Monday, January 31, 2011

Tear Down The Walls!

A few words about the retreat i recently sat:

The schedule started with a one hour sit the night we arrived, before the actual 10 days began. It ended with a two hour sit the day after it was over, before eating breakfast, cleaning everything, and leaving. The first 9 days are lived in complete silence (as in not one word to anyone). That was relaxed on day 10. No jogging, no yoga, no mp3 players, no books, no journaling, no nothing but eat, sleep, and sit. Period.

The schedule for the 10 days called for 10½ hours of formal sitting every day, beginning at 4:30 in the morning and ending at 9:00 at night. With breaks between some of the sits, though, that probably worked out to about 10 actual hours on the cushion. During the last few days they encouraged all to continue meditating all day — while walking between buildings, while eating, during breaks, while in the process of going to sleep, etc.

The gist of the technique they taught was to stay completely focused on the sensations in/on your body. To do that you mentally scanned your body from the top of the head to the bottom of your feet, inch-by-inch, from top to bottom, and then back up, over and over and over and over. Once you could feel sensations everywhere (the cold air, your shirt touching the skin, an itch, pain, tingling, numbness, heat, ..., whatever it is) you could then scan whole sections of the body at once.

As i understand the explanations, once you get past the "gross," as in obvious, not subtle, sensations of pain, numbness, etc., the more subtle sensations are biochemical, biophysical, reactions to the mental response to all perceptions, either pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral.

According to Buddhist Psychology, whenever a perception takes place, our mind immediately and automatically produces a pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral feeling. If pleasant, the mind takes the next step and grasps for more; if unpleasant, it takes the next step and tries to avoid further similar perceptions. Mindfulness meditation is learning to observe those feelings as they arise in order to head off the grasping and avoiding we constantly do throughout the day.

This retreat goes one step further and says that it is very hard to see those feelings — they are very, very subtle. But, because of the way we are built as human beings, when a pleasant or unpleasant feeling occurs, we will always, always, have a biochemical reaction in the brain which transmits throughout the nervous system and gives us some form of biophysical reaction. Those, with training, we can sense, can feel, can notice.

The training, then is to teach ourselves how to focus the mind well enough, and to concentrate long enough and uninterruptedly enough, to notice all the physical sensations that occur continually in and throughout our bodies.

This serves three purposes, as i understand what they were trying to teach:
One, with practice we learn to see that a sensation will always appear before an emotion arises and breaks uncontrollably to the surface. Before anger gets out of hand, before lust overtakes us, before that uncontrollable urge to buy something grabs us, we learn to notice the sensations that foretell of that arising. It's recognizable and it's consistent.

Two, as we sit and watch the sensations come and go, we begin to see, not just intellectually, but experientially, that all sensations do just that — they come and go. They are all impermanent. With this we come to understand that everything in life, with no exceptions, is impermanent. Nothing is permanent; nothing lasts forever (except the numbness in my right leg when i sit, that is...)

So what good is that? Three, With practice you get to the point where you can observe the sensations and not feel compelled to react. You don't need to react anymore; you know it will go away of it's own accord, in it's own time. For example, you feel that itch on your nose and you don't automatically, without a thought, reach up and scratch it. You feel the pain in your knee and you don't, without a thought, change your seated position. You feel your legs go to sleep and you can just sit there like that, with them asleep, not automatically, without a thought, changing your posture. You learn that you have the ability to just sit and watch sensations as they begin to arise, as they build in intensity, as you begin to feel you'll go insane if you don't react NOW, as that intensity begins to fade, and as it finally disappears — which can be humorous as you catch yourself saying, "hey, where'd that itch go??"

Taken to your life off the cushion, you see someone that pisses you off for no other reason than having appeared before you. The usual reaction is immediate anger and a response, usually inappropriate. You now have the ability to recognize the sensations that precede that emotion and stop the emotion before it arises. You see that new gadget on the shelf and would before have immediately reached for your credit card. You now, though, notice the sensations preceding that out of control feeling of "i gotta have that," and stop yourself from reaching.

Those are the practical lessons i think they wanted you to walk away with. On a much, much larger scale, though, i think the message was to finally make people notice just how much of the mental activity that goes on in our minds is uncontrolled, uncalled for, undesired, unbeneficial, and just plain destructive.

Most people, myself included, marvel at what we as humans have accomplished with the minds we have been given. That's all good and well, but the real issue is, what could we accomplish if we actually learned to control our minds, to choose what thoughts to listen to, what thoughts to focus on, to weed out and ignore the unbeneficial and only act on the beneficial? If we as a People were to only act on the beneficial thoughts and no longer react to the unbeneficial ones, what could this world be? What couldn't it be?

While there two thoughts constantly plagued me, one from the Dhammapada and one poem from that 19th century Greek, Constantine Cavafy:

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.

Dhammapada, Chapter 1, "Choices"
Thomas Byrom



Without consideration, without pity, without shame
they have built great and high walls around me.

And now I sit here and despair.
I think of nothing else: this fate gnaws at my mind;

for I had many things to do outside.
Ah why did I not pay attention when they were building the walls!

But I never heard any noise or sound of builders.
Imperceptibly they shut me off from the outside world.

Constantine Cavafy

Let me tell you, for those that don't sit now, this work is much harder than it appears. I knew that just sitting at home was already difficult, but to concentrate for 10 days was brutal at times. During one session, before i realized what was going on i had completely reworked the design for a landscaping project i have planned for this spring in my front yard. In another session i had watched huge sections of Kill Bill 2 (sheepish grin).

In the end, though, as i was getting ready to leave it occurred to me that the whole retreat had passed in what felt like 3-4 days. It in no way felt like i had been there for 12 days, although i talked to others who told me it had felt they were there a month or more. :-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


In the middle of the second movement
hiding silently between two notes
as if daring you to notice
sits a pause, a rest, so short
yet once inside
if you listen carefully
lasting forever

And like the breeze
under the wings
of a bird
sliding gracefully
through the crisp
cold morning air
there yet not there

Not a trace to be seen
easy to overlook
obvious to all
who care to notice


Those silent unseens
that fill our days
offer support
strength and power
allow us to fly
give pause to our activities
give us life


Without the unheard
the unseen
where to find
that intangible potential
that allows flight
that allows expression

That allows all who sit
and observe
to hold awe
in the back of their throats
in fear of their sighs
disturbing the beauty
of that graceful moment
called now

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One With Everything

No body no mind
Fresh warm banana nut bread
One with everything

For those Rumi lovers out there, BetterListen!'s free audiobook of the month is The Glance: Songs of Soul-Meeting, 99 minutes of Coleman Barks reciting a dozen of Rumi's poems.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Body & Mind

Sitting in silence
Being no more than you are
No body no mind

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sitting In Silence

Storm raging outside
Yet inside protected calm
Sitting in silence

We sat through an all day snowstorm last week that dropped about 8" of snow, and this came to mind while trudging from the meditation hall to the dining hall for lunch. However, i don't yet know if it was referring to the snow storm or what had been going on in my head that morning. :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I leave for a 10-day meditation retreat in a few hours, and as i pack my bag an old quote from James Michener's novel Space comes to mind yet again:

"An Age isn't called Dark because the light didn't shine, but because people refused to see."

At the retreat we'll meditate just short of 11 hours a day, for 10 days. Why would people ever agree to do that? Because they are tired of refusing to see. Because they are tired of wandering in the dark. Because they wonder what the world looks like with the lights on.

There was an article online recently about some new caves that have been found in Vietnam. Huge caves; big enough to hold a great many city blocks of 40-story buildings. With running rivers, forests, plants, pools, etc; a veritable world within the world. It's not that it wasn't there before the explorers recently found it, it's only that no one had made the effort to do the work, strap on the ropes, and lower themselves inside, with bright lights shining in all directions.

That's what meditation is all about — investing the time and energy needed to lower yourself into the caves of your mind, with 'lights' on bright, in order to investigate what's there, in order to document the ecosystem, in order to research who lives there, how they live, why they do what they do. The purpose is to expose yourself to yourself. The purpose is to finally put batteries in that mental flashlight you inherited when you were born, but never bothered to turn on.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I know i quoted this section of the Dhammapada just the other day, but before going to bed i opened the book again to read just a few verses and when i opened it, these were the first words i saw.

"Hard it is to be born,
Hard it is to live,
Harder still to hear of the way,
And hard to rise, follow, and awake.

Yet the reaching is simple.

Do what is right.
Be pure.
At the end of the way is freedom.
Till then, patience."

I don't know why i find the last few lines so overwhelmingly poetic, but i do. I could say them over and over; they roll off the tongue like a sweet ballad.

Do what is right.
Be pure.
At the end of the way is freedom.
Till then, patience.

The Buddha says that the task at hand is hard, very hard, occasionally seeming impossibly hard. Forget the odds of just being born. Or the odds of being born in such a place, at such a time, with such a mental orientation...that you happen to hear of Buddhism...and that it happens to sound interesting enough that you listen...and that it sounds interesting enough that you look into it...and having looked into it, that you decide to aim for the ultimate prize. The odds against all of this are astronomical. And, if it happens, the work is HARD.

Yet, given all the difficulty, "the reaching is simple." The work is hard. It requires perseverance, faith, persistence, yes, even maybe some stubbornness. But, if you commit to putting in the time, "the reaching is simple." The reaching is simple. Simple.

All you have to do is, "Do what is right. Be pure." That's it. Do what is right, and be pure. And,

At the end of the way is freedom.
Till then, patience.

Till then, patience. You will reach. No, that's not the best way to say it. If 'you' reach, you missed it, because there is nowhere to go and no one to go there. That's another aspect of the difficult part of the journey. The other shore will appear. Not because you left 'this' shore and went 'there.' Not because you did anything special at any particular time and something happened. Freedom is not a state of mind, it is not a special mindset. It simply is. It simply IS. And one day, from out of the blue, you will simply realize that you are free, that the reaching has taking place.

Till then patience. Till then know that your work will pay off, it is just necessary to bide your time.


"The emphasis of the Upanishads is on WHOLENESS. Remember, it is not on perfection but on wholeness. The moment one becomes interested in being perfect, the ego enters in. The ego is a perfectionist – the desire of the ego is to be perfect – and perfection drives humanity towards insanity.

Wholeness is totally different; its flavor is different. Perfection is in the future: it is a desire. Wholeness is herenow: it is a revelation. Perfection has to be achieved, and of course every achievement takes time; it has to be gradual. You have to sacrifice the present for the future, the today for the tomorrow. And the tomorrow never comes; what comes is always today.

Existence knows nothing of future and nothing of past; it knows only the present. Now is the only time and here the only space. The moment you go astray from now and here you are going to end into some kind of madness. You will fall into fragments; your life will become a hell. You will be torn apart: the past will pull a part of you towards itself and the future the other part. You will become schizophrenic, split, divided. Your life will be only a deep anguish, a trembling, an anxiety, a tension. You will not know anything of bliss, you will not know anything of ecstasy because the past exists not.

And people go on living in the memories which are only footprints left on the sand; or they project a life into the future, which is also as non-existential as the past. One is no more, the other is not yet, and between the two one loses the real, the present, the now.

Wholeness is of the now. If you can be simply here, then this very moment the revelation! Then it is not gradual, it is sudden, it is an explosion!"

I Am That: Isha Upanishad

Monday, January 10, 2011


It all begins with that unspoken suspicion that everything you've ever been told could be a lie.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Going On Retreat

Leaving town Wednesday for a 10-day meditation retreat so the blog will be quiet from then until (at least) when i come home on the 23rd.

"We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world."

Chapter 1

"Wakefulness is the way to life.
The fool sleeps
As if he were already dead,
But the master is awake
And he lives forever.

He watches.
He is clear.
How happy he is!
For he sees that wakefulness is life.

How happy he is,
Following the path of the awakened.
With great perseverance
He meditates, seeking
Freedom and happiness.

So awake, reflect, watch.
Work with care and attention.
Live in the way
And the light will grow in you."

Chapter 2

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Seeker

Master your senses,
What you taste and smell,
What you see, what you hear.
In all things be a master
Of what you do and say and think.

Be free.
You are a seeker.

Delight in the mastery
Of your hands and your feet,
Of your words and your thoughts.

Delight in meditation
And in solitude.
Compose yourself, be happy.

You are a seeker.
Hold your tongue.
Do not exalt yourself
But lighten the way
For your words are sweet.

Follow the truth of the way.
Reflect upon it.
Make it your own.
Live it.
It will always sustain you.

Do not turn away what is given you
Not reach out for what is given to others,
Lest you disturb your quietness.
Give thanks
For what had been given to you,
However little.

Be pure, never falter.
You have no name and no form.
Why miss what you do not have?

The seeker is not sorry.
Love and joyfully
Follow the way,
The quiet way to the happy country.

Empty the boat,
Lighten the load,
Passion and desire and hatred.
And sail swiftly.

There are five at the door
To turn away, and five more,
And there are five to welcome in.
And when five have been left
Stranded on the shore,
The seeker is called oghatinnoti—
"He who has crossed over."

Do not be restless.
Meditate constantly.
Or you will swallow fire
And cry out: "No more!"

If you are not wise,
How can you steady the mind?
If you cannot quieten yourself,
What will you ever learn?
How will you become free?

With a quiet mind
Come into that empty house, your heart,
And feel the joy of the way
Beyond the world.

Look within—
The rising and the falling.
What happiness!

How sweet to be free!
It is the beginning of life,
Of mastery and patience,
Of good friends along the way,
Of a pure and active life.

So live in love.
Do your work.
Make an end of sorrow.
For see how the jasmine
Releases and lets fall
Its withered flowers.
Let fall willfulness and hatred.

Are you quiet?
Quieten your body.
Quieten your mind.
You want nothing.
Your words are still.
You are still.

By your own efforts
Waken yourself, watch yourself.
And live joyfully.
You are the master,
You are the refuge.
As a merchant breaks in a fine horse,
Master yourself.

How gladly you follow
The words of the awakened.
How quietly, how surely
You approach the happy country,
The heart of stillness.

However young,
The seeker who sets out upon the way
Shines bright over the world.
Like the moon,
Come out from behind the clouds!


Chapter 25
Thomas Byron

There are five at the door
To turn away, and five more,
And there are five to welcome in.
And when five have been left
Stranded on the shore,
The seeker is called oghatinnoti—
"He who has crossed over."

The "five at the door" are: Selfishness, Doubt, Pseudo-spirituality, Passion, and Hatred. Every time you open your door, these are waiting to snare you. Pay attention; be careful to turn them away before they can enter.

And the "five more" are: Not quite so 'in your face,' but waiting for the first chance they can find to snare you; Lust for life, Longing for birth in higher realms, Vanity, Restlessness, and Self-ignorance.

The "five to welcome in" are: Faith, Vigilance, Energy, Meditation, and Wisdom.

The "five left stranded on the shore" are: Greed, Anger, Delusion, Ego, and False Teachings.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Art of Madness

If i live another million lives, i don't think i will ever tire of Rumi.


You wreck my shop and my house and now my heart,
but how can I run from what gives me life?

I'm weary of personal worrying, in love
with the art of madness! Tear open my shame

and show the mystery. How much longer
do I have to fret with self-restraint and fear?

Friends, this is how it is: we are fringe
sewn inside the lining of a robe. Soon

we'll be loosened, the binding threads torn
out. The beloved is a lion. We're

the lame deer in his paws. Consider
what choices we have!

Rumi: The Book of Love
Translated by Coleman Barks

You wreck my shop and my house...
Everything in my life was in its rightful place. Everything followed established order. Long established order. My employees followed my commands. I knew, without doubt, what commands to give. The entire family understood and accepted my rules, the house was orderly and peaceful. My life was predictable.

And then you, YOU, showed up, from where and for what reason i know not! You stuck your nose in my life, MY life, and threw everything out of balance. I could no longer look down on anyone, i could no longer be unjust, i could no longer show preferences and bias. No, you wrecked my shop and my house. I no longer know how to act, what to do. The old rules have been obliterated! You have wrecked everything!!

and now my heart...
And now you've even broken through my last defenses and found your way into my heart. It used to be so easy to love who i wanted and hate those that deserved it. It used to be so easy to care when it benefited me and turn a cold shoulder when appropriate. It was so easy to function with my heart closed and locked. Now what? Tell me! Now what do i do with this heart broken open to everybody's feelings and concerns? Now what??? I can't stand this turmoil.

It is so hard to bear... so, so hard.

but how can I run from what gives me life?
No, i don't have the strength to run. How could i run anyway? You'd be with me every minute of every day even if i did. How can i run from what gives me life, nourishes me, feeds me that daily elixir called breath, called thoughts, called love. How can i run from what i am? I can't run, i realize that now. It's too late, you've shown me who i am.

I'm weary of personal worrying, in love with the art of madness!
Yes, it's too late to run. And in any case, i'm too tired. Worry and disquiet used to keep me up at night — was i going to get this, was i going to lose that, was so and so going to like me, was so and so going to hate me, would they buy, would the kids grow up well? I never let them show, but the vexations and distractions were overwhelming.

You have shown me the art of madness, and you are right, it is an art. Wild enthusiasm and excitement, even when they seem to border on foolishness, have opened me to new vistas, new feelings i have never experienced before. I love this art: laughing for no reason, joyously singing just to make people smile, dancing barefoot in the park in mid-winter, rolling down the hill with the kids for no reason other than it's downhill. Yes, some may say that living life by the rules of this art seems like madness, but i see that it is Life. Real life. Life worth living.

Tear open my shame and show the mystery. How much longer do I have to fret with self-restraint and fear?
I surrender. I no longer wish to fight. I'm in love with this art and am painfully aware, sadly aware, of my guilt, the inadequate way i have lived my life. Take this shame from me. Please. Tear open my heart and release me.

Friends, this is how it is: we are fringe sewn inside the lining of a robe. Soon we'll be loosened, the binding threads torn out.
My friends, this is how it is. I have been granted a glimpse behind the curtain and the wizard isn't who we thought he was.

We are like a bright and glorious fringe; colorful and with countless dazzling tassels capable of dancing in the wind. Yet somehow, we let ourselves get sewn inside the lining of the robe, hidden, instead of outside where we can share in the grandeur of the world.

But the time has come to open our eyes. The time has come when what binds us will be released. Stop fighting. Stop trying to control. Open your hearts and the loosening will take place. Friends, you have my word.

The beloved is a lion. We're the lame deer in his paws.
We are no more than lame deer. We have no power against the lion. We have no ability to demand what we want. Whether we live or die is not our choice. What the lion wills, the lion does. We are at the lion's mercy.

Consider what choices we have!
But don't ever think that we have no choices. Never. We have unlimited choices, unlimited ways we can act, react, respond, think, and do. Our potential is unlimited even when we know we are in his paws and at his mercy.

Choose! Act! Make a choice! Now! What will you do? Make a decision! It is your birthright to do so. NOW! What will you do?

I'd start by reaching up and licking his nose.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Till Then, Patience

The Man Who Is Awake
He is awake.
The victory is his.
He has conquered the world.

How can he lose the way
Who is beyond the way?

His eye is open
His foot is free.
Who can follow after him?

The world cannot reclaim him
Or lead him astray,
Nor can the poisoned net of desire hold him.
He is awake!

The gods watch over him.
He is awake
And finds joy in the stillness of meditation
And in the sweetness of surrender.

Hard it is to be born,
Hard it is to live,
Harder still to hear of the way,
And hard to rise, follow, and awake.

Yet the reaching is simple.
Do what is right.
Be pure.
At the end of the way is freedom.

Till then, patience.

If you wound or grieve another,
You have not learned detachment.
Offend in neither word nor deed.
Eat with moderation.
Live in your heart.
Seek the highest consciousness.

Master yourself according to the dharma.
This is the simple teaching of the awakened.

The rain could turn to gold
And still your thirst would not be slaked.
Desire is unquenchable
Or it ends in tears, even in heaven.
He who wishes to awake
Consumes his desires Joyfully.

In his fear a man may shelter
In mountains or in forests,
In groves of sacred trees or in shrines.
But how can he hide there from his sorrow?

He who shelters in the way
And travels with those who follow it
Comes to see the four great truths.
Concerning sorrow,
The beginning of sorrow,
The eightfold way
And the end of sorrow.
Then at last he is safe.
He has shaken off sorrow.
He is free.

The awakened are few and hard to find.
Happy is the house where a man awakes.
Blessed is his birth.
Blessed is the teaching of the way.
Blessed is the understanding among those who follow it,
And blessed is their determination.
And blessed are those who revere
The man who awakes and follows the way.

They are free from fear.
They are free.
They have crossed over the river of sorrow.

The Dhammapada
Chapter 14
Thomas Byrom

Ah yes..... At the end of the way is freedom. Till then, patience. The man who awakes and follows the way... is patient... and happy... and free.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Gateway To Detachment

Yesterday i quoted Donna Farhi talking about "the energy that we may have ... squandered defending and fortifying a limited definition of self." In the Yuibutsu Yobutsu (Only A Buddha Can Transmit To A Buddha) chapter of the Shōbōgenzō, Dōgen continues her sentence:

An ancient Buddha said, "The entire world is the real body of man, the gateway to detachment, the eye of Vairocana Buddha, and our own dharmakaya." This means that truth is the real body, or, in other words, the entire world is not part of our own body, but is the real body. In regard to this the following question was once asked: "Why am i unaware that the entire world is the real body?" The reply was, "It is because ignorance has prevented true understanding of these words." ...

From the statement "the entire world is the gateway to detachment," we understand that on arriving at this stage we will be free of confusion and attachment. "The entire world" refers to the close relationship between time, thought, and speech; while it in itself is beyond the confines of time and space. A discriminative mind bars entry through the gateway of detachment. If we reflect further on the statement "the entire world is the gateway to detachment," we will realize that seeking the gateway outside ourself is useless.

While Dōgen says that it is our prevailing ignorance that keeps us from realizing this and continuing to waste life's energies defending and fortifying a limited view or who we are, he cautions us at the beginning of the chapter with these words: "The Buddhist Dharma cannot be understood through rational and intellectual study. None who has looked at Buddhism in this way has ever attained enlightenment." While our intellect can start us on the path to understanding, it is imperative that we acknowledge that in the end it will not get us through the gateway; in the end, we have to let go of the intellect if we hope to see through this limited view of ourself.

Given that i think it is obvious that 'the entire world' is our real body, and that it is utter nonsense to think that "I" stop at the outer edges of my skin, the most interesting sentence in this for me is, "'The entire world' refers to the close relationship between time, thought, and speech; while it in itself is beyond the confines of time and space." What does that mean?

We are not limited — what we are, in essence and in fact, is completely beyond the confines of time and space, completely beyond the concepts of time and space. Why? How? Because what we are is all there is, what we are is everything, what we are is infinite unity. Time, space, thoughts, me, you, the earth, the universe, all, nothing, parts... are all inventions of the human mind, made up to explain the universe as we perceive it from the limited perspective we take ourselves to be. The 'whole earth' is life when that perspective is nowhere to be found, when we have broken out of that shell into existence. And there, in that non-duality, there is no confinement, no borders.

Yet, we are ignorant (and i could be the chief ignoramus...). We do live our lives within limited perspectives. We have to in order to function and to keep ourselves out of white jackets with very long sleeves and lots of buckles and to keep ourselves from having to sleep in padded rooms. The world demands acceptance of the limited me.

Then what does he mean by "'The entire world' refers to the close relationship between time, thought, and speech."? The 'entire world' refers to everything, all, nothing lacking, one, not two, so how can there be a relationship between anything? 'Anything' implies parts; duality. Reality is non-dual, but it includes the world of duality, the world we live our day-to-day lives in. And this world, governed, defined, determined, and fixed by our thoughts, includes time and space. The relationship between thoughts, time, and space is a very close and special relationship because without thoughts, time and space wouldn't exist. It is our thoughts that require them and that bring them into existence.

So, when necessary, play the part of the limited being, interact with the other seemingly limited beings to buy your groceries and pay your bills. See through the sham, see the life behind their eyes, but play the game. And, understand that to get ourselves to that gateway, the gateless gate to freedom, we can't look outside. We have to look inside, find a crack between two thoughts, and then crawl through that silence into the unconfined world where there can be no limits because there is nothing that you aren't.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Bringing Yoga To Life

I started reading Donna Farhi's Bringing Yoga To Life today, and especially liked this little bit from the first chapter:

It is through...Yoga that we learn how to contain and liberate our energy and ultimately direct it toward a more positive way of being.

And what is this more positive way of being? When we are in full command of our physical, mental, and emotional capacities and in complete possession of our self, we begin to live fearlessly and to open to new experiences, new possibilities, and new challenges. Then the energy that we may have previously squandered defending and fortifying a limited definition of self is mobilized to express our unique talents and abilities. These abilities can then be directed in such a way as to fulfill our personal destiny. We rise to the occasion, and the occasion is this life, right now, just as it is. Practicing Yoga does not eliminate life's challenges, and neither does it provide us with a convenient trap-door to escape from life's distractions. Instead, Yoga gives us the skills to meet life head-on with dignity and poise."

Bringing Yoga To Life: The Everyday Practice of Enlightened Living
Donna Farhi

There is so much packed into that paragraph that you could easily spend one day on each of the sentences, dismantling and thinking and looking at each one. I was half tempted to stay up all night and read the entire book to see how she addresses it all, but i won't because i want to read it slowly, savoring her thoughts as she slides them, morsel by morsel, across the pages in my direction. Based on that paragraph, this is going to be too good to devour without a thought.

A more positive way of being? Notice that she didn't focus on a more positive way of "speaking," or "acting," or "thinking." Being is, rightly so, her focus, for it is being that is the greatest gift we have and the one the vast majority of us so totally mess up. Most never stand still long enough to see that there is a difference between 'life' and 'busyness.'

When being is seen for what it is, you see that there is only being; not your being and my being and others' being. Being is. Period. And in that being, you are temporarily manifested and i am temporarily manifested. Being is both permanent and impermanent. Being is both everything that is, was, and ever will be — and it is nothing at all.

Why some people go to their grave saying "he who dies with the most toys wins," while others go to the same grave saying "he who dies didn't matter" is beyond my intellectual abilities, but i do know that it is the latter that truly understood what it meant to Be and manifested that in every single aspect of their lives.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Ultimate Medicine

"During your entire lifetime, you do not have any permanent identity. Whatever you consider yourself to be changes from moment to moment. Nothing is constant. ...

"If you really want to understand this, you must give up your identification with the body. By all means, make use of the body, but don't consider yourself to be the body while acting in this world. Identify yourself with the consciousness, which dwells in the body; with that identity, you should act in the world....

"So long as you identify yourself as the body, your experience of pain and sorrow will increase day by day. That is why you must give up this identification, and you should take yourself as the consciousness. If you take yourself as the body, it means you have forgotten your true Self... And sorrow results for the one who forgets himself. When the body falls, the principle which always remains is You. If you identify yourself with the body, you will feel that you are dying, but in reality there is no death because you are not the body. let the body be there or not be there, your existence is always there; it is eternal.

"Now who or what has heard my talk? It is not the ear, not the physical body, but that knowledge which is in the body; that has heard me. So identify yourself with the knowledge, that consciousness. Whatever happiness we enjoy in this world is only imaginary. The real happiness is to know your existence, which is apart from the body. You should never forget the real identity that you possess....

"One who is constantly awake in his true nature — having this knowledge about himself — is liberated."

The Ultimate Medicine
Nisargadatta Maharaj