Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Emptiness Talk 3

If emptiness is not a lack of something needed, then is it a lack of balance in one's life? For all life consists of a multitude of feelings, including joy and pain; therefore, if there is not balance between the two, is their a vacuum needing filled? Is not having balance having strength??

Life is naturally balanced between birth and death. Many bits and many pieces continue to come together and fall apart to make up what we believe to be ourselves. If you really attempt to find what you call "me", can you ever actually find it?

Examine this with everything you encounter. Can we find anything that stands alone and never changes or alters itself in anyway? Even seemingly ever present fixtures in our life, such as the sun, are really the most dynamic of systems. Our bodies are the same. We take in, we defecate, we grow, we wither.

This emptiness is not a lack of something; it is everything and everyone. It's what makes up all matter and all life. Vacuum or filled space are both examples of emptiness. It's our mistaken view that what we see and what we touch is the way we perceive it to be. All these feelings we feel, these thoughts we have, ebb and flow throughout existence.

When we continuously try to focus on this solid identity we feel we have, we suffer and experience pain because it is not reality. Letting go of me and embracing the reality of our own emptiness is an amazing process. If you can find you, work with that. If you cannot, work with that.

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Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Accountability Concern

In order to maintain personal accountability, too often we surround ourselves with people who we blame when our house falls apart and when events do not go our way. We do not want to take responsibility for what happens to us, so we make certain someone is always there to blame.

Blame can be very subtle. When the offender is someone we don't really know or some nefarious "they" that's out there pulling our strings and mashing our buttons, we've accepted the situation as out of our control to change. This seems a misfortunate perspective with little room for relief or resolution.

Another accountability concern happens in our careers and our jobs. Too often it seems management will surround themselves with people who are "yes" people, people who will not challenge their view intellectually or substantially. Most in management seem to not want to think or rethink what they're doing at all. We can see examples of this throughout government, throughout institutions and throughout the business world.

Oftentimes, we have very unfortunate ideas that are mistaken and based upon ignorant views of reality. If we only allow people who agree with our view in our management team and in our support team, we assist ourselves in our own downfall. Our mistaken perceptions and actions riddle our lives and our goals with damages and consequences.

People make decisions every moment that affect so many people; all of us do. Our lives are deeply connected, and where one suffers needlessly, we all suffer needlessly. When we don't see our decisions as affecting more than right now and more than just ourself, we've lost touch with our personal power, yet wield that power so carelessly and callously.

A large sector of our human society is in this destructive potential zone. We can see the consequences all around us and the consequences have been felt for years. From the BP Gulf Oil Spill to the Alberta Oil Spill; from the Hurricane Katrina Disaster to the unfinished recovery of the Gulf Coast; from the multiple mining catastrophes to the numerous crane collapses; from the state of our public schools to the malicious state of our politics; from the Wall Street crisis to the faltering economy.

Despite the growing list of crises and our man-made disasters, I see enormous human potential wherever I look. We can truly recover from anything, and our species can adapt to any environment.

We can make different decisions as an individual and provide a working example of another way to approach our days and our problems. When wronged by another, we cannot continue the wrong/right cycle and instead thank another for the opportunity to break that cycle within ourselves.

It is far too easy to "right" the wrongs done to us by others. It's much easier to "right" the wrongs we've done to ourself. Usually in "righting" the wrong we do wrong. How is that ever the "right" thing to do? Who is ever going to stop this vicious cycle if we don't stop it within our own life first?

If we continue holding others accountable for our failures and our mistaken judgements, we are losing focus on what good we can do this day. Regardless of what happens to us, we are the ultimate person accountable to how we respond to our life. Our response is much more powerful than what just became our past.

Watch how you respond to your day and your life.
Wonder how that response affects yourself and others.
Witness your transformation.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Power of Being Silent

While in the woods, I once again took a vow of silence for a time. Every vow of silence has been its own set of experiences and lessons about the self and others. This year's silence was primarily centered on how the mind operates and how, with intention and focus, we can affect change in our own mind.

Hours into the time of silence, we began to see our body-mind connection strengthen. As we moved down these woodland paths, we saw our body automatically alter movement, even mid-stride, to avoid harming ourselves. There was a sense of intuition; a direct connection between observations and action.

Having thoughts, turning those thoughts into words and sentences and then verbalizing them properly with speech requires a great deal of mental resources. If we shut off the mouth valve, to some degree mental resources become freed up. Those additional resources then can be used in different mental activities.

This is similar to how the brain reacts to losing one of our senses. It adapts by intensifying the other senses and redirecting those mental resources, even those same mental pathways, for use in other ways. The same principle is applicable with vows of silence.

In our modern day life, it can be difficult to take vows of silence. Mostly, even while we're attempting to listen to what someone is saying, we're already writing the response to what they haven't finished saying. If anything, maybe we can vow to keep our internal writing and responding to a minimum when talking with another.

Try to focus the mind on only what the person is saying and not how it's wrong, or how it's right or what we would say in response. This is not at all easy or simple, but it is worthwhile to see how we listen and how we don't listen at all. With patience and perseverance, we can limit thinking when we should be listening.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Emptiness Talk 2

Emptiness can be the result of not being challenged to the capacity you are capable. ..or not feeling satisfaction in your job, career, friendships. Are expectations too high or too low?? To change outcome of emptiness feelings, one must fill vacuum with other feelings which are stronger; such as, contentment, gratitude, strength, and inner peace.

This is not the emptiness that is at the heart of everything we are and everything we experience. It is my lack of ability that I'm bungling this talk of emptiness. Afterall, I'm attempting to describe something that is not capable of being accurately detailed by words and thoughts. Emptiness is something inherent in everything. The same emptiness that exists within a rock is present within myself.

Human beings attach all sorts of labels to cover up our inherent nature. Our inherent nature is not one of permanence. It is not something you can actually single out by itself apart from anything or everything else.

If we are our jobs, our careers, what happens to all the millions of people that have lost their job or their career during the Great Recession? What happens to all those unemployed and unable to find work? Are they any different than they were before the job loss?

If we are our families and relationships, what happens when family members die, friends perish or loved ones move away? Are we then not ourselves when we're alone or when we're the last survivor of a family?

Look at yourself. What is this thing called me? If it's in my hands, those can be cut away from my body. Am I a wholly different person because I lost a limb or lost use of a limb? People have organs removed or replaced with other people's organs. Are they now less human or more than one human being?

Are we the way we feel about our life or are we somehow beyond that? The way we feel fluctuates wildly within every moment for some. How can that be a basis for finding what constitutes this thing I call me?

Lets get out of this human terrain, and look at the universe as a whole. Many stars die or are born all the time. Is the universe any less the whole than it ever was? Planets crumble and come together. Is there any more mass or less mass in the universe?

The vacuum you are talking about is the concept of emptiness. It is at the heart of you and me and at the heart of our existence. As human beings, we want to hold onto this idea of what me is. Our ignorance about our real nature is the primary source of all our suffering.

This concept of emptiness is very challenging to discuss, but it's a worthwhile discussion to have. Please challenge it. Question it. I want to be challenged and I need to be questioned, especially about this. Keep the comments coming. It is only through direct experience that we will ever know emptiness.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Emptiness Talk

Mostly, what we see is only what we think we see, and what we think we see is not reality. If you breakdown what you think you see and try to find what you thought you saw, you won't find that object there at all. What we see is an illusion. This is the concept of emptiness as I loosely understand it.

If you try and point to what and where you are, can you do it? Say you cut off your arm, are you still you? Say you go blind, are you still you?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Approaching Life

We may not have known how to approach situations in the past.
We may not know how to approach situations now.
We may never know how to approach any situation with any effectiveness.

Approach what is difficult, always.
Approach with an open mind, always.
Approach as if we have no clue, always.

Approach, Approach, Approach

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Drop Reason, Trust Effort

All of what we experience is but a moment. All moments come from and lead to other moments. All that you see is in this same state of being as you, coming together and falling apart.

Your mind has all the experience and memory, sometimes stored in active memory but mostly stored in subconcious memory. When we begin to relax into direct experience, we must trust our effort. The active mind automatically involves everything you've done, you've thought and you've felt.

Trust your effort and stop trying to reason your way out of what's happening and what's already taken place. Instead, work with right now. Right now is a rich, changing environment. If we stay rigid and try to hold our ground, we'll lose it. If we remain adaptive, we will figure our way through, even if we make some misteps. This moment, after all, was falling apart when it began.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Adversity: The Hallmark of Human Life

Adversity is the hallmark of a good life.

When situations don't follow your predictions, we can become upset with the outcomes or we can work with the outcomes. Any emotion that we feel about what is happening to us is a powerful energy. When we realize our role in what's happening, we can begin to take care of that energy, and redirect it towards the reality rather than our fairy tale that didn't happen to follow the script we developed in our heads.

Mostly, we would like to absolve ourselves of any responsibility when things go awry. "It cannot possibly be myself that has created this present moment, this terrible moment." Some people feel terrible about the terrible experiences we endure. If feeling terrible about it works to correct the situation, then by every means feel terrible about it all the time. If feeling awful about our life is worthwhile, than it should be worthwhile all the time, right? If that does not seem to solve our present day dilemma, we could consider another option.

Focusing on what works involves believing in the experience of what we're doing in our momentary life. Attempt many different avenues at overcoming daily obstacles. Believe in what you're doing. The outcomes will speak towards the intention and action we've applied. If we really believe that feeling terrible works for a better today, then believe that and make that terrible feeling your daily experience.

What we do with what happens to us is all about belief and faith. Faith that we can see ourselves through whatever may come. Our belief is to continue to apply ourselves to what's happening and that at some point we will stumble onto relief. Either, the frustration will end artificially or it will end by our own hand.

It really does not matter which way we live our lives; the outcome is always the same. Then, the real long-term strategy is about how we experience our daily life. If at the end it's death, than damn well I should be believing in what I'm doing today; that what I do today is as good as I can muster; that we will strive for excellence and expect nothing in return.

Keep at it and have a direct experience with your life. Let the outcomes wash over you and assist in matching our intention with our action. Enjoy this.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Navigating the Foreign Lands of Your Self

Often, people wish to rid themselves of what they deem to be negative, bad or destructive emotions (i.e.loneliness, anger, sadness, loss). People wish that they could just deposit these states of mind somewhere far away and never deal with them again. It's not possible to do this. Even if you're drugged, drunk or just numb, those emotional states are underneath it all.

Being a member of human society, these more intense emotions are not something we have much knowledge or experience with resolving. We're taught at a very young age that to feel and to be affected is a sign of weakness. We treat these emotional states as if they're the enemy and must be locked away for safe keeping. When we do that, we're locking ourselves away.

When I look at what's happening wherever I go, I don't think that this social strategy is working out too well for many if any people. The divide between us has never been so wide. Some people don't even see other people as human beings anymore. Look at the faces of strangers and consider what they could be feeling right now. It's a worthwhile exercise. Behind every one of those faces is a human being, just like you.

With this awareness, we must conjure up patience with ourselves. Patience is critical as we begin to work with these volatile energies. We must remember that what we're attempting to do is something that we've not been doing for a long time, and potentially have never done throughout our entire life.

There's no step-by-step instructions either. The key is to be curious about the emotional process and to keep at it. We're learning how to navigate the foreign lands of our mind and ourselves. Astounding how the more foreign our own mind and our own self has been for us, the more foreign everyone around us has seemed. Once we begin to get in touch with our whole existence, it's a natural progression to how this will improve everyone we interact with everyday.

When we delve into these darker emotions, if we continue to consider these emotions as so terrible and so awful, we're not going to make much progress. There's a reason why we feel the way we feel. Sometimes, there's real reason to be concerned. Your mind is telling you something for a reason and it's using these emotions to tell you. Maybe, we should pay attention and begin to take care of the entire me.

Through the exploration of our feelings, we will discover our greater role in what's happening to us. Mostly, it will be our fingerprints all over whatever it is making us miserable. Then, there's some relief you can experience. If we're the one behind our own misery, then we can make changes and see if we can create a different outcome. Imagine the enjoyment in trying to figure out this life instead of wrestling with it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Discerning in the Dark

Considering that all that we see and experience is really an illusion, perhaps coming at every moment as if we're truly in the dark doesn't sound like a truly terrible idea.

How would our decisions be altered if we didn't think we knew everything or didn't believe we could see and control all the variables?

It is our assumptions that gets us into so much trouble. The variables we take for granted, all of that is impermanent. All of it will change, and sometimes drastically. Finding ways to limit or curtail how our assumptions affect our decision-making process seems a laudable exercise.

Discerning in the dark says we know we don't know everything, that we don't know much, and that we barely know enough to still be alive. We are not saying to be overly cautious or not cautious at all. We are not saying to just jump into the abyss or tiptoe through the meadow.

What we are suggesting is to treat every situation as it's own special entity. Our yesterday experiences can yield an enormous treasure of assistance in making better of situations we find ourselves in today. However, it is a different playing field, different players, different rules, even a different game altogether.

Acknowledge the wealth of past experiences have given to you, but also acknowledge new times require new solutions. Using the same criteria as you did a decade ago is probably not going to yield the same or even similiar sets of results. In fact, we may have not been aware enough to realize the true size and proportion of the crop of results from our last similar encounter.

Question your historical perspectives, challenge your current views, and apply your solutions.

The Waiting for Perfect Conditions and Perfect People Dilemma

We hear it all the time, reasons to not make something of this life of ours.

Must wait for life to calm down, for this bill to be paid, for my body to heal completely. We must wait to feel good, feel secure, feel desired, feel complete. The sun must be out, it cannot be too hot, and for sure it can't be humid. Shouldn't be too cold, either, nor windy, nor gloomy. "I must be in top physical and emotional condition."

Just if, then.

We have to have the perfect people to help our efforts perfectly. Perfect people who will easily accept what we're offering, what we're saying or above all what we're doing. "There's no one to listen, to receive. No one wants what I have to offer."

Just if, then.

So, we just continue to live the same, grinding existence, waiting for the perfect time and the perfect people. Will we ever do anything of consequence at anytime for anyone?

As long as we wait for perfection, we're ignoring the perfection of our present. You are the perfect person for the perfect time of right now. We need to believe in ourselves, work with what we have and do something, anything, right this moment, not just for ourselves but for others.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Just Like Me

I realize some people are inarticulate, unartful and unaware. I have been and continue to be so. I have let my expectations of anyone not being that way get in the way of what I should be doing. My attachment to wanting to give back in some little way and have that gift received with recognition has also failed to produce any benefit for anyone.

Any less than I feel right now or at anytime is of my own creation. And, we don't feel less than, we feel as if others view us that way. Once again, our issue of requiring anyone to acknowledge us, recognize us, validate us.

Us. Them. There is no duality. We must keep this in mind. They are me. They are doing what I have and what I still could do. They are bits of coming together and falling apart. Just like me.

Every Day is the Same Day

As the sun rises on this, my last morning, I feel renewed optimism of what I can do for others, how I can manage my issues to make that effort increasingly effective and more efficient.

Everyday is the same day, but every day can be a new effort, a new goal, a new belief. We just have to apply this effort joyously, reach for a goal effortlessly and believe that we can make this life work for the benefit of all.

Bless you, Bless this land, Bless this community.
From every sunrise, through every sunset and into the night.

The Suffering Pebbles of our Life

Suffering is momentary. Self and others are the same, parts of the whole of the universe. Suffering is our failed attempt at taking ourselves out of that whole and standing alone.

We all wish to use the universe as a pretty backdrop for our lives, that somehow we're the lead character and the world or the universe is our elaborate stage. It is just as a stage play, our lives. At the end, the stage is still here; it may be reused as is, tore down, shut down, burnt down or even turned into a strip mall.

It is our separateness that is the issue, that the pebble in our shoe is somehow different and outside of ourselves. That's how we view people when we see them as against us rather than for us. It's as if they are the pebble in our shoe instead of that cushy insole we love so much.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Touching on the Basic Goodness of Your Life

When we're doing something we enjoy or see something beautiful, we feel good inside. What we're feeling in those moments is our own goodness. It's that basic goodness that connects everything in the universe that we're resonating with in those good feeling moments. For some reason we find it easier to see that basic goodness in settings, activities or even other people then we do to see that within ourselves everyday of our life.

For instance, you walk through a nature park. You see the sun, the clouds the beautiful blue sky; you see the waving trees, as if they're waving to you, the flowing grasses too. You think, this is what makes me feel good. That goodness was already inside of you, but the goodness of a natural setting is too obvious to not take note and treasure. We should also treasure the basic goodness that is at the core of our human experience in anyway we can. If that means taking a walk in the woods, then that's what we need to do.

Stacking our day with these moments of basic goodness can provide us with a wealth that is always replenishable and is beyond any object, place or person. Objects are lost, places can be bulldozed or burnt, people die and perish. If we see that our good feeling is attached to what brings it out of us, when something happens to that object, place or person we'll suffer immensely. Yet, the basic goodness of our existence remains.

As long as we continue to see how we feel as being directed by external forces, we'll always be dependent on conditions going our way. If feelings truly originate from outside of us, what can we ever do to make our lives better? Will we be like a flag on a pole whipping in whatever way the winds blows, never going anywhere?

Be curious about your feelings, explore them thoroughly, thoughtfully and continuously. If we begin to be curious about where these feelings originate, you'll find your own truth about it.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Your Role in Your State of Mind

Our state of mind is dependent on how we approach each moment and less about what's happening to us and around us. There are many states of mind within all of us. Through exploring and utilizing honest analysis of our current thoughts and feelings, we can begin to see which states of mind are helpful in certain situations and which are not so helpful.

Even anger has a positive role at various points. This is not a witch hunt; we cannot burn our feelings at the stake to get rid of them; feelings always resurface unexpectedly if we haven't thoroughly taken care.

All of our feelings are vital to our existence as human beings; these feelings help us figure out this world. This is why we are very reactive to our environment. Maybe, this is why people resist their environment so forcefully, believing that somehow it's the heat that makes them angry. Just like our feelings, the environment changes. If we look at the weather in this way, it doesn't seem so terrible that it's hot today, as it could be wet tomorrow or next week it'll be cold.

Looking at the continuity of our experience can help take care of our feelings. As long as we look at our life and our environment as an ever-changing, dynamic system, life becomes more workable.

Many have said that this person makes them angry; this person puts a smile on their face; this situation makes me cry; this joke makes me laugh. Certainly, our external world can bring these natural sensations out of us, but they do not create any of these feelings on their own. Anger is always inside, as is happiness. We do have the superior role in which way we come at any situation.

Above all, the mind is very wild and patience is key in navigating it in uncertain terrain. We all lose it. When we lose it, if we are honest with ourselves, we'll realize that whatever it is we're feeling has been with us for a long time. It is not easy to do this in the heat of the moment. The more we attempt to get a gap in there of thinking or even breating, the more chance we have to let the anger disipate and find the real source within us. The more we come at life with a happy state of mind, the easier the worst of situations will be. It's ok to not agree.

Which sounds more workable, sickness with happiness or sickness with anger? Whatever is helpful, do it.