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Archive for the ‘mindfulness’ Category

Four questions

Whenever you’re troubled by a particularly bothersome train of thought or feeling, or when you’re tempted to say or do something that you’re not sure about, put yourself through these four questions, or “gates,” which will help make you a real team player:

1. Is it truthful?
2. Is it helpful?
3. Is it kind?
4. What is my motivation and genuine intention here?

If you can say yes to each question – if you can pass through each gate – then go ahead. If not, stop and go no further. You do have the ability to control whether you stop or go, even in the deepest recesses of your mind.

Please don’t think you are powerless to do whatever is good for yourself as well as whatever is good for others. Remember: the two acts are one and the same.

– Buddha Is As Buddha Does by Lama Surya Das

A few thoughts on Stop Signs with its eight sides

1. Slow down
2. Pay attention
3. Look around
4. Pause
5. Look within
6. Breathe deeply
7. Appreciate
8. Move consciously

And so… the next time you see a Stop Sign, you may want to remember that you are in the act of receiving a very sacred message.


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By Ross Bolleter Roshi

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” When Michal, my composer friend from Slovakia, was driving me out from Bratislava to show me the eastern regions of this country, especially his birthplace Lengow, in the foothills of the High Tatras, he asked me a lot of questions about Zen and how to live it. I found his questions challenging – such questions always are – but their radical simplicity was far more confronting because I spoke no Slovak and he spoke just enough English for us to deal with practical matters and in a vague way to feel out the contours of each other’s lives.

Once he asked me, ‘What is Zen?’ and I replied that ‘the countryside looked splendid now that the sun had come up.’ As always after my responses to his questions he would remain thoughtfully silent, however, as we neared his home village he said, ‘I like the jokes in your religion, but I don’t think I would do the meditation.’ Sensing my disappointment, he went on, ‘But I would do Great Aunt Meditation’. ‘Well, what would that be?’ I asked doubtfully. ‘Great Aunt Meditation is chicken meditation. My great Aunt spends all afternoon in front of her fire. For hour after hour there she is in her chair, looking like she is asleep. But she knows where very chicken is and which way the wind is blowing and what loaf of rye bread the pantry mouse is munching.’ When we meditate we let the world be as it is; we let our heart just be. Then what is there can be, as W.A. Mathieu describes sounds as nourishment, holy food, and best friend. The plane roars through opening up your heart; you hum that old love song as you move from paying bills, to shopping to writing a difficult letter and the humming confirms it.

There is an old Taoist saying, ‘The hen can hatch her eggs because her heart is always listening.’ When we listen to hear another’s pain in their critical words, when we listen to our own pain when we are criticized, the depth of and warmth of our attending opens up the way for life to appear.

Later, in Lengow, I met Michal’s Great Aunt. She was frail, almost totally blind. Michal talked family with her in Slovak. She responded in rivers of Ruthenian. I listened in English. She plied me with Polish vodka. If you can’t understand at least you can drink! Michal asked me to explain Zen to her. I said, ‘Ask her if the birds are singing in her heart!’ Maybe he did, but she just poured me another vodka. As she laboured to get another log on the fire, Michal told me that it took her an-hour-and- a- half to get to church. ‘How far is the church?’ I asked for the village was tiny. ‘Oh about a hundred metres’, he said. ‘Is that because she is blind, because she can barely walk?’ ‘Yes. But mostly because she keeps stopping to enjoy what she can make out of the shadow and light. She picks up rocks and pebbles so she can feel them, talks to the dogs and cats, and to anyone she meet. It’s a long journey.


Ross Bolleter


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If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained.

If you are a good horseback rider, your mind can wander but you don’t fall off your horse. In the same way, whatever circumstances you encounter, if you are well trained in meditation, you don’t get swept away by emotions. Instead, they perk you up and your awareness increases.

Abandon any hope of fruition.

The key instruction is to stay in the present. Don’t get caught up in hopes of what you’ll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters.

Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end.

In the morning when you wake up, you reflect on the day ahead and aspire to use it to keep a wide-open heart and mind. At the end of the day, before going to sleep, you think over what you have done. If you fulfilled your aspiration, even once, rejoice in that. If you went against your aspiration, rejoice that you are able to see what you did and are no longer living in ignorance. This way you will be inspired to go forward with increasing clarity, confidence, and compassion in the days that follow.

Pema Chodron, Bite-Sized Buddhism, Tricycle Magazine

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Caroline Myss in Newsletter, explains why it’s better to focus on what you really love than to look back on your pain if you hope to experience the true power of healing.

( I have read Caroline Myss off and on for years, and for me it is and/both. . .Without the release from the blocks of the past our life force energy becomes contracted and we are not able to move into the natural flow with is our true life experience, being a therapist for a number of years i know the deep healing found in removing the blocks to love so that one can fully reside there.  I found this to be such a tender story.)

” Many insights and experiences ultimately inspire a person to write a book. Defy Gravity, my new book, grew out of my desire to share my observations about the nature of healing. In particular, I wanted to introduce something I have come to believe is absolutely true: Healing is ultimately a mystical experience and not one that is generated by the force or determination of the power of the mind. By “mystical,” I’m referring to experiences that require grace in order to transcend the barriers of our minds, which are so often weighed down by the need to know why things happen as they do in our lives.

The truth is that when it comes to life’s traumas or sufferings that are rooted in memories of humiliation, there are no logical reasons we were the recipients of undeserved suffering—certainly not ones that will satisfy us. We can search for years to understand why we were not as loved as we should have been or why we were abused but in the end we are still left feeling hurt. Those scars, it seems, never really go away. They don’t go away because they can’t. They are a part of us. They formed us. So rather than seek to do what is impossible, we must strive to do what is essential: True healing requires that we find a routebeyond our pain so it does not control us or cause us to want to punish or control others. It’s also true, however, that we cannot “think” our way through an act of inner transformation, which is exactly what I’m describing. This type of inner work demands we defeat our reasoning minds and enlist deeper resources within ourselves, namely the power of our souls. And getting in touch with that power is without a doubt an act of grace generously given to those who ask.

When it comes to matters of the soul and grace, healing and personal transformation, I realize we’ve shifted to more etheric subject matter. So it’s been my experience that grace as a force of healing is best illustrated through a true story, and this is one that hopefully will touch your heart as deeply as it did mine. I put this in the category of a mystical healing experience because of the effect the interchange had upon the daughter and upon me. Perhaps the grace of this story will pass on to you and you too will feel for a moment what it means to “defy gravity”—that is, to be fully present in the here and now of your life, dwelling on love and not regrets. And let me tell you ahead of time that as incredible as this story may seem, this is exactly what happened.

While on my recent book tour for Defy Gravity, I had lunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Philadelphia. Seated at the next table were a mother and daughter. I learned through the fine art of eavesdropping that the daughter had taken her mother out for lunch to celebrate her 92nd birthday. Even though the mother was all dressed up, she still reminded me of a lovely little hummingbird, so tiny and fragile. As is the case with most people in their 90s, they no longer initiate conversation. So it was her daughter who did most of the talking, and since the daughter and I were practically seated back-to-back, it was impossible not to hear her as she reminisced about people who had once filled their lives.
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“Well, those people were bad news, Mom. They weren’t really that nice to you,” said the daughter.


“Oh, I don’t remember that,” was the mother’s response as she kept her eyes on her lunch, reorganizing her salad with her fork. The subject changed to the mother’s sister, and though I couldn’t hear the details (as I really wasn’t eavesdropping in full gear—yet), I then heard the daughter say: “It’s true. Your sister was no angel.”


Hearing that comment, I glanced over at the mother to see her response.


“Funny, but I can’t recall those things,” said the lovely birthday hummingbird as she kept her eyes focused on her lunch. Her daughter then shifted the conversation to memories of her mother’s marriage to her father. Though I could not hear most of the specifics, it just happened that I heard her say: “Oh, Mom, I could tell you stories about Dad, believe me. You had a rough time with him.”


“I did?” the mom replied, never revealing her eyes. “I don’t remember.”


“You sure did.” And just as the daughter began to elaborate on those difficult times, this little hummingbird of a mother put down her fork and made direct eye contact with her daughter. With the most gentle smile on her face, she said: “I don’t want to remember those things anymore, Ann. Remind me, now, of what I loved. Remind me of what I loved about your father. I only want to be reminded of love.”


That line not only drew the breath out of her daughter; it completely captivated my attention. I sat perfectly still. I could actually feel the impact that request had upon the daughter’s heart. The mother had shot an arrow directly into the bitter wounds that were obviously possessing her daughter.

Now my eavesdropping on their intimate conversation was deliberate. I had to hear the daughter’s response. I had to watch her face as she grappled with her mother’s request to utilize her heart as a means to access memories of love she herself could no longer recall. It was obvious the daughter wanted to refuse her mother’s request, but how could she? This was her mother’s 92nd birthday. Saying no was not an option. I even found an excuse to adjust my chair so that I could observe the daughter’s expressions as she psychically allowed her mother’s well-worn heart to board her shattered heart in order to travel back in time. Sojourning into memories in search of love instead of pain was not something the daughter had anticipated. Love, after all, is the most healing of graces. She took a deep breath and with a much softer voice, she said, “Well, Mom,” then in a much softer tone of voice, “you loved the way Dad used to tease you.”


“I did?” the mother asked.


“Yes, you did. And he always gave you roses on your birthday, Mom. Today Dad would have given you a lovely bouquet of roses because you love roses,” the daughter said.


“Oh,” said the mother, her smile becoming more illuminated. “I think I remember that.”


“And you know that heart [necklace] you always wear, the one around your neck right now? Well, Dad surprised you with that on your 25th wedding anniversary,” the daughter said. The mother reached for the small gold heart around her neck, touching it gently with her fingers.


“No wonder I never want to take this off,” she said. Then, this exquisite little hummingbird of a mother noticed her daughter was wiping away tears from her eyes. She reached across the table for her daughter’s hand and said, “Honey, don’t wait until you’re my age to have to ask someone else to remind you of what you loved in your life. Be wise enough to remind yourself of that every day because someday those memories might just fade away like mine did and the memories I miss the most are about the people I know I loved.”


By this time, I was wiping away tears. As I watched this mother and daughter embrace, I recognized the healing handiwork of grace as only grace could so elegantly and silently transform a conversation filled with pain into one that lifted the weight from a daughter’s heart. Only the power of grace could transform a mother into the rare air of the Sage, gifting her daughter wisdom from her soul so powerful as to transform the whole of her life within the content of a couple of sentences.

This conversation captured the essence of what it means to “defy gravity.” In an instant, this daughter had released the weight of past wounds, replacing them with the healing force of wisdom and love. Ordinary words could never have accomplished such a feat. Healing is indeed a mystical experience, and one never knows when grace will come to call. I left that lunch having imprinted the request of that precious 92-year-old woman into my heart: Remind me of what I love. What could be a more splendid prayer of reflection than that? And what a gift they were to me on my book tour. I will always believe that being seated next to them was no accident.

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“On a more somber note, Raphaele once told me of a meeting she’d had on her first visit to Tibet, in 1986, with a man who’d had an appalling time during the Chinese invasion. “He invited me to sit down on a bench and served me some tea he kept in a large thermos. It was his first time talking to a Westerner. We laughed a lot; he was really adorable. Children kept coming by to stare at us in astonishment, and he showered me with questions. Then he told me how he’d been jailed for twelve years by the Chinese invaders and condemned to cut stone for a dam being built in the Drak Yerpa valley. The dam was completely useless, since the riverbed was almost always dry! All his friends dropped dead of hunger and exhaustion around him, one by one. Despite the horror of his story, there wasn’t the slightest trace of hatred in his words or the least bit of resentment in his eyes, which beamed with kindness. As I fell asleep that night, I wondered how a man who had suffered so much could seem so happy.”

“Anyone who enjoys inner peace is no more broken by failure than he is inflated by success. He is able to fully live his experiences in the context of a vast and profound serenity, since he understands that experiences are ephemeral and that it is useless to cling to them. There will be no “hard fall” when things turn bad and he is confronted with adversity. He does not sink into depression, since his happiness rests on a solid foundation. One year before her death at Auschwitz, the remarkable Etty Hillesum, a young Dutchwoman, affirmed: “When you have an interior life, it certainly doesn’t matter what side of the prison you’re on. . . . I’ve already died a thousand times in a thousand concentration camps. I know everything. There is no new information to trouble me. One way or another, I already know everything, and yet, I find this life beautiful and rich in meaning. At every moment.”

Matthieau Richard

From Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skills,

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one day the heart was heavy. . . . the chambers constricted. . . .beating like
a swan running on tangled sod. . . . concerned about some unborn thing. . .
. a constriction of the knotted heart with no thoughts of flight. . . the noise of the mind
entangled and blocked by weeds. . . . till there was no room to move . . . i fluttered
without gracefulness to the center of the lake, which humans call silence. . . . then. . . .
peace  found  in the underside of tired wings that rested on the lake. . . . while the heart
in it’s feathers pounded softer and softer. . . . and i surrendered into the One that is
always present and able to bear the totality of all heaviness and all heaven. . . . .
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If you hear the word mindfulness and fail to translate it as heartfulness, you don’t get it.

John Cabot Zin

NOW— This is it— The Whole Purpose and Meaning for the Existence of Everything.

Timothy Freke

From the Color Purple

” I Believe God is everything. . . Everything that is or ever was or ever will be. And when you can feel that , and be happy to feel that, you’ve found IT. . . My first step from the old white man was trees. Then air. Then birds. Then other people. But one day i was sitting quiet and feeling like a motherless child, which I was, it came to me: that feeling of being part of everything, not separated at all. I knew hat if i cut a tree, my arm would bleed. And i laughed and I cried and i run all round the house. I knew just what it was. In fact, when it happened, you can’t miss it.

Alice Walker

Look at you you madman, screaming you are thirsty. And are dying in a desert when all around you there is nothing but water.

Kabir

You wander from room to room, hunting for the diamond necklace.

That is already around your neck!

Rumi

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods.
There is a rapture on the lonely shore.
There is society where none intrudes.
By the deep sea, and music in its roar,
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these interviews in which i steal
From all I may be, or haven been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yest cannot conceal.
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Lord Byron

The true form is magnificently illuminated with gleaming. The teaching’s voice is total silence amid the ringing of wind chimes. The moon harp in the old pine trees, cold in the falling night. The chilled crane in its nest in the clouds has not yet aroused from its dream.

Hongzhi Zhengjune (1091-1157)


Every thought in consciousness has been born into form, a temporary form and then it dies and goes on to another form. You could say the whole world is consciousness having taken birth in form, manifesting as form temporarily and then dying which means dissolving as form. What always remains is the “essence of all that exists- consciousness itself”.

Eckhart Tolle

And for no reason i start skipping like a child

And for no reason I turn into a leaf, there is carried so high, I kiss the sun’s mouth and dissolve.

And for no reason a thousand birds choose my head for a conference table,start passing their eyes of wine. And their wild songbooks all around.

And for every reason in existence, I begin to externally, to externally laugh and love!

When I turn into a leaf, and start dancing, I run to kiss our beautiful Friend. That I Am.

Hafiz translated by Ladinsky

The great mystery is not that we should have been thrown down there at random between the profusion of matter and that of the stars, it is that from our very prison we should draw, from our own selves, images powerful enough to deny our nothingness. Audre Malraux

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