Archive for March, 2009


Gaining Dignity, Letting Go of Desperation

theater-maskThe face of impermanence is constantly showing itself.  Why do we struggle to hide it?  Why do we feed the circle of suffering by perpetuating the myth of permanence?  Experiences, friends, relationships, possessions, knowledge – we work so hard to convince ourselves that they will last.  When a cup breaks or we forget something, or somebody dies or the seasons change, we’re surprised.  We can’t believe it’s over.

… Permanence would be awkward.  There would be no beginning and no end . . .   Everything would last forever.  There’d be no seasons.  We’d never be born, grow up, fall in love, have children, grow old or die . . .

No matter how we want to cling to our loved ones, by nature every relationship is a meeting and a parting.  This doesn’t mean we have less love.  It means we have less fixation, less pain. . . we can relax into the ebb and flow of life.

We don’t have to keep imitating an idea of permanent happiness.

Understanding the meaning of impermanence  makes us less desperate people.  It gives us dignity. . .

~ SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, Turning the Mind into an Ally

For me this dignity is essential in cultivating a heart of compassion (and Sakyong points to this also).  If my heart is full of fixation there is no room for anything else to exist.   It’s as if this letting go is a first step in taking the focus off of merely myself and opening up to something larger than myself.

I find that embracing the nature of impermanence in the seasons, in financial areas, and relationships to be easier these days.  The impermanence in knowledge is becoming more evident in this information age as “things” we thought to be true are quickly outdated and replaced by new information – it’s funny,  I still hold certain knowledge to be more permanent – I grasp this tighter; I hold on with a closed fist – especially when I do not see the difference between knowledge and my opinion or I try to make a certain knowledge “fixed” rather than unfolding (which happens when I am caught up in my blue or orange development – see Spiral Dynamics).

I hope to cultivate a bit more dignity in this area.


A contemplation on the rarity of human life

sea-turtle1Without commentary by me, more wisdom from  Sakyong Mipham from Turning the Mind into an Ally :
“If we think of how many other beings are born here on Earth, it’s amazing that we’re born human.
A traditional Buddhist teaching on the difficulty of obtaining human birth uses the image of a blind tortoise swimming in the ocean that’s as big as the Earth, with an ox’s yoke tossing on the surface. Once every five hundred years the turtle swims up to the surface. The chances of obtaining human birth are said to be as small as the chances of that turtle emerging with its head in the yoke.
. . . we’ve been born in a time and place where we have the luxury of
and putting into action
teachings that awaken us to our enlightened mind”

May you be free from pain,


12,000 Thoughts


The average person has 12,000 thoughts per day – most of them a recurring handful of unwelcome distractions (source “Still the Mind” –  Bodhipaksa)

I’ve been listening to a download by  SAKYONG MIPHAM RINPOCHE, the author of  “Turning The Mind Into An Ally” and I am enjoying listening to his teaching as it slowly sinks in to my being (it’s been  a lighter look at his elementary teachings). 
The basic gist is about how we do not have to be at odds with unpleasant or unconscious thoughts as they arise – rather it’s about how to have a better relationship with the distracting or unpleasant mind – the same way we have to work through our relationships with others we love, when they are being unpleasant.  Now this is not about dealing with the Shadow, it’s more about the constant way our mind can go on and on and on – the Monkey Chatter.  I felt his “basic” ideas were worth posting and that some of my blog readers would enjoy his teaching.  I find it has been valuable for me; it’s a simple wisdom that has changed my relationship with myself. Here are some of my  paraphrased words from Sakyong’s introductory interview:

Peaceful Abiding is a basic meditation, for harmony within ourselves – with our mind.  Not at odds with our mind, rather with mind as an ally.  For instance, we never know how we are going to wake up (angry, happy, frustrated etc.) and this is the person we are going to have to deal with the rest of the day.  This is who we are in relationship with for that day.  What kind of relationship will we have with this mind/emotion?  If we are not in relationship with our mind – life becomes very difficult.

As a people we generally like to be in control, this is our human condition.  We like thinking we are in control of our thoughts.  As if  it were natural to think certain thoughts only when we want to. 
However, as we sit down to eat we can all of a sudden begin to think about a bill, needing to fix our car, problems at work, how our friend acted like such a bitch, etc. If we were in control, we would say (and be), “So I am sitting down to eat, I will be present with eating and think about the bills, the car, work, my friend, when I want/choose  to think about the bills or the car or work or my bitch friend”. 
Let’s face it – it doesn’t work that way. We don’t have that kind of control.  So we have to be in relationship with our mind.  Is it our enemy or is it our ally?

In Sakyong’s teaching, it is about making the mind pliable, making it flexible.  A hardened and inflexible mind has no room for compassion; it is jealous, angry, holding . . .  What we are in need of,  is a softening.

In allowing distracting thoughts to arise and pass (and there are various ways to do this), in allowing these to be impermanent, we see that the nature of mind at its core – is peaceful abiding, clear, knowing and powerful.  It is our ally. It is part of our true nature.  And this is one of the values in meditating – peaceful abiding.  It’s not some mystical state, it’s our natural state.

It takes courage to be compassionate (even with the self) when you’re consumed with a thought/emotion.  To make peace with one’s mind takes strength and courage and understanding.  It is much easier to give in, than to be brave enough to remain open to change or possibility (especially if we are angry or anxious). Yet this is the possibility that exists in all of us.


Forming an Alliance

Still re-reading  “Turning The Mind Into An Ally” by Sakyong Mipham.  I am so touched by his words.  There is a strength in the concept of creating an alliance, especially when I am in need of softening.  Frustration and Anxiety often appear as though they are in opposition to my mind (which usually leads to restless nights) and then I become hard and inflexible, which does not leave room to foster compassion or love. If I do not form an alliance with my mind, how can I form an alliance with the world around me?  To most of you reading this – this is nothing new,  I just appreciate his wording:

“. . . through peaceful abiding, we can create an alliance that allows us to actually use our mind, rather than be used by it.  This is a practice anyone can do. Although it has its roots in Buddhism, it is a complement to any spiritual tradition.

If we want to undo our bewilderment and suffering and be of benefit to others and the planet, we’re going to have to be responsible for learning what our mind is and how it works, no matter what beliefs we hold. Once we see how our mind works, we see how our life works too. That changes us.

… the more we understand about ourselves and how the mind works, the more the mind can work “


Come out, come out wherever you are

During the small time it took to post this, I was paying attention to typing, thinking about what I was going to have for breakfast, what I was going to wear to work, and if one of my coworkers was going to make trouble for my staff:

Ahhh my untamed mind.

Here is a quote from Sakyong Mipham who wrote one of my favorite books, “Turning the Mind into an Ally“:

“In looking for my mind, I discovered that it seems to be in many different places. Sometimes it is drinking a glass of water, remembering swimming in the summer, feeling the breeze. In this contemplation I observed that the self is more elusive than I thought.”



get over it already


There is a quote I came across from Mark Epstein, while I was scanning over his book “Thoughts Without A Thinker” again (btw – I recommend any of his books).
For me,  this thought is not only central to any type of spiritual practice or discipline, it is also central to achieving psychological health.  While psychology is a fairy new discipline and Buddhism is over 2,000 years old – isn’t it funny how relevant this idea of over-identification is to the human experience and how certain schools of thought keep bringing it up?
I can’t even begin to blog how often I over-identify with my thoughts or feelings (let alone how easy it is for me to see it in other people before I notice it in myself). Or how I try to find some damn “meaning” in a feeling or thought so I can make sense of it or understand it.
(this is truly the dilemma for anyone suffering from a  Bipolar disorder or the general narcissism found in society – it’s what marketing firms and advertisers count on yeah?)

It’s just a feeling.
It’s just a thought.
They arise and they pass . . .
Why do we try to so hard make them permanent and concrete?
Why is it so difficult to just observe them?
(Again, this is why I practice sitting.  Or at least one of many reasons I practice)

Enjoy Mark’s perspective on this:

“Because of our craving, the Buddha is saying, we want things to be understandable.

We reduce, concretize, or substantialize experiences or feelings, which are, in their very nature, fleeting or evanescent. In so doing, we define ourselves by our moods and by our thoughts.

We do not just let ourselves be happy or sad, for instance; we must become a happy person or a sad one.

This is the chronic tendency of the ignorant or deluded mind, to make ‘things’ out of that which is no thing.

Seeing craving shatters this predisposition; it becomes preposterous to try to see substance where there is none.”


Let your mind become like a fog at sunset


Divinity has one ultimate secret, which it will also whisper in your ear if your mind becomes quieter than the fog at sunset: the God of this world is found within, and you know it is found within: in those hushed silent times when the mind becomes still, the body relaxes into infinity, the senses expand to become one with the world-

in those glistening times, a subtle luminosity, a serene radiance, a brilliantly transparent clarity shimmers as the true nature of all manifestation, erupting every now and then in a compassionate Radiance before whom all idols retreat,

a love so fierce it adoringly embraces both light and dark, both good and evil, both pleasure and pain equally….

~ Ken Wilber
Source: “Simple Feeling of Being”

(and this is one reason why when I do not sit regularly in meditation, life is not the same.  And when I do sit,  life is not the same – John)

Live'n Aloha on Maui.
Lately just posting pics, artwork, vids, & music with just a headline (less seems to be more).
Into Wilber, Beck, Zen Stuffs, Spiritual Concepts, Philosophy and Humor (kinda geeky humor).
Currently attempting to strengthen my meditation skills (this has been a 20 yr process).
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March 2009
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