Mindfulness is Not From Mars

When I bring up mindfulness, many of my friends look at me like I just disclosed being from Mars. The fact is, however, we are reminded to be present and pay attention (the essence of mindfulness) throughout our lives:

Pay attention in class… Look at me when I’m talking to you… Don’t be texting while driving or talking to someone… Stop and smell the roses…

Mindfulness is not new. Calling it mindfulness, and acknowledging its importance, is the only thing new about it.

The Free Mind

I think that a mind that has achieved emptiness and stillness, an entirely feminine state, must be completely free. There are no passions, needs, obsessions, preoccupations…- nothing tying it down, BINDING it, to any moment, any place, or any thing.

Such a mind is free to rise above the moment, the day, month, or one’s lifespan, and perceive forward and backward in time. It is free to assume the perspective of an object, another person, another group, all of mankind, or the entire world. Such a mind is free to accept anything, be anything, do anything, without worry of Self or self-interest.

Thinking on this, I believe a Free Mind such as this, at least to SOME extent, might be a prerequisite of true, utterly selfless, love.

Passionless AND Present

Ever passionless, thereby observe the subtle.
Ever intent, thereby observe the apparent.

In my own pursuit of enlightenment, these lines from the Tao Te Ching have been key to me. I have taken these lines to mean that the passionless state, in which I can observe the subtle, was the preferred one (which is perhaps correct). However, I have long thought that the way to be passionless was to be UNinvolved in each moment- to be detached and observing as from above.

As I learn more about mindfulness lately, discovering its true meaning and implications, I have come to understand that being fully present in the moment IS the path to a passionless state. Rather than being incompatible, I see that the two are wrapped up in each other- being passionless helps me be fully present, and being fully present helps me to be passionless.

Expectations Block Love

I have been thinking about love some more the last few days. I have been looking at the differences between the love I described in my last post (the love I have for my child in the first couple years of their life) and the love I have for an adult. The difference is that one is selfless, the other is tainted by the Self. Continue reading

Prevent Great Deeds

I’ve been thinking about a Taoist principle lately…

Conflict is costly and destructive… Which is better- a man who gains victory in conflict, or the peacemaker who calms a conflict before it becomes heated? … Which is better – such a peacemaker, or the man who abandons a selfish want or ambition so that contention is never given spark?

A great tree can grow from a seed… Which is better – the man who cuts down a great tree that stands in the way, or the one who transplants the tree to a more suitable location? … Which is better – the man who transplants the great tree, or the man who ensures the seed is planted in the right place to begin with?

Addiction will ruin a person’s life and bring them to their knees… Which is better – the therapist who cures a person of addiction, or the police officer who imprisons the drug dealer who sells the drugs? … Which is better – the police officer who stops the flow of drugs, or one who listens and cares for a troubled youth, preventing them from seeking drugs or crime as a solution?

I see that when there are great deeds, it is because there is a dysfunction somewhere. If there are no great deeds, everything has returned to the Way.

‘Inspiration’ and ‘Treasure’ are Synonyms

A letter from Zhuge Liang (a great figure in Chinese military history) to his nephew. I read this in my teens and committed it to memory. It has been a treasure to me that I love to show and share with everyone.

Aspirations should remain lofty and far-sighted. Look to the precedents of the wise. Detach from emotions and desires; get rid of any fixations. Elevate subtle feelings to presence of mind and sympathetic sense. Be patient in tight situations as well as easy one; eliminate all pettiness.

Seek knowledge be questioning widely; set aside aversion and reluctance. What loss is there in dignity, what worry is there of failure?

If your will is not strong, if your thought does not oppose injustice, you will fritter away your life stuck in the commonplace, silently submitting to the bonds of emotion, forever cowering before mediocrities, never escaping the downward flow.

Another letter he wrote to his son reads:

The practice of a cultivated man is to refine himself by quietude and develop virtue by frugality. Without detachment, there is no way to clarify the will; without serenity, there is no way to get far.

Study requires calm, talent requires study. Without study there is no way to expand talent; without calm there is no way to accomplish study.

If you are lazy, you cannot do thorough research; if you are impulsive, you cannot govern your nature.

The years run off with the hours, aspirations flee with the years. Eventually one ages and collapses. What good will it do to lament over poverty?

Now that I am reading these again, I come to realize that these two ancient pieces of writing are possibly the two largest influences on my current thought and direction. I read these before I read the Tao Teh Ching, but the Taoist influences are quite apparent to me now.

I read them, in the form above, in a book called Mastering the Art of War. My intentions were less than noble in reading such books, but the result, now, later in life, has been the complete opposite of what I had intended.

Truth has gravity- even just the reflection of it, in something unrelated, has a pull, and rings clear. I read the Tao Teh Ching and I Ching because of the apparent truth in their principles as mentioned in these books about the conduct of war. The Art of War, Mastering the Art of War, books influenced by Taoism… Reading eastern books about war has led me down a path of peace.

An article about Zhuge Liang can be found here.

I See an Image of Beauty Over There

The only two things life promises are suffering and death…

Suffering is the default mode of human life. It is a motivation to act for our survival, and, indirectly, the survival of our species. If I do not act to ensure my survival, or someone does not act on my behalf, I can be assured that I will experience some suffering and die a physical death. On a social level, if one did not suffer the longing/need to mate, our species would die off.

Pleasure is something which must be sought after/attained…

When I do something which I perceive as supporting and furthering my survival, I am rewarded with pleasure. This is both reward and reinforcement by my unconscious for my behaviors which support my overall need to survive, and the survival of my species.

In my model of the human experience, I have been looking at reducing and shedding perceived needs. I have also been looking at economy and simplicity- stopping when I have enough. When left with just my basic needs, satisfaction becomes easier to attain, and my suffering is easier to end. This makes it easier to free my mind to achieve higher consciousness.

I have been reading some Buddhist blogs, and one gentleman referred to 4 Noble Truths, the point of which seem to be that suffering can be overcome by shedding attachments/mental associations. Overcoming suffering completely is an intriguing idea. He shared the Four Noble Truths, the fourth of which was:

There is a Way, the Eightfold Path, which leads us to overcome suffering forever.

Am I reading this right? There is a path which ultimately leads to the end of suffering, I just need to shed my attachments? So, changing my attitudes/attachments to even basic needs will end the suffering caused by their not being met?

It just seems counter-intuitive. Still, it is something worth exploring. I’ve noticed that although my thinking, and this model I’m working on, are largely based on Taoist principles, there are some parallels to Buddhism (from what I’ve glanced over so far). I tend to shy away from anything mystical nowadays, and anything not founded on reason (not referring to Buddhism), so I haven’t dived too much into Buddhist teachings. Maybe I should rethink that.

I have certainly discovered fountains of beauty, truth, and poetry in (apparently) Buddhist individuals I am reading. Maybe I will find one great waterfall of beauty and truth in the writings of Buddhism itself.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

Cleanliness is next to Godliness.

I’ve been thinking about this phrase the last couple days. It’s source doesn’t seem to be certain. I personally have associated it with Christians, although I am not sure why. Some say it can be traced back to ancient Hebrew writings.

A big part of my journey, and my personal belief system, has to do with cutting through the illusions and deceptions of my (western) world. As I learn more about how and why things (including myself) work, increasing my understanding, the more of my ‘Self’ (my perceived needs, values, prejudices, etc.) I shed. This is part of what I am talking about when I refer to ‘Return’ as one side of an aspect of the human experience.

I have noticed that as this process takes place, the more I revert/return to being a person that might be called ‘good’, and the more my thoughts and actions are in line with common moral teachings of the major religions.

This process of shedding my ‘Self’, and unlearning, might be like cleaning myself up. I have been removing the stains (some of them very tough) of values and beliefs that have been drilled into me, through various channels, since I was a child. Some of these values, ideas, and ‘needs’ don’t actually serve me, let alone the community. They are selfish, divisive, materialistic, vain… They are dirt.

To paraphrase St. Paul (not that I am a Christian), I won’t be conformed to this world, but be renewed (made like new again) by the transforming of my mind. I will return to my natural/original state, perhaps created in God’s image, and perhaps intended to walk in the same manner as He walked.

In other words, as I clean myself up, removing the stains I have acquired from my/this western world, perhaps I will emulate Jesus in my own humble way, and be next to Godly

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Whoever Jesus was, He was like water. He was good to all, expressing and doing love. The Tao Teh Ching (chapter 8) says that higher good is like water- the good in it benefits all, and it can be found in lowest of places, where people dislike to be. As I make my own humble journey in this direction, I hope to emulate water- clear, yielding, noncontentious, and good to all. Having said that, I will also say that I hope to emulate Him (Jesus), in my own less-than-perfect way.

Jesus’ unconditional love, keeping company with, and guiding, even the lowest of His society (tax collectors, prostitutes, etc.), placing Himself in harm’s way for others, not clinging to worldly wealth, serving others… I could go on. These are all attributes of someone who has no self, but who instead has an existence and purpose that transcends his individual life. It makes me think of someone who has achieved enlightenment and Oneness- the ultimate result of the Return.

Truly if Jesus had the consciousness of God (you can’t get any higher of a consciousness), total perception, knowledge, and understanding, then His ‘Return’ would be complete- His enlightenment would be complete, and He would be indistinguishable from the the Divine (…maybe that statement is redundant… or maybe that’s how some recognized Him to be Divine).

I have observed many parallels between the walk and attitudes of the Taoist sage, and the Christian path. I think If I were to substitute the word ‘heaven’ for ‘God’ in the Tao Teh Ching, it would be hard to distinguish the practical teachings of the Bible and that Taoist text.

I am off on a tangent here, just rambling on, thinking out loud/in typed word… Any thoughts, regardless of how religious or Christian they might be, would be welcome. Jesus’ qualities, and description as Divine, as example of the ultimate result of Return, is an idea I intend to explore.

Truth Has Gravity

Truth has gravity- the more of it that collects in one place, the greater the force with which it draws me in.

Ultimate truth is the epitome of understanding. It is the ‘gravity’ of truth that causes the Return. That’s why I have put ‘Return’ after ‘Understanding’ in the eight aspects of (my) human experience- Return to the Way/Divine/Natural becomes more and more inescapable the more truth I uncover through Understanding.