Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not So Simple

Sometimes so simple
Other times so god damn hard
Frog jumps in dry pond

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Japanese TV Commercials

I found these two Japanese commercials, here, apparently, aired on Thai TV, hilarious. They are advertising for Oishi-brand green tea.

The first is completely self explanatory, but should not be tried at home, or at least not without supervision. As the disclaimer says near the end, it may not work for everyone.

In the second one, two girls walk up to a bunch of kids drinking water from a river and ask if it might not be better to drink the water further upstream. The bully of the group grumbles that it doesn't matter, it's all the same everywhere they drink. The girls proceed to walk upstream past two old men bathing in the water, and then one of the men wonders to himself, now where did they get to? as he looks around for something.

Now i'm no marketing expert, but i have a feeling that these might not have made it on US TV.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Timeless Silence

Some call it Silence
Others call it Timelessness
Not here and not now

Chained To Tradition

Couldn't have said it any better, so here it is, straight from

Neal Rogers Opinion: It’s wrong to vilify Alberto Contador

I love this year's tour, but my head and heart are split right down the middle. I pray that Contador wins, not because i really like the guy (he's not as bad as Armstrong supporters maliciously make him out to be), but because i so desperately want someone to beat Armstrong's record seven wins and Alberto is a man who could possibly, conceivably, maybe do it. I don't want that just because i don't like Armstrong (disclosure: i admire him as an athlete, not as a person, and suspect he doped), but because people are so adamant in saying that no one will ever beat Armstrong's record. Throw down a challenge like that and i'm in line to support anyone who can possibly, conceivably, maybe do it. And if Contador manages to pull it off, i'll be in the next line supporting the next challenger.

Then on the other hand, i would love to see Schleck win the tour. He seems like such a nice guy. He seems not to be a drug cheat (although i admit you can't tell something like that by reading media reports and watching videos of the Tour), seems to be incredibly personable and gets along with everyone, and obviously loves racing a bike. If pro bike racing was composed of guys like him, there is a good future for the sport. If he wears the yellow in Paris, the Tour will be well represented.

Contador? Schleck? Contador? Schleck? .... My head says Contador, but my heart says it doesn't matter as long as the race continues to be as exciting as it has been so far. Go Thor! Go Andy! Go Alberto! Man, you have to love this race.....

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nothing Matters

More thought provoking words from Carlos Castaneda.

"Please tell me, don Juan, what exactly is controlled folly?"

Don Juan laughed loudly and made a smacking sound by slapping his thigh with the hollow of his hand. "This is controlled folly!" he said, and laughed and slapped his thigh again.

"What do you mean ... ?"

"I am happy that you finally asked me about my controlled folly after so many years, and yet it wouldn't have mattered to me in the least if you had never asked. Yet I have chosen to feel happy, as if I cared, that you asked, as if it would matter that I care. That is controlled folly!"

We both laughed very loudly. I hugged him. I found his explanation delightful although I did not quite understand it. We were sitting, as usual, in the area right in front of the door of his house. It was mid-morning. Don Juan had a pile of seeds in front of him and was picking the debris from them. I had offered to help him but he had turned me down; he said the seeds were a gift for one of his friends in central Mexico and I did not have enough power to touch them.

"With whom do you exercise controlled folly, don Juan?" I asked after a long silence.

He chuckled. "With everybody!" he exclaimed, smiling.

"When do you choose to exercise it, then?"

"Every single time I act."


"But it can't be true," I protested, "that every one of your acts is only controlled folly."

"Why not?" he replied with a mysterious look.

"That would mean that nothing matters to you and you don't really care about anything or anybody." ...

"True! I don't. You are like Lucio, or everybody else in my life, my controlled folly."


"I have the feeling we are not talking about the same thing," I said. ... "What I meant to say was that there must be something in the world you care about in a way that is not controlled folly. I don't think it is possible to go on living if nothing really matters to us."

"That applies to you" he said. "Things matter to you. You asked me about my controlled folly and I told you that everything I do in regard to myself and my fellow men is folly, because nothing matters."

"My point is, don Juan, that if nothing matters to you, how can you go on living?"


"Perhaps it's not possible to explain," he said. "Certain things in your life matter to you because they're important; your acts are certainly important to you, but for me, not a single thing is important any longer, neither my acts nor the acts of any of my fellow men. I go on living, though, because I have my will. Because I have tempered my will throughout my life until it's neat and wholesome and now it doesn't matter to me that nothing matters. My will controls the folly of my life."

... After a long pause I thought of a good point. I told him that in my opinion some of the acts of my fellow men were of supreme importance. I pointed out that a nuclear war was definitely the most dramatic example of such an act. I said that for me destroying life on the face of the earth was an act of staggering enormity.

"You believe that because you're thinking. You're thinking about life," don Juan said with a glint in his eyes. "You're not seeing."

"Would I feel differently if I could see?" I asked.

"Once a man learns to see he finds himself alone in the world with nothing but folly," don Juan said cryptically. He paused for a moment and looked at me as if he wanted to judge the effect of his words. "Your acts, as well as the acts of your fellow men in general, appear to be important to you because you have learned to think they are important."

He used the word "learned" with such a peculiar inflection that it forced me to ask what he meant by it.

He stopped handling his plants and looked at me. "We learn to think about everything," he said, "and then we train our eyes to look as we think about the things we look at. We look at ourselves already thinking that we are important. And therefore we've got to feel important! But then when a man learns to see, he realizes that he can no longer think about the things he looks at, and if he cannot think about what he looks at everything becomes unimportant."


I asked him if he was in a mood to answer some questions.

"What do you want to know?" he replied.

"What you told me this afternoon about controlled folly has disturbed me very much," I said. "I really cannot understand what you meant."

"Of course you cannot understand it," he said. "You are trying to think about it, and what I said does not fit with your thoughts."

"I'm trying to think about it," I said, "because that's the only way I personally can understand anything. For example, don Juan, do you mean that once a man learns to see, everything in the whole world is worthless?"

"I didn't say worthless. I said unimportant. Everything is equal and therefore unimportant. For example, there is no way for me to say that my acts are more important than yours, or that one thing is more essential than another, therefore all things are equal and by being equal they are unimportant."

I asked him if his statements were a pronouncement that what he had called "seeing" was in effect a "better way" than merely "looking at things." He said that the eyes of man could perform both functions, but neither of them was better than the other; however, to train the eyes only to look was, in his opinion, an unnecessary loss.

"For instance, we need to look with our eyes to laugh," he said, "because only when we look at things can we catch the funny edge of the world. On the other hand, when our eyes see, everything is so equal that nothing is funny."

"Do you mean, don Juan, that a man who sees cannot ever laugh?"

He remained silent for some time. "Perhaps there are men of knowledge who never laugh," he said. "I don't know any of them, though. Those I know see and also look, so they laugh."

"Would a man of knowledge cry as well?"

"I suppose so. Our eyes look so we may laugh, or cry, or rejoice, or be sad, or be happy. I personally don't like to be sad, so whenever I witness something that would ordinarily make me sad, I simply shift my eyes and see it instead of looking at it. But when I encounter something funny I look and I laugh."

"But then, don Juan, your laughter is real and not controlled folly."

Don Juan stared at me for a moment. "I talk to you because you make me laugh," he said. "You remind me of some bushy-tailed rats of the desert that get caught when they stick their tails in holes trying to scare other rats away in order to steal their food. You get caught in your own questions. Watch out! Sometimes those rats yank their tails off trying to pull themselves free."


"My laughter, as well as everything I do, is real," he said, "but it also is controlled folly because it is useless; it changes nothing and yet I still do it."

"But as I understand it, don Juan, your laughter is not useless. It makes you happy."

"No! I am happy because I choose to look at things that make me happy and then my eyes catch their funny edge and I laugh. I have said this to you countless times. One must always choose the path with heart in order to be at one's best, perhaps so one can always laugh."

I interpreted what he had said as meaning that crying was inferior to laughter, or at least perhaps an act that weakened us. He asserted that there was no intrinsic difference and that both were unimportant; he said, however, that his preference was laughter, because laughter made his body feel better than crying. At that point I suggested that if one has a preference there is no equality; if he preferred laughing to crying, the former was indeed more important.

He stubbornly maintained that his preference did not mean they were not equal; and I insisted that our argument could be logically stretched to saying that if things were supposed to be so equal why not also choose death?

"Many men of knowledge do that," he said. "One day they may simply disappear. People may think that they have been ambushed and killed because of their doings. They choose to die because it doesn't matter to them. On the other hand, I choose to live, and to laugh, not because it matters, but because that choice is the bent of my nature. The reason I say I choose is because I see, but it isn't that I choose to live; my will makes me go on living in spite of anything I may see.

"You don't understand me now because of your habit of thinking as you look and thinking as you think."

This statement intrigued me very much. I asked him to explain what he meant by it. He repeated the same construct various times, as if giving himself time to arrange it in different terms, and then delivered his point, saying that by "thinking" he meant the constant idea that we have of everything in the world. He said that "seeing" dispelled that habit and until I learned to "see" I could not really understand what he meant.

"But if nothing matters, don Juan, why should it matter that I learn to see?"

"I told you once that our lot as men is to learn, for good or bad," he said. "I have learned to see and I tell you that nothing really matters; now it is your turn; perhaps some day you will see and you will know then whether things matter or not. For me nothing matters, but perhaps for you everything will. You should know by now that a man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting, nor by thinking about what he will think when he has finished acting. A man of knowledge chooses a path with heart and follows it; and then he looks and rejoices and laughs; and then he sees and knows. He knows that his life will be over altogether too soon; he knows that he, as well as everybody else, is not going anywhere; he knows, because he sees, that nothing is more important than anything else. In other words, a man of knowledge has no honor, no dignity, no family, no name, no country, but only life to be lived, and under these circumstances his only tie to his fellow men is his controlled folly. Thus a man of knowledge endeavors, and sweats, and puffs, and if one looks at him he is just like any ordinary man, except that the folly of has life is under control. Nothing being more important than anything else, a man of knowledge chooses any act, and acts it out as if it matters to him. His controlled folly makes him say that what he does matters and makes him act as if it did, and yet he knows that it doesn't; so when he fulfills his acts he retreats in peace, and whether his acts were good or bad, or worked or didn't, is in no way part of his concern."

"A man of knowledge may choose, on the other hand, to remain totally impassive and never act, and behave as if to be impassive really matters to him; he will be rightfully true at that too, because that would also be his controlled folly."

I involved myself at this point in a very complicated effort to explain to don Juan that I was interested in knowing what would motivate a man of knowledge to act in a particular way in spite of the fact that he knew nothing mattered.

He chuckled softly before answering.

"You think about your acts," he said. "Therefore you have to believe your acts are as important as you think they are, when in reality nothing of what one does is important. Nothing! But then if nothing really matters, as you asked me, how can I go on living? It would be simple to die; that's what you say and believe, because you're thinking about life, just as you're thinking now what seeing would be like. You wanted me to describe it to you so you could begin to think about it, the way you do with everything else. In the case of seeing, however, thinking is not the issue at all, so I cannot tell you what it is like to see. Now you want me to describe the reasons for my controlled folly and I can only tell you that controlled folly is very much like seeing; it is something you cannot think about."

A Separate Reality
Carlos Castaneda

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Most Frightening Waste There Is

I wonder what it would be like to meet and apprentice yourself to a teacher like Don Juan? I wonder just how quickly life would be turned completely upside down, how quickly and thoroughly life would be turned inside out. I wonder just how completely i'd let him/her do that to me. How do you guard your sanity while at the same time letting the teacher purposefully drive you insane? How do you trust a person who's sole job is to make you become nothing, to make you vanish, to make you see that you are nothing?

"My benefactor was a sorcerer of great powers," .... "He was a warrior through and through. His will was indeed his most magnificent accomplishment. But a man can go still further than that; a man can learn to see. Upon learning to see he no longer needs to live like a warrior, nor be a sorcerer. Upon learning to see a man becomes everything by becoming nothing. He, so to speak, vanishes and yet he's there. I would say that this is the time when a man can be or can get anything he desires. But he desires nothing, and instead of playing with his fellow men like they were toys, he meets them in the midst of their folly. The only difference between them is that a man who sees controls his folly, while his fellow men can't. A man who sees has no longer an active interest in his fellow men. Seeing has already detached him from absolutely everything he knew before."

"The sole idea of being detached from everything I know gives me the chills," I said.

"You must be joking! The thing which should give you the chills is not to have anything to look forward to but a lifetime of doing that which you have always done. Think of the man who plants corn year after year until he's too old and tired to get up, so he lies around like an old dog. His thoughts and feelings, the best of him, ramble aimlessly to the only things he has ever done, to plant corn. For me that is the most frightening waste there is.

"We are men and our lot is to learn and to be hurled into inconceivable new worlds."

"Are there any new worlds for us really?" I asked half in jest.

"We have exhausted nothing, you fool," he said imperatively.

"Seeing is for impeccable men. Temper your spirit now, become a warrior, learn to see, and then you'll know that there is no end to the new worlds for our vision."

A Separate Reality
Carlos Castaneda


"[Y]ou don't have enough personal power to unravel that topic. Wait until you have it, then we will talk."

"What if I never have it?"

"If you never have it, we'll never talk."

"At the rate I'm going, will I ever have enough of it?" I asked.

"That's up to you," he replied. "I have given you all the information necessary. Now it's your responsibility to gain enough personal power to tip the scales."

"You're talking in metaphors," I said. "Give it to me straight. Tell me exactly what I should do. If you have already told me, let's say that I've forgotten it."

Don Juan chuckled and lay down, putting his arms behind his head. "You know exactly what you need," he said.

I told him that sometimes I thought I knew, but that most of the time I had no self-confidence.

"I'm afraid that you are confusing issues," he said. "The self-confidence of the warrior is not the self-confidence of the average man. The average man seeks certainty in the eyes of the onlooker and calls that self-confidence. The warrior seeks impeccability in his own eyes and calls that humbleness. The average man is hooked to his fellow men, while the warrior is hooked only to himself. Perhaps you are chasing rainbows. You're after the self-confidence of the average man, when you should be after the humbleness of a warrior. The difference between the two is remarkable. Self-confidence entails knowing something for sure; humbleness entails being impeccable in one's actions and feelings."

"I've been trying to live in accordance with your suggestions," I said. "I may not be the best, but I'm the best of myself. Is that impeccability?"

"No. You must do better than that. You must push yourself beyond your limits, all the time."

"But that would be insane, don Juan. No one can do that."

"There are lots of things that you do now which would have seemed insane to you ten years ago. Those things themselves did not change, but your idea of yourself changed; what was impossible before is perfectly possible now and perhaps your total success in changing yourself is only a matter of time. In this affair the only possible course that a warrior has is to act consistently and without reservations. You know enough of the warrior's way to act accordingly, but your old habits and routines stand in your way."


"Everything we do, everything we are, rests on our personal power. If we have enough of it, one word uttered to us might be sufficient to change the course of our lives. But if we don't have enough personal power, the most magnificent piece of wisdom can be revealed to us and that revelation won't make a damn bit of difference."

He then lowered his voice as if he were disclosing a confidential matter to me. "I'm going to utter perhaps the greatest piece of knowledge anyone can voice," he said. "Let me see what you can do with it."

"Do you know that at this very moment you are surrounded by eternity? And do you know that you can use that eternity, if you so desire?"

After a long pause, during which he urged me with a subtle movement of his eyes to make a statement, I said that I did not understand what he was talking about.

"There! Eternity is there!" he said, pointing to the horizon. Then he pointed to the zenith. "Or there, or perhaps we can say that eternity is like this.” He extended both arms to point to the east and west.

We looked at each other. His eyes held a question.

"What do you say to that?" he asked, coaxing me to ponder upon his words.

I did not know what to say.

"Do you know that you can extend yourself forever in any of the directions I have pointed to?" he went on. "Do you know that one moment can be eternity? This is not a riddle; it's a fact, but only if you mount that moment and use it to take the totality of yourself forever in any direction,"

He stared at me.

"You didn't have this knowledge before," he said, smiling. "Now you do. I have revealed it to you, but it doesn't make a bit of difference, because you don't have enough personal power to utilize my revelation. Yet if you did have enough power, my words alone would serve as the means for you to round up the totality of yourself and to get the crucial part of it out of the boundaries in which it is contained."

He came to my side and poked my chest with his fingers; it was a very light tap. "These are the boundaries I'm talking about," he said. "One can get out of them. We are a feeling, an awareness encased here."

He slapped my shoulders with both hands. My pad and pencil fell to the ground. Don Juan put his foot on the pad and stared at me and then laughed.

I asked him if he minded my taking notes. He said no in a reassuring tone and moved his foot away.

"We are luminous beings," he said, shaking his head rhythmically. "And for a luminous being only personal power matters. But if you ask me what personal power is, I have to tell you that my explanation will not explain it."

Tales Of Power
Carlos Castaneda

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Little Bondage Anyone?

I couldn't decide today if i wanted to post a quote from Robert Adams or from Thich Nhat Hanh. I'm completely addicted to Robert Adams' book Silence of The Heart and visit it often, but for some reason i've been thinking about Thich Nhat Hanh quite a bit this week.

I think i'm going to set aside next week to reread Thich Nhat Hanh's wonderful book Understanding Our Mind, which i think offers the best explanation of the (Zen) Buddhist concepts of consciousness, and to relisten to his astoundingly wonderful CD set The Ultimate Dimension: An Advanced Dharma Retreat on the Avatamsaka and Lotus Sutras. I already reread the book earlier this year, but it's probably been a few years since i last listened to the CDs.

But, since i've been reading Silence of The Heart today, i'll post Robert Adams.

"When you really understand who you are, you will experience unalloyed happiness. Happiness that you only dreamed about, happiness in the Silence, when nothing is happening but you're happy. Always happy, always at peace. All of the gods that you have been praying to all your life, all of the Buddhas you taken refuge in, the Krishnas, the Shivas, the Christ, Allah, they're all within you. You are That. There is only the one Self and you are That. Ponder this.

The knowledge of this brings you eternal infinite happiness instantly. When you begin to understand who you are, your divine nature, that you are not the body, you're not the mind, once you understand your Infinite nature, who you really are and there's nothing else, you immediately become instantly happy. For happiness is your very nature. Happiness, the Self, are synonymous. Consciousness, Absolute Reality, Pure Awareness, are all synonymous. There is only One. It has many names, but the One pervades all of space and time. And it is the only existence and you are That. There is no other existence. Awaken to this truth. You are the only One that does exist. And you are consciousness.


You're like a clay pot. A clay pot has space inside of it and outside of it. The space inside is not any different than the space outside. When the clay pot breaks, the space merges with inside and the outside. It's only one space. So it is with us. Your body is like a clay pot, and it appears you have to go within to find the truth. The outward appears to be within you. The outward is also without you. There's boundless space. When the body is transcended, it's like a broken clay pot. The Self within you becomes the Self outside of you. Always merges with the Self. As it's always been. The Self merges with the Self. Some people call the inner Self the Atman. And yet it is called Brahman. When there is no body in the way, the Atman and the Brahman become One. They become Brahman, One-ness, Absolute Reality, Pure Awareness. They become free and liberated.

"We don't have to wait until the body dies for this to happen, it can happen to us now. You can become totally free and liberated now, if you will. All you have to do is let go. You let go of everything that's been keeping you in bondage mentally. Listen to your heart. Observe yourself. Become cognizant of your feelings, your emotions, Is this really you? Are you really your emotions? Are you really your feelings that you observe? Where do these feelings come from? Ask yourself, 'Who am I? Where do my feelings come from? Where do my thoughts come from? Where does my life come from? Who is playing the game? Who is being alive? Who is growing up, becoming old and dying? Who is playing this game? Who is the I that is playing this game? Who am I?'


"Stop feeling sorry for your self, saying you're unhappy. Stand up tall. Know the truth about yourself. Become the witness of all phenomena that you see, and be free."

Silence of The Heart
Robert Adams

Open your eyes and be free. Let go. Simply let go — of everything you have ever thought you are. Drop it. While sitting, become your zafu. Become your sitting room and everything in it. Become the trees around your house. Become your community and everyone and everything in it. Become the world and all the world's population. Become the universe, and more. Let go of the small, trivial life you believed in before and expand into everything that is, was, and ever will be. Expand into that which never is, was, or ever will be. And in that emptiness, that everythingness, sits happiness waiting. It's not a struggle to let go, it's a struggle to persist with the charade; but persisting has become such an ingrained habit, that's close to impossible for many to see.

As Rumi says in his poem You Are Not Your Eyes, "Those who have reached their arms into emptiness are no longer concerned with lives and truth, with mind and soul, or which side of the bed they rose from. If you are still struggling to understand, you are not there."

As Robert said, "Ask yourself, 'Who am I? Where do my feelings come from? Where do my thoughts come from? Where does my life come from? Who is playing the game? Who is being alive? Who is growing up, becoming old and dying? Who is playing this game? Who is the I that is playing this game? Who am I?'"

Who, who, who, who, who...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sipping This And That

Eons before this
A short moment before that
Sipping tea and life

Monday, July 12, 2010

In This Ring: Will Power vs Budget

Went to the store this morning to buy a desperately needed new pair of shorts and stumbled on this very nice wooden statue:

At about two and a half feet high and only $50, it stopped me in my tracks. After not-so-discretely fondling it and drooling for a few longish minutes, i was a good boy and put it back on the shelf and walked away. But it wasn't long before i was back...helplessly, hopelessly, ecstatically in love.

Then the inevitable...

Lao, you can't afford that. With tax it's going to be $55. (sigh)

Come on, Dave, it's gorgeous. Just look at it.

Fifty-five bucks, Lao. Just look at you wallet. Come on, now, focus.

I can come up with the money.


I don't know, but i can.


Well, i haven't filled up my car with gas yet this month...

You need a car, Lao. Don't be stupid.

Yeah, yeah, i know that. But listen. If i wait another week before filling it, that means the last tank lasted all of June and half of July. If i stretch out this next tank until the end of August, then that means i only used two months of the gas budget over three months, and, voila, there's $20 free.

You're an idiot. But, OK, let's say that's possible... where's the other $35 going to come from? Huh?

My grocery budget. I can easily, if i have to, squeeze that out of a month. Or, if i want to make it easy, squeeze $20 out of July and the other $15 out of August. Piece of cake. Easy.

Do you not really see how stupid you are????

But look at it, Dave, it's gorgeous! It needs a home. I need the company. By buying it i'm helping to stimulate the economy. It's from China so i'm helping to improve US-China relations. Besides, i can do this; i know i can.

Sigh..... you really are Lao Bendan, aren't you.


Dharma In The Dark

Road Kill 9

The dharma is weird
Laws and lists and things to learn
Sun sets then it's dark

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Nice Guys Finish Later

You can tell me i'm wrong, but i say Astana rode much too strongly today to inexplicably die in the last few minutes of the race. I think they intentionally held back so Andy Schleck could get his first Tour stage win. It costs Contador absolutely nothing and was a very nice gesture. Schleck gets his first win, Astana doesn't have to worry about defending the yellow jersey, and Contador's legs are that little micro-bit less tired.

Congrats to Andy! Well done to Astana.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

No Rules

No rule book exists
A fight to the death is it
Each breath a new round

...and after posting that, i just thought of this...

There are no new rounds
Just one long fight to the death
With no one to die

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I'm There Too

Mix a little Rumi sauce ...

When you are with everyone but me,
you're with no one.

When you are with no one but me,
you're with everyone.

Instead of being so bound up with everyone,
be everyone.

When you become that many, you're nothing.

Rumi: The Book Of Love

... with a little Michelle Featherstone spicing ...

... and, voila, you get a meal that satisfies the soul.

Not-So-Random Acts Of Kindness

This is too long to simply quote here, so go over to the below blog entry at Psych Central and read the whole post there. Then put it to use and practice each and every day. Keep yourself poised and ready all day long for any chance to offer a not-so-random act of kindness.

What would the world be like if we all reduced, even just a smidgen, our focus on "i, me, mine" and spent part of every day focused on "we, us, our's?" Huh????????

For some it wouldn't be easy at first, and after a week the experiment would be over, but if we all tried, and we all stuck with it, and we all encouraged each other, and we all congratulated each other, and we all built incentives into our lives to keep us on track, and we all asked our friends and colleagues and peers to hold us accountable for a certain number each day/week, and these not-so-random acts started to become a habit, and.... and... and... Just think what the world would be like.

How high can you count?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Believing Big

"Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. Study the fellow who is shuffling down there in mediocrity. He believes he is worth little, so he receives little. He believes he can't do big things, and he doesn't. He believes he is unimportant, so everything he does has an unimportant mark. As times goes by, lack of belief in himself shows through in the way the fellow talks, walks, acts. Unless he readjusts his thermostat forward, he shrinks, grows smaller and smaller, in his own estimation. And, since others see in us what we see in ourselves, he grows smaller in the estimation of the people around him.

"Now look across the way at the person who is advancing forward. He believes he is worth much, and he receives much. He believes he can handle big, difficult assignments—and he does. Everything he does, the way he handles himself with people, his character, his thoughts, his viewpoints, all say, 'Here is a professional. He is an important person.'

"A person is a product of his own thoughts. Believe Big. Adjust your thermostat forward. Launch your success offensive with honest, sincere belief that you can succeed. Believe big and grow big."

The Magic of Thinking Big
David Schwartz

I always wondered why he titled his book "thinking big" instead of "believing big," since that's really what he says you have to do. You can think anything you want, but if you don't believe it..... oh well. I can convince myself that someone is going to email me and offer me the perfect job, in the ideal location, with more than enough money to travel the world in my spare time; can even think that every morning while eating breakfast and checking my new messages. But, only a fool would really believe it, so it's not going to happen.

Don't just think big, believe it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Price Of Life

A couple of interesting quotes from this evening's reading while waiting for the Cubs game to get underway.

"Goals are a means to an end, not the ultimate purpose of our lives. They are simply a tool to concentrate our focus and move us in a direction. The only reason we really pursue goals is to cause ourselves to expand and grow. Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; it's who you become, as you overcome the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals, that can give you the deepest and most long-lasting sense of fulfillment. So maybe the key question you and I need to ask is, "What kind of person will I have to become in order to achieve all that I want?" This may be the most important question that you can ask yourself, for its answer will determine the direction you need to head personally."

Awaken The Giant Within
Tony Robbins

(Bolding in original)


"It is demanded of man that he shall continue to strive after better things, after greater perfection, after higher and still higher achievements; and in accordance with the measure of his obedience to this demand, does the angel of joy wait upon his footsteps and minister unto him; for he who is anxious to learn, eager to know, and who puts forth efforts to accomplish, finds the joy which eternally sings at the heart of the universe. First in little things, then in greater, and then in greater still, must man strive; until at last be is prepared to make the supreme effort, and strive for the accomplishment of Truth, succeeding in which, he will realize the eternal joy.

"The price of life is effort; the acme of effort is accomplishment; the reward of accomplishment is joy."

The Mastery of Destiny
James Allen

James is so very, very correct in saying "It is demanded of man that he shall continue to strive after better things, after greater perfection, after higher and still higher achievements. ... The price of life is effort." It may seem like a steep price to pay on some days (ok, on a great many days) (ok, ok, on most days), but it's not the "requested price," a "suggested donation" — it's the demanded price.

We are driven to grow. We are driven to improve ourselves. We are driven to seek perfection. We are driven to test our limits. We are driven to try and fly even though we were born without wings, and it is inherent in who we are to listen to that call ... or suffer. The only way to avoid that suffering is to pay the price and put in the effort.

I also believe that Tony has it absolutely correct when he says that we first have to ask ourselves: "What kind of person will I have to become in order to achieve all that I want?" Yes, you first have to figure out what you want, what turns you on. Yes, you have to find a way to motivate yourself to take action. Yes, you have to set goals in order to get there. And, yes, you have to learn how to enjoy the journey as much, or more, than arriving at the goal.

But, more importantly you have to realize that the you that got you to this point in your life will not help you to get to the next point in your life — a new you will be needed to reach a new stage. As "they" say: if you always do what you've always done you'll always get what you always got. You begin the process of growth by finding out what that new you has to be; by asking Tony's question: what kind of person do i have to become?

I hadn't planned to include any Jim Rohn in this (because i wasn't reading him today), but this just begs for a couple of the favorites i think about often:

"Those who seek a better life must first become a better person. They must continually seek after self-mastery for the purpose of developing a balanced philosophy of life, and then live in accordance with the dictates of that philosophy."

From Five Major Pieces To The Life Puzzle


"It's not what you get that makes you valuable, it's what you become that makes you valuable."

From The Art of Exceptional Living

So i end this day by asking myself, what kind of person do i have to become?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sipping Silence

Found the first two-thirds of this while running this morning but didn't know what to do with it as it was unfinished. Ran over the last line on the way back home while out on my bike this afternoon.

Road Kill 8

Neither here nor now
Filling the cup with silence
For noone to drink

Hiding In A Cup Of Tea

"There are four inherent at­tributes of tea: peacefulness, respectfulness, purity and quietness. In drinking tea these qualities should be cultivated in the drinker.

"Tea is said to be a ‘Way’ (Tao). This is because it is something you learn to appreciate through feeling, not through putting it into words. If a person is in a state of quietness, only then will he appreci­ate the quietness inherent in the tea. If he is excited, he will never recognize the tea’s quietness. For this reason it is said that tea and meditation are of one taste. If one’s meditation is not single-pointed, one will fail to appreciate the true qualities of tea. A Way is present when there is no-mind. This no-mind is our fundamental nature. The sun shines and it is warm; this is a Way. If you are hungry, you eat; this is a Way. When you are tired, you sleep; this is a Way. The nature of water to run from high to low is also a Way. Nan-ch’uan said that the Way is a constantly equanimous mind. However, when his dis­ciple Chao Chou was once asked about the Way, he said it was the road that ran by the house! Lao Tzu maintained that the Way you speak of is not the true Way.

"In China the Way is under­stood as equivalent to the Dharma and the truth. Chinese Christians even identify it with God. Nevertheless, it is also understood in the conventional sense of a road or a path, i.e. something which connects two separate points in time and space. These two concepts of the Way only appear to be different to a dualistic, dis­criminating mind. In reality they are intimately related since movement and stasis are essentially one. This is what is meant by the statement in the Avatamsaka Sutra, ‘All is equal to one and one is equal to all,’ and the Heart Sutra’s maxim, ‘Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.’ In reality, waves are the ocean and defilements are enlightenment.

"Q: So is the ultimate purpose of drinking tea to realise the Way?

"A: No. You drink tea because you need to quench your thirst, not to discover some ‘Way’ hidden somewhere in the tea."

Excerpt from The Way of Tea, by Popchong Sunim
A post on the Buddhism Now blog

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Passionate Death

Two more Rumi poems:


I desire you
more than food
or drink

My body
my senses
my mind
hunger for your taste

I can sense your presence
in my heart
although you belong
to all the world

I wait
with silent passion
for one gesture
one glance
from you

In The Love Poems of Rumi
Deepak Chopra, Ed.

I love the passion that pours out of this poem, that feeling that this person wants to "see" as badly as he would want to find a doctor if he was having a heart attack. I love the sense of angst, the sense of longing, the sense that this person has had a glimpse, maybe briefly, maybe veiled, maybe as confusing as clarifying, but he had that glimpse...and wants it again. No, it's more than that; the glimpse was enough to convince her that all the teachers had been right and now she is jealous and wants the whole package; no more glimpses, she wants the whole, clear, unobstructed view.

But i also feel a bit sad because i see the futility of her wait. The sense of separation between the seeker and the sought is obvious, is hanging there in the air right in front of her face — but she doesn't see it. She's blind.

This seeker still see himself as separate from the sought. This seeker still sees something outside of himself that can give a sign, a gesture, a glance. He is blind, deaf, and dumb and doesn't realize that with each breath the sign has been given, with each sunrise admired the glance has taken place, with each movement of his own body the gesture has been made. He doesn't see that the seeing, the glancing, the gesturing, are it.

As long as there is a difference between the seeker, the seeking, and the glimpse can be had. Don't just sit there and wait. No bus will ever show up. Don't just sit there and hunger. You're belly is already full! You are what you seek, it's really just that simple.

Here's the other side of the coin from the same book:

Dying To Love

Die Die!
Die in this love!
If you die in this love
your soul will be renewed

Die Die!
Don't fear the death
of that which is known
If you die to this temporal
you will become timeless

Die Die!
Cut off those chains
that hold you prisoner
to the world of attachment

Die Die!
Die to the deathless
and you will be eternal

Die Die!
and come out of this cloud
When you leave the cloud
you will be the effulgent moon

Die Die!
Die to the din and the noise
of mundane concerns
In the silence of love
you will find the spark of life

In The Love Poems of Rumi
Deepak Chopra, Ed.

We spend entire lives running away from the silence, frantically seeking that din and noise that keeps us isolated, keeps us separate, keeps us alone. We think that being alone means being separated from all the others in this world. But that's not true — being alone means continuing to believe that you are separated from all those 'others,' believing that you are separate from anything, believing that what you are is an isolated bag of skin with an individual identity separate from everyone else, believing that you are alone 'in here.'

In that silence, though, you can see that this is not the case. You are not alone, never have been alone, never will be alone, because what's 'in here' is the same as what's 'out there.' Give up those fantasies of individuality and never be alone again. Sit in that silence, walk in that silence, stand in that silence, grocery shop in that silence, repair your car in that silence, ... live in that silence... and you will never be alone again.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Stillness of The Garden

I really am a creature of habit, there's no denying it. Why is it that whenever i'm feeling lost i immediately run for cover in Anthony de Mello, Rumi, and Daido Loori? You'd think that i would have branched out over the years, but for some reason i don't; i always seem to run to the same trees to look for a hiding place and answers.

I've probably watched this Rumi clip on YouTube more times this week than i can count.

The last line of the video always reminds me of the "Prayer" chapter of Kahlil Gibran's book, The Prophet, particularly the lines: "I can not teach you how to pray in words. God listens not to your words save when He himself utters them through your lips." When there is You and God, nothing can be heard, nothing can be listened to. It is only when we realize that it is God, saying the prayer himself. through that bag of skin we call ourselves, that anything can really be said, that anything can really be heard.

But these lines from the same chapter are just as good: "[I]f you should enter the temple for no other purpose than asking you shall not receive. And if you should enter into it to humble yourself you shall not be lifted. Or even if you should enter into it to beg for the good of others you shall not be heard. It is enough that you enter the temple invisible."

"I am bewildered by the magnificence of your beauty and wish to see you with a hundred eyes." It's when you get to this state that you understand how to "enter the temple invisible." It's what i think Daido would mean about being intimate with your practice, being intimate with the prayer, being intimate with the temple. When you are invisible, when there is no separation between you and that magnificence, when there is no You there, when there is just the prayer, just the temple, just the visit, there is intimacy. And, that's when you can say "Today i've seen the charm, the beauty, the unfathomable grace of the face that i was looking for."

I've probably also read this Anthony de Mello excerpt just as many times.

The Slave Girl

A Moslem King fell passionately in love with a slave girl and had her transferred from the slave quarters to the palace. He planned to marry her and make her his favourite wife but, mysteriously, the girl fell seriously ill on the very day she entered the palace.

She grew steadily worse. Every known remedy was given her, to no avail; She hovered between life and death.

In despair the King made on offer of half his kingdom to anyone who would cure her. But who would attempt to cure an illness that had baffled the best physicians of the realm?

Finally a hakim appeared who asked to be allowed to see the girl alone. After he had spoken with her for an hour he appeared before the throne of the King who anxiously awaited his verdict.

"Your Majesty," said the hakim. "I do indeed have an infallible cure for the girl. And so sure am I of its effectiveness that were it not to work, I should willingly offer myself to be beheaded. The medicine I propose, however, will prove to be an extremely painful one—not for the girl, but for you."

"Mention the medicine," shouted the King. "And it shall be given her, no matter the cost."

The hakim looked at the King with compassion and said, "The girl is in love with one of your servants. Give her permission to marry him and she will be instantly cured."

Poor King! He wanted the girl too much to let her go. He loved her too much to let her die.

Ahhh.... should remind us of our love affair with our egos? Our egos are in love with our servants: our eye perceptions, our ear perceptions, our nose, tongue, body, and mind perceptions. Our egos are in love with all that serves our daily dualistic lives. We love them too much to let them go; we love them too much to let them die. So we waffle. We learn, we practice, we search, we beseech, we do anything except the only thing that can save us: letting it go. Giving ourselves freedom. Giving it the freedom to breath new life into us.