to protect this jewel which is me. That is how they arise. But with the continued practice of meditation, the mind can become clearer and clearer. It finally understands. And when it does understand, it can see transcendental reality. Even if seen for one thought-moment, the experience is of great impact and makes a marked change in our lives.

Saturday, 2 January 2010



We have in all living beings —and so this is something that we all experience— what’s called in Buddhist terminology, a karmic momentum. It’s like a wind inside of us that drives us to always keep moving, always keep doing something, always move away from this underlying restlessness. There’s this kind of underlying restlessness that’s in all beings. It’s called a karmic momentum or a karmic wind. All you have to do is sit still for a little bit and not be busy to connect with that restlessness. It’s very, very easy to connect with it.

We experience it as uneasiness or restlessness or slight anxiety, anxiety building. It’s slight, almost pre-panic panic. When you’re not completely hooked yet, but it’s there. There’s like a pre-thought level of just moving away from that restlessness. We do it with our actions, with our words, with our minds—continually, all the time. Moving away.

I’ll give an example of actions although there’s hundreds of them, you know. Let’s give a meditator’s example. Any of you who have sat for a little while at home, you know that it’s just a common thing that you sit down and you say that you’re going to sit there for fifteen minutes, half an hour, forty-five minutes, an hour or something, and then you keep popping up, popping up. And then you sit down and calm down, and then there’s this agitation —Oh, I forgot to turn off the stove... I need to jot something down. There’s this restlessness that keeps causing you to pop up.

Even if you don’t really pop off the cushion, because maybe someone is sitting with you that day and you’re embarrassed to do so [laughter], or you’re really heavy on yourself so you don’t let yourself do it; nevertheless (I know this very well, so I’d be surprised if you don’t), you keep coming up with reasons to be somewhere else.

Maybe you just keep following the instruction, following the technique, you keep letting those thoughts dissolve into space, and you don’t follow after them. You cut the momentum. But then more pop up. There is this fundamental restlessness. It can be everything from wanting to fill up the space... and when you’re not sitting, this is happening all the time.

Trungpa Rinpoche used to praise boredom in sitting. He said that you have to sit to the point where you’re just bored. You’ve worn out all the entertainment value and you’re just bored. And you have to go through the restlessness of boredom. Because boredom is just another word for this fundamental restlessness--it’s hot, you want to get out of there. And he said you have to sit through with as much loving kindness towards yourself and compassion, relaxation, anything that enables you to kindly and gently and continually stay present. Learning to stay with the boredom. Until, at some point, it shifts to what he called cool boredom, which is that it doesn’t make you want to jump up anymore or fill up the space.

We fill up the space by working, by eating, by addictions of all kinds, by all kinds of activities. And if you don’t believe me, just start paying attention to this tonight when you leave, or even sitting here, or tomorrow during your day, or for every day for the rest of your life. You will notice just a few examples now and then. [Laughter] Then with your speech, it’s the same thing. Yackity, yackity, yack. Filling up the space.

How often have you finally gotten some time in your day to have a little peace of mind (you might say, Well, that never happens, but...), but how often has that happened when it stretched a little longer than was comfortable and you made a phone call? You just, somehow, wanted to not be there with that fundamental restlessness. So you make a phone call. Or, how often are you with somebody and they’re not talking very much, and then you just start talking more and more and more and more and more. Like silence becomes very threatening and awkward, and you begin to feel every hair on your head and you begin to feel where arms are and everything’s itching, suddenly you’re scratching all over, and wiggling and moving.

This is a description of this underlying karmic wind that you’re always wanting to move away from. And the shenpa is very much in there, someplace. There’s not always shenpa involved in this. But the momentum of moving away usually involves shenpa of some kind. You get hooked by something because it represents comfort for you —making the phone call, avoiding the boredom, avoiding the restlessness, avoiding this uneasy, underlying uneasiness.

And then mind. I talked about activities and speech —and I’m just giving very few examples— but also mind. If all else fails and we’re sitting in meditation and we’re going to sit for a long, long time —like, anywhere from three hours to the whole day or maybe we’re doing a week long sitting, or something like this, extended. You go through stages and layers and layers of trying to entertain yourself away from just being there. And it’s all at the level of your mind.

You talk about your physical ailments and you plan and you worry and you obsess and it goes on and on and on, entertaining yourself with your mind. We entertain ourselves with anger, with fear, with grief —All kinds of thoughts are better than nothing— is our motto. The bodhichitta practices, and actually all meditation practices, are about learning to stay still and going through what I always refer to as the detox period of finally connecting. Sometimes it feels like stillness and peace, but if that happens it will also alternate with this restlessness and this unease.

As someone who spends a lot of time in retreat and around a lot of people who spend a lot of time in retreat, I can say everybody gets into this. It often really hooks you, your fear of this and your wishing to go away, and you’re in retreat and there is no entertainment —there are no phones, no computers, there’s no television— you’re not talking to anyone, you’re alone in your cabin, and you wish you weren’t. And where’s all that beauty in nature? You really enjoyed it for one day, maybe even a week, but after a while, it begins to feel like a sensory deprivation chamber, and it’s very, very unnerving.

So the practice is learning to relax into the space of nothing happening. In our lives, this is a big motivation. And shenpa springs, definitely, from this karmic wind which we keep... See, you can begin to unwind that karmic wind, but it’s extremely strong. And I use the term unwind, but what I mean is our habitual way of relating, which is moving away with our actions and our speech and our mind, just makes that uneasiness stronger and stronger and stronger.

This underlying sense of threat when nothing is happening gets stronger and stronger, and we fear it more and more and more. The bodhichitta practices, and actually all practices, are about learning to stay with nothing happening, just with a sense of silence, of space, and definitely with uneasiness, with anxiety, and so forth. And we find our way to do so without it being overwhelming. Then something can begin to shift —which Trungpa Rinpoche referred to as cool boredom. The very same nothing happening feels like home-free, feels like freedom, feels like deep, profound, unshakable relaxation, feels like spaciousness— space in our mind, space to sense of workability of our lives.

But we have habituated ourselves to always move away from that nothing happening, and therefore this fear-based karmic momentum which is always driving you to do something —to move, to act— always in the next moment, never present is very, very strong. We’re really talking about cutting suffering at the root. And the root is that you learn to stay present. And in doing so, you’re going to have to contact the unpleasantness, the short-term unpleasantness, of uneasiness, restlessness, feeling of uneasiness, shakiness. Trungpa Rinpoche used the phrase the genuine heart of sadness.

Learning to stay with the tenderness of that moment. When you feel the hardness of fear, or hardness of anger, or hardness of aversion, realize that that is a place which is a hard covering over the tenderness or the warmth of the bodhichitta, of the bodhi heart. So it’s there in the hardest of places, it’s always there. Learning to stay present —that’s what I said at the end of the talk last week— it’s like being willing to endure the short term pain of an injection in order to be free of the disease altogether. Definitely, we have to go through something.

But, think of it differently, think of it as resting with bodhichitta, or shaky tenderness was another way Trungpa Rinpoche referred to it —it’s a shaky, tender place. He gave it a name which had a kind of heart quality to it, instead of calling it anxiety or fear, he called it shaky tenderness. You see? It helps actually to rephrase these things in your mind in a positive slant on something that doesn’t feel all that good. So, here [in verse twenty-five] we have the phrase that we do not wish our own true good, which is to say we’re stuck in habituation.

We think happiness is going to come from always leaving that place, that tender, shaky place that we call boredom or fear or anxiety, or whatever we call it, and filling up the space with entertainment, with fun, with movement, with action. And maybe it’s not even fun, but at least at least it fills up the space with worrying, with churning ourselves up, working ourselves up with anger, and so forth.

If we work with our shenpa, we are working with cutting the momentum of this habituation, which is to say, cutting the momentum of karma, cutting the momentum of samsara— to use the Buddhist terms.

Verse twenty-six says more about this. And it’s interesting that in verse twenty-five, the bodhichitta is called the state of mind; and in verse twenty-six it’s called an attitude— a jewel of mind. This is really important. We’re talking about training our minds. And in Buddhism, the mind and heart are one thing. Training the mind, training the heart to connect with openness and spaciousness with warmth and love and compassion by doing exercises, like bodhichitta practices such as we did at the beginning of the class, learning to stay present with that shaky tenderness and connect with the bodhichitta. Do you see? Learning to stay present.

It’s highly praised here and says that you can’t really ever express that something which is such a fresh alternative to how we usually do it. This is what we’re talking about: bodhichitta is a fresh alternative. It’s like a fresh take, a fresh state of mind from the habituated, stale, always do it the same way take and conditioned reflex action —knee jerk action. Always looking for any way to fill up the space, move away from nothing happening.

The basic instruction, in terms of cutting this habituation, or dissolving it, or interrupting —I like to use the word interrupting the habituation— is to notice the shenpa, notice when you’re hooked; then through meditation practice, or whatever helps, to interrupt the momentum so that you don’t go on and on and on creating your own suffering; and then touch the soft spot that’s available to you when you interrupt the momentum of the shenpa

Friday, 1 January 2010

Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions

Spiritually Literate New Year's Resolutions

1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.

2. I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.

3. I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.

4. I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the "other" is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.

5. I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.

6. I will add to the planet's fund of good will by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy.

7. I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.

8. I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.

9. I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.

10. I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.

The Basic Practice
Spiritual Practices: Being Present

Living in past or future
Being Present

The Basic Practice

Being present in the spiritual life always has a double meaning. There's present, as in here, in attendance. And there's present, as in now, a moment of time. What is the spiritual practice of being present? Being here now.

The world's religions all recommend living in the moment with full awareness. Zen Buddhism especially is known for its emphasis on "nowness." Hindu, Taoist, Jewish, Moslem, Christian, and other teachers urge us to make the most of every day as an opportunity that will not come to us again.

Also under the rubric of being present is the traditional spiritual exercise called practicing the presence of God. This means recognizing that God is here now moving through our everyday activities, no matter how trivial they might seem

Why This Practice May Be For You

The contrasts to being present are living in the past and living in the future. We do the former when we hold on to regrets. We constantly review things that have already happened, trying to explain them in terms of our own or someone else's actions. Often this kind of thinking leads to guilt or blaming.

We live in the future when we make assumptions or fantasize about what could happen and then become attached to those expected outcomes. This habit usually results in disappointment. Whether we are consumed with positive expectations (optimism) or negative projections (pessimism), we are not living in the moment.

When you find yourself constantly reacting to your experiences in one of these ways, when you always want to be otherwise and elsewhere, it is time to be present. The companion of this practice is contentment.