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.

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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.