Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Crooked Path

I have three reasons for creating and writing this blog. I am using it to make a map of my Path with Heart so that seemingly unrelated insights (pieces to a puzzle) can be seen in one place and possibly lead to epiphanies, or solved puzzles. Although completely unnecessary once knowledge becomes Wisdom, it could also be interesting to look back at my journey and relive some of the wonderful moments. Secondly, I have always been a teacher of something and hope that this "map" of my Path might help another to some day solve a "puzzle" and gain this universal Wisdom a little faster. Then lastly, I pray that some who are yet to Awaken, might find that spark within my writings that leads to their Awakening and subsequent Path with Heart. Now, after seventy-plus posts, I feel it is necessary to clarify something that most teachings from the Masters rarely do. Your Path with Heart will never be a straight line from Awakened to Enlightened to One with True Nature, Source, Self, God, et al. I write about the Way we are supposed to be so most of my posts are about being on my Path. This is the ideal and is what I have devoted my life to doing. It is not easy and requires complete dedication, however, the ever-increasing time I spend on It is absolutely the most worthwhile and rewarding time I could ever spend!

This topic came to mind a few days ago when I veered far from my calm Center in the Present to a state of Ego-stricken, raging anger. One thing common among All who are truly on their Path with Heart is Compassiom to the point of Empathy - our True Nature. With this in mind, I lost my balance when confronted by two fools protesting healthcare reform and depicting President Obama as Hitler, mustache and all. I had planned to ignore them and walk straight from my truck into the Post Office, get my mail, and then exit the same way. Plans work so well when morons stay out of your way but this was not one of those occasions. One of them came at me with a handful of something I did not want to see and I departed my Path with Heart at full warp speed! I was spitting fire the instant I felt his intention and said something about nuts, heads on poles in the town square, or something to that effect. Regrettably, a very old feeling came over me and for a moment, I was kind of hoping he would make a move. So much for Love and Compassion! Fortunately, he backed up much faster than he approached and his partner sat down the instant I looked through him. I got my mail but still let my Ego take charge as I started out the door. I was much nicer this time, though, and just said something about a waste of space or good air, or something like that. I left quickly but didn't really "leave" for quite some time. This is extremely rare for me and is always a great lesson in how to be a fool. I allowed my Ego to interfere with a perfectly beautiful day in paradise just like it did the first day it arose to consciousness in the mythological "Garden of Eden". The Ego has been the sole source of All bad and Evil, pain and suffering, and keeps us separated from our True Nature or Source to this day. However, Ego is not the focus of my post here but just the underlying cause.

I am writing this to make sure that everyone who reads my posts knows that although I have gained much Wisdom over the last thirty-some Awakened years, my Path with Heart is still crooked. It is far less crooked than most but far more crooked than many other devoted practitioners. The whole point that All of the great Sages throughout history were making in their various teachings of the "OneTruth" is to permantly remove yourself from the chaos of Karma by living without thought and completely in the mindful Present. To make it sound even simpler, just "Be"! That one word sums up All of the great teachings of Jesus, Lao-tse, Buddha, Krishnamurti, don Juan, et al. In fact, Jesus is referred to as the great "I Am" *! You must also be Compassionate and respectful to others and all living things but when you are living completely in the Present, there is no other way you can be. The reason it takes so many words to teach this is that getting to that state of impeccable Being is literally the most difficult thing in the universe. However, once you understand the mission (Awaken), you can begin to shrink your Ego, teach it to sit quietly "next to" you on the passenger's seat, and just observe the magificent view while our Source drives the bus of life. This is done through dedicated daily and lifelong practice of being in the Present through various types of meditation, mindful movements such as Tai Chi, or any number of similar paths. The more you are able to let go of this illusion of control by just Being in the Present, the easier and more natural it gets. It is these times in the Present that you are One of Mind, Body, and Spirit where only Altruistic Love, Compassion, Beauty and Joy beyond description, exist as One with your Infinite and Quantum True Nature. The other time is spent amongst the rat race of Ego-driven thought and illusion. This is when you leave your Path with Heart like I did that day at the Post Office. We All do it in an infinite variety of ways from committing mass murder to simply having a conscious thought interfere with the silence of the moment. Most of your time will be spent outside of the Present but over time, it will become less and less as long as you always stay mindful of your Path and continually correct your course by relaxing back into the Present. With continual practice and dedication, your Path with Heart, as mine, will become less crooked while the Magic of your infinitely Powerful and Loving True Nature envelopes you more and more in the ineffable Bliss and Comfort of our Source, our Home.


* God, who reveals his name as "I AM", reveals himself as the God who is always there, present to his people in order to save them.

"When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will realize that "I AM"."
~ Jesus

An abstraction in the mind of the Stateless State, of the Absolute, or the Supreme Reality, called Parabrahman. It is pure awareness, prior to thoughts, free from perceptions, associations, memories.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

What Does It Mean to Be " Spiritually Awakened"?

I have been hearing this term a lot lately being used to describe one's state of spiritual progress. When properly understood, it represents a critical turning point in one's path toward understanding who we are and why we are here. Various spiritual texts over the centuries quantify the Awakened as typically representing approximately 9.99% of the earth's population at any one point in time. The vast majority of people, about 90%, are Asleep and completely oblivious to their True Nature. Churches, especially Christian, are the source of their spiritual knowledge and no one can tell them, or their "teachers" anything different. I have tried many times but they just can not "see" anything beyond the superficial, "feel-good", teachings of their church. I know this is just the way things work but I want these people to know what they are missing. This is the one frustration, attachment, that I continue to have today and must eventually come to terms with before I can fully accept everything as it is. I believe that I have this problem because I like answers, I need answers, and this impenetrable state, called Asleep, defies all logic. However, for now, I will move past my problem and zero in on this state called Awakened.

Awakening is not a gradual event in your life nor is it an event you could overlook or be mistaken about it. It seems that one day you are just a part of the crowd blindly following everyone else because surely they know where they are going. Anyway, most of these people like you are just too caught up in every day life making money, spending money, "sinning" like crazy, and going to church on Sundays because they do not want to be left behind when "the end" comes - or something like that. Materialism is the name of the game and your Egos are in this game "to win". Then one day all of this changes! You have this strange feeling in your gut and suddenly all of these people, the aforementioned crowd, look like they are lost and do not know what they are doing or where they are going. The stuff they are teaching in church just does not make any sense anymore. At least that part about just believing in Jesus and hocus-pocus, 1- 2 - 3, everyone goes to Heaven. Nah, it can not be that simple! No sir, it has a real gut-feeling of just scratching the surface and you know there must be more to this God, Jesus, and Heaven business. So you decide to look at your Bible again and read what Jesus said. Well, now his teachings are saying something completely different than the last time you read them. In fact, you have this new feeling of excitement about his words. You can feel this truthful ring in your gut and you know this is something very important. You might go to a book store and start looking through some books on spirituality. Maybe you pick up the "Tao Te Ching by Lao-tse or "The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma" and in a short time, you feel the connection, the sameness, between these great teachings and the words of Jesus. Now this is when you go "nuts" looking for more books, more ancient teachings, more, more, more....! You are Awake my friend and you have never felt more alive!

Awakening is really far more exciting, far more experienced or "felt", so much so that no words I write here could ever come close to describing your spiritual Awakening! There is much more to it than this brief description but there are certain aspects that clearly separate the Awakened from the Asleep. Here is a short but absolute list:

- You know that God is not Judging you because IT is our objective Source, Self, Tao, True Nature, et al, and does not Do anything.

- You know that Jesus was just a man who Awakened just like you, eventually overcame this world, and came back here to show us "The Way" to do the same thing. He is not the only one to do so either. He is very clear about this.

- You know that this "One Truth" has nothing to do with any particular religion, has been taught in every culture throughout history, passed down by word of mouth, by ancient texts, and still runs at the core of all of the great religions of today.

- You see it and feel it everywhere in Nature and experience this "connection" with everyone and everything.

- Whenever you see pain and suffering, you FEEL it at your very core! This is Compassion!

- Whenever you see joy, love, kindness, or good fortune, you Feel it too! This is Altruistic Love!

- Material things have lost their importance except when giving them to someone in need.

- You see the significance, the beauty, and the wonder not only in the universe of the macro, but maybe even more so in the universe of the micro.

There are so many more but by knowing these, you will know by listening to others whether they are truly Awakened, or just following a "new crowd". In Zen, there are basically only two roads that lead to the path (Awakening): Reason and Practice. Hard-headed me had to die twice and experience the four all-inclusive! I know this is probably the main way but I hope no one has to practice like I did......and still do. Awakening is beyond incredible but it is just the beginning of your journey. Just wait until you experience your Path with Heart!! Here is a tiny example of what I experience being One with my Path. After I do my seated Kenpo exercises, I practice imagery, visualization of and interacting with my energy, or chi. I always do this exercise in silence but tonight I had my station playing on the computer in my office. The very instant my intent was to start my energy work, the music stopped! I immediately knew it was a blessing but had no idea, technically, why the music stopped at that exact instant. I have an idea now why the music stopped but it has absolutely nothing to do with the timing. I lost count of these wonderful blessings many years ago but I always take pause to recognize them and say Thank You! Those of you who are truly Awakened, welcome to the great journey! To everyone else, if this meant anything to you, then maybe your Awakening is coming soon. I hope so! I also sincerely pray for everyone to Awaken so please open your minds and maybe something you read or experience will be the spark that does it.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Little Buddha Walking - Zen Walking Meditation

This is a very useful article from Zen Moments that can help everyone to get in touch with their body (mindfulness) and learn how to be Present while moving through their day. I have been doing something similar to this for years after every Tai Chi session and it helps me to continue and increase that blissful and energetic state of Being for much longer - sometimes for hours. Anyone can do this and the more you do, the easier it is to do. In time, you will find yourself naturally entering this Present state without even trying. Now, how cool is that?!! Enjoy!


Little Buddha Walking

Have you ever looked into the eyes of an infant and felt that you could jump in and go for a swim? They are so open and inviting it's almost unnerving.

You can't help but wonder how they see life; that somehow they experience a magical world beyond your vision.

Why do we feel that? It isn't logical. If you couldn't walk or feed yourself; if you were incontinent; if all you could do was roll over in bed; if you had no ability to speak or even think in rational verbal terms — wouldn't you be considered disabled?

Why then are we so quietly envious of these little people? What magic do we sense in them? Does Buddha swim in the depths of those liquid eyes?

Perhaps there is a Buddha consciousness in these 6 month old, uninhibited, sometimes serene, often demanding, easily fascinated, bed-wetting bundles of joy. Why not?

Life is strange. Is it such a stretch that infants, despite all of their outward limitations, process abilities of perception we wish we had?

And since their limitations primarily set them apart from us, could it be that these limitations are their causative Buddha-factor?
The silent advantage of infants

Infants perceive their world in each moment, fully, deeply, and without bias. Us big people on the other hand, experience a verbal-thought-summation of what we see in the moment based on pre-established judgments. Adults perceive life through a template of fixed, albeit slowly changing, definitions. Infants have no template blocking their vision.

One of the reasons for this is that infants have no verbal language associated with their thought and perception.

Think for a moment about this vast mysterious world. Try to use all of your imagination to probe the depth and reach of its content. It's impossible. And yet, we allow words to define our experience of it.

Can you imagine what it might be like to have no words entering your mind as you perceive and think about your world? How would that change your world-view?

Also, because everything is new to them, infants judge less. They haven't yet acquired the experience to know what to accept and what to reject. How would it change your life if you could selectively suspend judgment to facilitate a more dynamic view of circumstance?

Science Daily recently featured the research of Lisa Scott, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. The articles reported her findings on the perceptual development of infants. Of infants 6 months or under, Lisa says, "During this time the brain is sensitive and responsive to the surrounding environment."

But after 6 months of age, Scott concludes, "what is most intriguing about these findings is that they collectively suggest that typical perceptual specialization and development is characterized by the gradual decline of abilities."

Scott is suggesting that we loose our dynamic responsiveness to the world after 6 months of age, in preference for a selective focus on the essential elements of survival and satisfaction.

In the Association for Psychological Science, an article titled, New study shows that infants have mind-reading capability describes the work of Luca Surian, a psychologist at the University of Trento in Italy.

Luca's research is primarily concerned with the ability to reason about the mind. According to the article in APS, his findings indicate that psychological reasoning skills enabling us to predict another's behavior are in place in infants, independent of environmental or learned behavior. Surian explains that, "this is mind reading proper, however rudimentary."

Is it possible that infants have perceptual and intuitive abilities, and that we have lost some of those attributes? It appears so. Can we reclaim them? The research isn't clear on that, so perhaps the best way to explore this is experientially.

Here then is one of my favorite, definitely fun, meditation techniques, that will always connect you to that pure awareness and fascination of an infant.
Little Buddha Walking meditation

It is not as silly as it sounds. Outwardly, you will be going for a simple stroll, but inwardly you will be having an immersive experience. No one will notice your mental gymnastics.

Your own little Buddha will constantly challenge you, but you will find this exercise easier than standard meditation training. Anyone can master this after a few attempts. Even if you have never had an interest in meditation, this enjoyable exercise will teach you some rather advanced core meditative skills.

Try your best to follow the steps below:

1. Pick a time when you are in a calm and neutral state of mind. Plan a 20 minute solitary walking route where there is no chance that people will engage you in conversation.

2. Your goal on this walk is to avoid thinking in words, and other than safety-related concerns, to avoid conscious judgments. Remember that you are now an infant, albeit, an infant that can walk. This can be challenging so you are going to have be vigilantly self-aware.

3. As you walk, observe everything you see. Soak it all in without labeling. When you catch yourself thinking in words, let them go and get back to being present in your body.

4. Take in all the sights, colors, and smells; feel the air on your skin; how your feet strike the ground and move you forward. Listen intently to every sound. Let your environment wash through you. Become part of your surroundings.

5. Allow yourself to experience fascination and awe. Give yourself permission to explore your surroundings deeply without the usual "seen this, done that" judgment.

6. When you arrive home, spend 5 minutes or so enjoying a comfortable chair. Like a fine tea, allow your experience to steep and mature into your mind and body. Now you can go about your day, and your inner Buddha will be there with you.

That wasn't so bad was it? Don't be fooled by its simplicity though. This is a powerful practice that just so happens to feel exquisite.

Have you ever wondered what awareness precedes your verbal thoughts?

The words could not have arisen first. They merely describe your mind's creation. What then comes before the words? Can you recall?

Your moments of genius, and everyone has them, occur before you put words to your mental creations. If you cannot recall that process, then you are not consciously present, or in control of, your genius.

The creative moments of infants are different though. Because they have no words to freeze-frame and define their creative process, thereby stopping it cold, they remain continually present within it.

Your adult verbal thoughts are mostly pointless interruptions to your true creative processes. Pay close attention to your thoughts and you will realize this. Every time you refrain from thinking in words, your creative ability becomes more open-ended and less fixed, and your appreciation of life deepens.

You have the right to choose how you think and create, and how you experience your world. The Little Buddha Walking meditation gives you that choice.

Pardon the pun, but words cannot describe how this walking meditation technique will make you feel. Try it a few times. Give it your full attention and you will enter a new and fresh world of perception, creativity, and satisfaction.

What do you think? Will you try it?

Over to you now.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma left India and went to the Shaolin Temple in Henan Province, China sometime in the 5th century CE. He is also known in China as Da Mo who played a critical and pivotal role in the history of Chinese martial arts. It is said that after seeing the Shaolin monks in terrible physical condition from constant meditation, he went to a cave up above the temple to meditate in hope of finding a solution to their problem. He stayed in that cave for years until he came up with a system of exercises which he taught to the Shaolin monks. These exercises, called the Eighteen Hands of the Lohan (Buddha), were designed to cultivate and nurture our internal energy, or chi, and are considered to be the origin of Shaolin Kung Fu. It was also at this temple that historians claim Zen* was established by Bodhidharma. There is no doubt that this form of Mahāyāna Buddhism, Chan Buddhism, and ancient Taoism are representations of the same One Truth. It is for this reason that I wanted to present this outline of Zen here to further show how this One Truth can be found everywhere in the world and throughout the history of mankind. Karma and therefore Destiny are also clearly demonstrated in these ancient teachings and add support to my earlier posts here on the subject of Karma.

Additionally, of great importance to me, my Path with Heart is explained in detail as the Path of practice. This is incredible because it is the ultimate Agreement that validates my entire way of life and fully supports my total dedication to my Path with Heart!! This Path describes my life, my Path, for the last thirty-four years exactly as it has been and continues to be to this day. I am living the four all-inclusive practices!! What a blessing it is to find these ancient teachings by the founding Master of Zen Buddhism that mirror my life experience!!!

Note: Be sure to click the several links within this Outline for much greater detail and the very interesting historical material. Enjoy!


The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma

~ Translated by Red Pine 1987

Outline of Practice

Many roads lead to the Path, but basically there are only two: reason and practice. To enter by reason means to realize the essence through instruction and to believe that all living things share the same true nature, which isn't apparent because it's shrouded by sensation and delusion. Those who turn from delusion back to reality, who meditate on walls,' the absence of self and other, the oneness of mortal and sage, and who remain unmoved even by scriptures are in complete and unspoken agreement with reason. Without moving, without effort, they enter, we say, by reason.

To enter by practice refers to four all-inclusive practices: Suffering injustice, adapting to conditions, seeking nothing, and practicing the Dharma
*. First, suffering injustice. When those who search for the Path encounter adversity, they should think to themselves, "In Countless ages gone by, I've turned from the essential to the trivial and wandered through all manner of existence, often angry without cause and guilty of numberless transgressions.

Now, though I do no wrong, I'm punished by my past. Neither gods nor men can foresee when an evil deed will bear its fruit. I accept it with an open heart and without complaint of injustice. The sutras
* say " when you meet with adversity don't be upset because it makes sense." With such understanding you're in harmony with reason. And by suffering injustice you enter the Path. Second, adapting to conditions. As mortals, we're ruled by conditions, not by ourselves. All the suffering and joy we experience depend on conditions. If we should be blessed by some great reward, such as fame or fortune, it's the fruit of a seed planted by us in the past. When conditions change, it ends. Why delight In Its existence? But while success and failure depend on conditions, the mind neither waxes nor wanes. Those who remain unmoved by the wind of joy silently follow the Path.

Third, seeking nothing. People of this world are deluded. They're always longing for something-always, in a word, seeking. But the wise wake up. They choose reason over custom. They fix their minds on the sublime and let their bodies change with the seasons. All phenomena are empty. They contain nothing worth desiring. Calamity forever alternates with Prosperity! To dwell in the three realms is to dwell in a burning house. To have a body is to suffer. Does anyone with a body know peace? Those who understand this detach themselves from all that exists and stop Imagining or seeking anything. The sutras say, "To seek is to suffer.

To seek nothing is bliss." When you seek nothing, you're on the Path. Fourth, practicing the Dharma.' The Dharma is the truth that all natures are pure. By this truth, all appearances are empty. Defilement and attachment, subject and object don't exist. The sutras say, "The Dharma includes no being because it's free from the impurity of being, and the Dharma includes no self because it's free from the impurity of self." Those wise enough to believe and understand these truths are bound to practice according to the Dharma. And since that which is real includes nothing worth begrudging, they give their body, life, and property in charity, without regret, without the vanity of giver, gift, or recipient, and without bias or attachment. And to eliminate impurity they teach others, but without becoming attached to form. Thus, through their own practice they're able to help others and glorify the Way of Enlightenment. And as with charity, they also practice the other virtues. But while practicing the six virtues to eliminate delusion, they practice nothing at all. This is what's meant by practicing the Dharma.

*Zen is a school of Mahāyāna Buddhism, translated from the Chinese word Chán. Chán is itself derived from the Sanskrit Dhyāna, which means "meditation". The entry of Buddhism into China was marked by interaction and syncretism, with Taoism in particular. Originally seen as a kind of "foreign Taoism", Buddhism's scriptures were translated into Chinese using the Taoist vocabulary. Chan Buddhism was particularly modified by Taoism, integrating distrust of scripture, text and even language, as well as the Taoist views of embracing "this life", dedicated practice and the "every-moment". The establishment of Zen is traditionally credited to be in China, the Shaolin temple, by the Southern Indian Pallava prince-turned-monk Bodhidharma, who is recorded as having come to China to teach a "special transmission outside scriptures" which "did not stand upon words". The emergence of Zen as a distinct school of Buddhism was first documented in China in the 7th century CE. It is thought to have developed as an amalgam of various currents in Mahāyāna Buddhist thought—among them the Yogācāra and Madhyamaka philosophies and the Prajñāpāramitā literature—and of local traditions in China, particularly Taoism and Huáyán Buddhism. From China, Zen subsequently spread southwards to Vietnam and eastwards to Korea and Japan.

* Dharma (Sanskrit): Law, truth, reality, teaching; thing, or being, esp. when spelled with a small 'd' (dharma).

* Sutra (Sanskrit). Scripture.

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