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People next to a huge fire at nightIn our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

DREAM

I’m in an arena of sorts, sitting next to an ex-boyfriend who died last year. Several of my other friends are there, too. Soldiers come in and take over, and one hits Andy (my ex) with the butt of his gun. Some of us are allowed to go to the nursery to check on our children. I can’t find my daughter, Meghan (I don’t have a daughter named Meghan).

We’re allowed to get food, so I go get chocolate donuts for a few of us. A few of us manage to escape—it’s night, my friend Becky is with my son’s aide Jeff and we hitch a ride in a carriage with a sidecar that I’m stuck riding in.

We get to a house where many people are hiding, but they tell us we can’t stay. We’re in this old-fashioned town now and it’s being torn apart. Then we’re back at the arena, but it looks like Howard’s department store and Harry Potter’s trying to save us.

The soldiers have a group of people all tied up that they’re going to burn, plus a dozen children lined up on the altar ready to be killed. My Andy is up there, although I still haven’t found Meghan. They set all the people on fire and in an instant they all become sparkling dust.

I weep uncontrollably, then wake up and I’ve been upset ever since.

Renae

DREAMER: Female, 52, U.S.

MAIN SYMBOLS:

Arena — a place of connected mind/consciousness

Ex-boyfriend — familiar inner aspect of the dreamer from the past

Friends — familiar aspects of the dreamer

Soldiers — disciplined aspects of the dreamer

Gun — a tool for change

Children — developing ideas of the dreamer

Daughter — familiar outer developing aspect of the dreamer

Food — knowledge

Carriage — vehicle for the physical body

House — state of mind

Town — a place of connected mind/consciousness

Harry Potter — imagined aspect of the dreamer

Altar — place of sacrifice

Fire — expansion

INTERPRETATION

Hello Renae,

Thank you for sharing this quite dynamic dream. It speaks to a transformation of sorts that you’re either in the process of going through or underwent a day or two prior to having this dream. Dreams reflect our state of mind from 24 to 48 hours before having the dream.

The dream contains many layers of aspects of the dreamer—you. We have an inner aspect from the past (ex-boyfriend), we have children/a daughter (developing aspects) and we also have soldiers (disciplined aspects).

People in a dream, universally, symbolize qualities of the dreamer. We perceive in others what’s within us; therefore, everyone is a reflection of us. After assigning each of the main aspects specific characteristic that they represent, a clearer picture and message emerge in relation to the dream.

The message conveys that there’s an overall sense of you being taken over by the soldiers (the disciplined aspects of you) in your dream. This takeover is forced through the use of guns, killing and restraining. And then there’s the fire (expansion) that consumes the little children.

APPLICATION

Dream messages aren’t literal. They’re symbolic. This dream is telling you that there are ways in which you view discipline as a forced act coming from outside of yourself.

Perhaps, a day or two prior, you were required to call upon the disciplined parts of yourself to accomplish something and it all felt rushed and violent in nature. Due to this “hostile takeover” by the disciplined parts of you, you experienced expansion and forced change. You did get to know yourself better, but it was quite an uncontrollable experience.

If this were my dream, I’d look at ways in which I view discipline and structure. The dream may represent just one occurrence of you feeling overtaken by discipline, or it might be reflecting your habitual way of approaching the idea of discipline. Only you know the answer to this.

Discipline is a very valuable attitude to have. It leads to change and evolution, and your dream does confirm that. Therefore, it’s your perception of discipline that needs to be upgraded. Instead of seeing it as a forceful act, perhaps you could see it as a productive step towards change and expansion?

May your dreams illuminate the inner you…

image via Pixabay
Original author: Aneta Baranek
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Money is not happiness. Money is a tool we can use to enhance the conditions that support happiness. Since sustaining a happy and fulfilling life in the twenty-first century requires a lot more cash than many folks have on hand, money often buys us more anxiety than satisfaction. 

The good news is that growing our money doesn’t have to be as complicated or stressful as we are led to believe. A few simple practices can help us achieve financial equilibrium far more effectively than the shiny new investment strategies, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and mutual funds Wall Street rolls out every year. Once we accept that our own behavior is the single most important determinant of long-term success, we can coexist peacefully with the daily uncertainties of the stock market. By following what Buddhists call “the middle path,” we will find our way to financial sanity and earn what I call our happiness dividend — the joy and satisfaction that come from a life well lived.

Maintaining this sane perspective can prove difficult because we are often wildly confused about money. Much of what we know about money we absorbed in childhood from parents and members of our extended social circle, who themselves may have been wildly confused about money. What we often learn from others is not financial wisdom, but emotions and attitudes. Fears and cravings. Unhealthy attachments.

Pema Chödrön, an acclaimed Buddhist scholar and teacher, uses the Tibetan word shenpa to describe the emotion-laden attachments that hook our attention and lead us to behave in unconscious and unproductive ways. For many of us, money is the ultimate shenpa, causing us to do some very stupid things. This shenpa makes us vulnerable to impulsive financial decisions and to terrible investment advice. 

There’s plenty of the latter around. 

Warring “experts” are constantly bombarding us with fear-laced advice about how to manage our money. Who gets our ear? Who should we believe? Whose advice should we follow? Most of us have little basis for sorting the few precious grains of wheat from all the chaff. 

When we lack money knowledge, shenpa runs the show. We end up gravitating to one extreme or another. Either we avoid money like a communicable disease or we become hyperfocused on getting more, which never seems to be enough. While ignoring money is a recipe for disaster, since it leaves our future to the whims of fate, focusing too much on money is a recipe for misery. It drives us to grind away at jobs we hate and micromanage our financial lives, leaping from one investment strategy to another at the slightest dip of the stock market. 

Walking the middle path with money requires taming our emotional attachments and choosing to make mindful financial decisions. We must learn to keep quiet faith in those decisions and detach ourselves from the nonstop daily chatter on the airwaves. This middle path frees us from worrying about money every minute because we possess a financial view that stretches for years. 

The two biggest demons we meet on the middle path are our own ignorance and fear. Mindfulness practices help us overcome our demons by teaching us to look at things as they really are, stripped of our mental and emotional illusions. Mindfulness teaches us to remain serene, present, and nonreactive in the face of our fear. These are the fundamental skills we need to develop to pursue a successful journey toward financial stability.

How can we develop a serene relationship with money in such a nonserene world? We must first get our heads straight about what money is and what it is not by untangling our ideas about money from our ideas about happiness. True happiness never comes from money. Happiness comes from intangibles like rich human relationships, a sense of purpose, and a feeling of optimism. 

Nonetheless, money does support conditions and experiences that can enhance our happiness, such as taking a family trip, helping a friend in need, retiring in a place we love, or having the free time to finally write our novel. Money’s sole purpose is to help us sustain who we are and what we truly value. It is a tool that can get us where we want to go, not an end goal in itself.

Once we understand that money is a tool, how do we get it to work for us? By putting in plenty of hard work of our own. This challenging task does not include an exhaustive search for the “best” money system or guru. Instead, we must turn our gaze inward and focus on our own behavior and thinking around money. 

We hold far more power over our personal fortunes than we realize. We gain this power by following a few simple practices that increase both our happiness and our financial well-being. These practices have remained unchanged for generations. Follow them diligently, and we’ll find ourselves well on the way to financial health. Take shortcuts, and all the clever financial tricks in the world won’t get us back on track. 

The practices aren’t complicated. All the elements of mindful money management can be reduced to just four deliberate steps: 

   • Cast aside our illusions about what money can and can’t do for us. • Become luminously conscious of what really makes us happy. • Make a simple money plan to support our vision of happiness. • Stick calmly and nonreactively to our plan.  As Porky Pig says, “Th-th-th-that’s all, folks!”

Mindful Money is divided into three sections that guide you through the first three steps: “Unmasking the Illusions,” “Finding Your Happiness,” and “Making a Plan.” Every chapter offers simple Mindful Money Practices designed to transform your relationship with money. Ranging from reflective writing and daily mindfulness practices to nuts-and-bolts accounting, these practices will prepare you to complete the Financial Action Plan template in the appendix.

The third section, “Making a Plan,” establishes the real connection between money and happiness by helping you launch your dreams into action. You’ll learn timeless, uncomplicated steps for achieving financial stability and growing your money. These steps can be taken no matter what the economic weather may be and no matter how loudly the pundits are screaming.

My hope is that this book helps you develop resilience, healthy practices, and confidence around money. We all have a quiet, alert place within ourselves where we can ride out the panic, the doubt, and the shenpa-driven impulses that arise when it comes to money. If we just sit mindfully, we’ll find that place.

I know because I did. When I started my career in financial services over twenty years ago, I was also pursuing a master’s degree in Buddhist studies. One of the first challenges I grappled with was how to reconcile planning for my own financial future with the concept of living in the present moment. After years of sitting with this question, here is the beautiful answer I discovered: My financial plan does far more than pave the way for a happier future. My plan greatly adds to my optimism, self-esteem, and sense of purpose in the here and now. Planning for tomorrow brings hope and joy to the present moment, which is a true happiness dividend.

# # #

Jonathan K. DeYoe, CPWA, AIF, is the author of Mindful Money. His is a leading California-based financial adviser and personal finance educator as well as a longtime Buddhist practitioner. Find him online at HappinessDividend.com.

Excerpted from Mindful Money. Copyright © 2017 by Jonathan K. DeYoe
Original author: Publicity Admin
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Thekchen Chöling, Dharamsala, HP, India, 23 February 2017 - This morning at his residence, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed more than 300 delegates participating in the first Tibetan Women’s Empowerment Conference. The conference, organised by the CTA, has been taking place in Gangchen Kyishong and has involved representatives of the Tibetan settlements right across India. He began by asking if they were happy with the discussions they’d been having and suggested that rather than simply talk about gender equality it was better to work on putting it into effect.

“We are all part of the 7 billion human beings alive today, but some of us are very well off, while elsewhere others are starving. I believe we can address this disparity if we work hard and develop self-confidence. That in turn depends on cultivating inner strength and the root of inner strength is developing compassion for others.”

Noting that Tibetans have been in exile for almost 58 years, His Holiness recalled meeting Indian leaders like Rajendra Prasad and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, who, in addition to being President and Vice President of the country respectively, impressed him with their scholarship. Listening to Radhakrishnan elegantly declaim verses from Nagarjuna and Chandrakirti in Sanskrit brought tears to his eyes, he said. However, he added that he also secretly suspected that he both understood and could explain better what the verses meant.

His Holiness attributed this confidence to the rigorous training he’d undertaken in Tibet, which was founded on the system originally established in the 8th century by Shantarakshita. This combined an exploration of philosophy with a strict command of reason and logic. This approach encourages investigating the topic in hand from different angles, something that can be useful in any branch of education.

He observed that since scientists are increasingly recognising that a disturbed state of mind is bad for our health, there is a growing appreciation of the need to learn more about our emotions and most particularly how to tackle our destructive emotions.

“Many of the world’s problems can be attributed to anger,” His Holiness explained. “The ever growing arms trade is based on a mixture of anger and fear and yet weapons bring no benefit. They don’t provide food. Their only function is to maim and kill other human beings.”


Delegates participating in the first Tibetan Women’s Empowerment Conference listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in Dharamsala, HP, India on February 23, 2016. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Many Indian traditions pursued concentration in meditation and gathered a deep understanding of the workings of the mind. Although this ancient knowledge has tended to be neglected more recently in India, it was kept alive in Tibet. What’s more, the efforts that were made to translate mostly Sanskrit Buddhist literature into Tibetan resulted in a profound enrichment of the language such that today Tibetan is the medium through which this ancient knowledge can most accurately be conveyed.

His Holiness mentioned how he had encouraged monasteries that traditionally focussed on rituals to introduce study and education. Similarly he had encouraged nunneries to do the same. One result, he proudly declared, was the recent award of the first Geshe-ma degrees to twenty fully qualified nuns. Addressing the three Geshe-mas in the room, he advised that it was now their responsibility to teach in their nunneries and schools.

His Holiness also touched on recent proposals for the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Education in conjunction with the University of Mysore to offer PhD programs for lay-people to study Buddhism and the inner science of the mind.

Alluding to the position of women in Buddhism, His Holiness affirmed that the Buddha had described men and women as having equal potential and had provided full ordination for both. He discussed the as yet unresolved difficulties in introducing or restoring the Bhikshuni tradition, but pointed out that a specific Vajrayana precept encourages respect for women in forbidding looking down on them. Furthermore, in Tibet there was an established tradition for recognising female reincarnations such as Samding Dorje Phagmo.

Referring to the role of women in the world, His Holiness reported scientific findings that women are more sensitive to the sufferings of others in addition to the great affection they provide as mothers. He explained how human society has developed from a time when hunter gatherers simply shared what they had to the emergence of agriculture and a sense of property. This led to a need for leadership and since the criterion was largely physical strength, male dominance emerged. Education has since restored a degree of equality between men and women. His Holiness wryly observed that since women are generally less aggressive than men, if more countries were led by women, the world would probably be a more peaceful place.

His Holiness concluded by congratulating the Kashag on taking the responsibility to promote women and encouraged the women to take full advantage of the opportunity. The meeting ended with his posing for photographs with different groups who are attending the conference.

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Ann Green on a surfboardWay too often, people come to Yoga with a certain set of expectations. They may force their bodies into postures that are uncomfortable or unfairly compare themselves to others in the classroom. In the end, they may leave the class feeling “not enough.” This is not Yoga! Yes, Yoga encourages you to move in new ways and explore what your body is capable of. But even more importantly, Yoga encourages each individual to listen, pay attention and be present.

Practicing Yoga is a wonderful adventure. It’s a practice of discovery—a journey that continually shifts with the needs of the body. Yoga teaches us to connect with where our bodies are today. It reminds us to listen. It’s not about perfecting a particular posture, but instead paying attention to how the body feels in the moment.

However, listening to the specific needs of our bodies can be challenging. We’re bombarded by constant feedback that effectively tells us to ignore the needs of the body and the mind. Time and time again, we’re told to ignore our hunger, plow through our fatigue and just get things done. And so, when your Yoga instructor asks you not to compare yourself with those around you and “just be,” it can be a little tricky.

When the chatter in my mind gets a bit too noisy, I like to trade in my mat for a stand-up paddle board and head out on the water.

Why water works

There’s something exquisitely beautiful about practicing Yoga on the water. Simply being present in nature helps you still the rambling of the mind and connect with the sights and sounds of nature.

When I practice Yoga on the water, I find it so much simpler to be present and not compare. Water helps connect me with who I am. It encourages me to listen and quiet my mind.

Water is soothing and calming. At the same time, it’s a reminder that life, like nature, is transient. Sometimes it’s calm, and other days, extremely wavy.

Just breathe

SUP Yoga begins with becoming in tune with the breath. For a lot of individuals, being on the water helps with breath work which, if practiced in a busy classroom, can feel rushed or even “silly.”

As you continue to focus on your breath, you’ll discover the rhythm that’s right for your body. Perhaps your breath will begin to mirror the cadence of the water as you inhale and exhale with the patterns of the waves. There are no rules or standards that you have to meet.

There’s nothing wrong with staying here for the duration of your class. In fact, I recommend making the choice to, at times, do exactly this. Get out on the water and breathe. Breathe in the wonderful oxygen that surrounds you and take in the incredible scents and sounds of nature.

Taking the time to reconnect with your body is extremely powerful. Enjoy the moment!

Finding your balance

When you begin to rise to a standing position, it may take a few tries to find your stability. During this journey, you may stumble or even fall. With SUP Yoga, falling is part of the experience. The water reminds us that we’re not perfect and that both energy and patience are needed to find balance.

Even the most seasoned SUP yogi will find moments in which his or her balance is off kilter. Balance is transient. There will be days on which you’ll rise on the board and your core will immediately engage, culminating in a beautiful, empowering mountain pose. Other days, you’ll waver and sway with the water, finding it challenging to stay still. SUP Yoga encourages us to embrace these changes and simply accept where we are each day.

Remember to play

When you get on the board, bring with you a bit of playfulness. Feel the warmth of the sun’s rays and their luscious contrast with the coolness of the water. Explore the experience of moving on the water. Pretend that you’re a surfer and ride the waves!

Once you’re firmly on the board, play with some movements. Try a seated twist and see how your centre of gravity shifts as you move your body. Play with each leg in Warrior I pose and discover which side of your body you naturally favour.

So, if you find you’re off-balance, what do you need to change to keep your body stable? Well, SUP Yoga will kick your core into gear! Water moves and to keep that board balanced, your core needs to be engaged.

As a bonus, stand-up paddle boarding gives you a wider base of support than you’d have with a Yoga mat. The benefit of this new tool is that it’ll help challenge you to take your practice to the next level.

Top 10 poses to try on a SUP board:

Child’s Pose (Balasana) Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) Boat (Navasana) Knee-based Crescent (Prasaritta anjeyanasana)
5. Warrior I (Virabhadrasana)
6. Plank (Phalakasana and variations)
7. Mountain (Tadasana)
8. Bridge (Setu Bandha)
9. Upward-Facing Dog (Urdha Mukha Svanasana)
10. Corpse (Savasana)

Reconnect with your own power

SUP Yoga encourages you to take both your mind and body into a new experience. It’s playful, fun and challenging.

You’ll stumble and fall. You’ll laugh and feel inspired. SUP Yoga encourages you to think outside the box and reconnect to the power in your body and mind.

If you’ve been practicing Yoga for a while, isn’t it time you tried trading in your mat for a paddle board? Your mind and body will thank you for it!

«RELATED READ» TONE AND TRANSFORM: Master the Five Tibetans yoga poses»

image: Ann Green
Original author: Ann Green
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Boxers in a ringIn our weekly Psychological & Spiritual Therapy column, therapist Jack Surguy is offering professional advice to The Mindful Word readers for all those questions and problems you have wanted to discuss with someone qualified and caring.

If you would like Jack to assist you in any areas of your life and relationships, fill out this form. He will respond to your questions through this column, normally published every Tuesday.

Intro

QUESTION

Dear Sir,

I really hope you could give me some advice on how to break free from a pattern that I’m experiencing in my life. I’m attracting people who are 100 percent different from me!

I’ve lost my job three times because of this! My last three bosses had the same psycho-sociopathic tendencies. They used me (big-time), mistreated me, were highly dark in nature, were animal haters and money lovers, etc. All of them owe me money.

I’ve gone through hell because of them. I have health troubles and I’m afraid to find another job because I have no energy to work for someone like that again. I have to change something and find a normal boss (job!).

I don’t know why I keep making the same mistake over and over again.

I’m highly educated, very loyal and highly responsible, always working through weekends. I’m a perfectionist by nature, an animal lover, very soft and gentle, but my work environment always seems to be a living hell.

I’m so unhappy. I’m suffering because of my situation! Every time, it’s the same story. What I am doing so wrong?!

I’d really appreciate your reply!

Thank you in advance,

Melody, 38, Singapore

ANSWER

Hello Melody,

Thank you for your question. It sounds like you’re troubled by the fact that you seem to repeatedly find yourself involved with the same type of people who use you and ultimately terminate your employment. According to what you’ve written, you’d like to know some possible reasons for your tendency to fall into this situation over and over again.

In trying to answer this, I’m going to make the assumption that you’re developing personal or romantic relationships with these individuals. I apologize if this isn’t the case. The type of profession in which you’re involved may also shed a little more light on possible reasons as well. Nevertheless, we can explore some possible reasons why you continually find yourself in the same situation.

Who are you attracted to?

When I read your question, I was interested in the way you phrased sentences. For example, you state, “I’m attracting people who are 100 percent different from me!” I believe most people have probably experienced this to one degree or another throughout their lives.

There have been times when I’ve been approached by someone I didn’t consider “my type” who was interested in trying to develop a relationship with me. Most times, I was able to communicate my disinterest in a manner that didn’t disrupt a friendly relationship or result in hard feelings—problem solved. Evidently, this doesn’t seem to be the route you’re taking.

From what you’ve written, it appears as if you normally decide to move forward with forming some type of relationship with these individuals. If that’s the case, then we’re not only dealing with the type of people attracted to you, but also the type of people to whom you’re attracted. That seems to be the crux of the issue—for whatever reason, you’re attracted to individuals who have a tendency to use and mistreat you.

Another aspect that stood out to me about these relationships is that all three individuals were your boss, supervisor or employer. Many people consider it an unwise decision to become involved with their boss. However, this situation obviously occurs often enough that most businesses have a policy which states that if a supervisor becomes involved with a subordinate, the relationship is to be reported to the Human Resources department. Following that, the subordinate may be moved to another department to avoid conflicts of interest.

It appears that the type of employment in which you work may not provide this type of protection for its employees. Nevertheless, it stood out to me that you seem to somehow end up in relationships with your bosses. Since this same scenario has happened on three different occasions, it may suggest that you’re also attracted to individuals in positions of authority.

Psycho-sociopathic tendencies

In your question, you state that all three bosses had the same psycho-sociopathic tendencies, that they “used you (big-time),” mistreated you, were “highly dark in nature,” hated animals and loved money. You also mentioned that they all owe you money.

There’s a lot to unpack in these descriptors. First, I’m not sure exactly how to interpret it, or to what degree you imply, when you state that these individuals have psycho-sociopathic tendencies and are “highly dark in nature.” This can mean a variety of very different things, depending on the person with whom you’re speaking.

For me, I’ve trained with Dr. Robert D. Hare, a criminal psychologist who has studied violent psychopaths for most of his career and developed the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, which is considered the gold standard in diagnosing psychopathy. So my understanding of a dark nature and sociopathic tendencies may be different from yours.

Since these individuals you describe are apparently able to secure and retain supervisory positions, I assume that you mean they lack remorse, frequently lie and use others, may be callous, are probably very glib and charming and have a way of talking others out of their money. However, they may also possess a sadistic streak, due to which they may find pleasure in the pain or humiliation of others. My guess is that these individuals probably also present with highly narcissistic personalities.

What we seem to be looking at is the possibility that you may be attracted to individuals in positions of authority who present themselves as powerful, confident and self-assured, but who are in reality emotionally unavailable and perhaps not interested in any kind of healthy relationship. While anyone can fall victim to these manipulating personality types, the fact that you’ve been in three similar relationships suggests yet again that for some reason, you’re also attracted to these personality types as well.

Identifying as a victim

Aspects of your question can supply us with other potential dynamics that may be contributing to these situations as well.

As mentioned, you state that you’re attracting people who are 100 percent different from you. You elaborate by saying that you lost three jobs because of the wrong type of people being attracted to you. You also state that these people used you, mistreated you, and owe you money. You add that you’re going through hell because of them, have health problems and are afraid to get another job because of them, and are suffering because of your situation.

In your question, you’ve firmly identified yourself as the victim who holds no responsibility for any of the events that have repeatedly occurred throughout your life. This can be a very difficult identity to abandon, but I believe it’s necessary if change is to occur.

I worked with a woman a few short years ago who also struggled with self-identifying as a victim. This woman sought counselling to help her cope with a divorce she was experiencing. This person had been married to a violent alcoholic for nearly 15 years, and he’d physically abused her on a regular basis. While she was going through the divorce, I strongly suggested that she not become involved in another relationship until she could work on her own issues.

About three months later, she came into the office and informed me that she’d met a man at the bar and they were now dating. While discussing her announcement, she also shared that the person drank alcohol every day, they more often than not became drunk on a daily basis and they had a history of becoming physically aggressive when intoxicated.

In response, I nodded to her and then stated, “OK, well, as long as you know what you’re getting into. You’re an adult and even if I don’t agree with your decisions, I’ll respect them. At least you won’t be a victim this time.” That last part caught her attention and she asked me how, if he beat her, she wouldn’t be a victim.

Stepping into the ring

I used boxing and mixed martial arts as a metaphor to explain my position. In these sports, two individuals come to an agreement that when they step into the ring and the bell sounds, they each have permission to hit each other as hard and as often as they can, with the full intention of knocking the other person unconscious, if possible.

Because both individuals have agreed to these conditions, neither one is a victim in the true sense of the word. However, if after a round ends and one fighter starts walking to their corner to rest and get water, the other fighter suddenly starts throwing punches and knocks them out, the fighter who has been struck is now actually a victim. It’s a well-known agreement that fighters aren’t allowed to attack one another after the bell ends the round. A fighter who attacks between rounds has violated the agreement and has victimized the other fighter.

I explained to my client that she had full knowledge that this person was a violent alcoholic who attacked people when he was intoxicated. I stated that if she chose to become involved with this person, knowing full well that he’d strike her when intoxicated, and she was willing to accept the terms of that agreement, then how would she be a victim?

That wasn’t the response she was expecting me to provide and it was apparent that it caught her off guard. The next week, when she came in for therapy, the first thing she shared with me was that she’d decided to end the relationship and that she thought it was probably best not to get involved with anyone at that time.

Abandoning the role of victim

My response to this woman isn’t the response I’d give to a person who’s struggling to get out of an abusive relationship. The dynamics and issues involved in those situations are vastly different from the dynamics that were at work in this particular woman’s situation. In fact, my response to her while she went through the process of trying to leave her 15-year abusive relationship was entirely different from my response to her new relationship—hence her surprise and confusion when I made the statement that I did.

I made this statement for very specific reasons. One of the reasons this woman had remained in an abusive relationship for so long was her view of herself as weak, powerless and victimized. It was only when she started to see herself as a strong, capable, effectual person that she was able to gather up enough courage to end the relationship and start a new life. However, she’d become so accustomed to seeing herself as a victim that she tended to slide back into that role from time to time, which is a completely normal, understandable response.

She was also accustomed to people pleading with her to leave her former relationship. When people did this, she felt cared for and loved. When this client walked into my office and stated her intention to become involved in another abusive relationship, she was hoping to achieve two things:

First, she’d be able to move back into the well-known role of victim which she knew much better than her new role as a strong, courageous, capable woman. Second, she was expecting me to plead with her not to become involved in another abusive relationship, thus allowing her to feel cared for and loved, albeit in a very unhealthy manner.

My response impaired her ability to easily and justifiably embrace the role of victim again, and my insistence to respect her decision as an adult reminded her that as a strong, courageous woman, she was capable of making decisions to help foster health and healing in her life. She never returned to her former abusive relationship.

Learning how you play a part in events  

My response to your situation would be in a similar vein. The first and foremost step you’ll need to take in order to change this lifetime pattern of yours is to abandon the role of victim—the role of seeing things happening to you—and begin the very difficult process of trying to learn how you may also be contributing to these events. Through taking responsibility for your behaviour and actions, you’ll develop the ability to effect change in your life, as well as the ability to decline an unhealthy relationship.

Splitting

Lastly, I believe that comparing your descriptors of these “bosses” and your descriptors of yourself may prove useful. In Clinical Psychology, your view of them as “all bad” and your view of yourself as “all good” is referred to as “splitting.”

Splitting is the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. In other words, splitting occurs when someone attributes only negative attributes to another person and only positive attributes to themselves, while also denying or failing to see their own negative traits.

Splitting is most often associated with Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder.  These disorders frequently produce a desperate need to be regarded as “perfect” (the perfectionism you mentioned)—physically, cerebrally and spiritually. Oftentimes, at the very heart of these disorders is a core experience of shame that frequently develops due to a childhood fraught with confusing messages, neglect and abuse. Those who have suffered such events are often left with a persistent doubt that they are lovable or possess genuine worth.

Explore your issues with a professional

At the beginning of this article, I stated that certain assumptions would need to be made in trying to respond to your question. I apologize if these assumptions were misguided, resulting in information that doesn’t apply to your situation.

Either way, however, I believe that your relationship difficulties and struggle to break this pattern does suggest that certain psychological and emotional dynamics are interfering with your ability to make wise relationship decisions. I suggest that you explore these issues more with a professional so that you can obtain the relief you’re seeking.

image: Samuel John Roberts via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Original author: Jack Surguy
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Good health is something all people want, but few can easily attain.

Healthy living involves many factors, including diet, exercise, oral hygiene, emotional health and the control of chronic health issues. These various factors make it almost impossible for some individuals to follow through with the choice of a healthy lifestyle.

To be successful when it comes to healthy living, you must be very deliberate in making this lifestyle choice and take time to consider all of the factors involved.

6 strategies for healthy living

Create a flowchart

Creating a flowchart will force you to think about all the factors involved in the pursuit of a healthy life. What does healthy living mean to you? Is it about physical health, oral health, healthy eating? Or is it about exercising and mental health? Or all of these combined?

Good physical health should be at the top of your chart. As you move down and add more entries, contemplate the aspects you’ll need to focus on in order to truly attain this goal. An obvious start would involve your diet, as the decision to eat better is often the initial step a person will take towards living a healthy lifestyle.

Keep a food journal

Keeping a food journal that lists all food consumed will prompt you to take a good look at what you eat.

The truth is, people don’t always remember what they’ve eaten between meals. The snacks you eat at your job, the candy bar you pick up while paying for gas or the first thing you reach for when entering your home after work may all be unhealthy snacks that could be reduced or eliminated.

Keeping an inventory of what you eat in black and white will help you see the flaws in your diet. Unhealthy snacks may add up to a huge portion of your daily calorie intake, not to mention your sugar and carbohydrate intake. A food diary will allow you to reflect about what you eat on a daily basis and make changes in order to eliminate foods that aren’t aiding you in accomplishing your goals.

Pay attention to overall wellness

Once the habit of keeping a food diary is in place, another aspect can be added to the diary. This addition should track overall wellness.

Consider adding a column that tracks your energy level and chronic health issues. For instance, if you experience chronic headaches, a note whenever you experience one could be included in the food journal. This’ll help you see if a certain food is triggering health issues. It can also help you determine which foods give you more energy and which ones drain you.

Listen to your body! It’ll tell you what’s wrong and what’s best for your health. Pay attention to the way it reacts to external incentives and try to figure out the best way to keep it satisfied most of the time.

Track your physical activity

Your food diary can also be modified to include exercise. If you’re not really a “sports person,” choose physical activities that are easy to live with, like a walk around the block or riding a bike.

A weekly habit of exercise can quickly become a daily habit. Tracking your overall feelings, increases in energy or weight loss will encourage you to exercise more.

If you realize you love sports, you could consider going to the gym regularly, and maybe even ask for a personal trainer. A trainer will be able to help you create a personalized routine that includes only the exercises you feel comfortable doing.

Take care of your teeth

Another way of attaining optimum health is through proper oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene will not only affect your appearance, but can also damage your overall health.

Failing to take care of your teeth and gums will likely result in a battle against gum disease, which has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and even respiratory disease. Gum disease symptoms and warning signs include red, swollen and/or bleeding gums. Other symptoms may include the teeth pulling away from the gums, loose teeth, bad breath and even a change in the way the teeth fit together.

To help prevent gum disease, it’s important to take the time to brush, floss and rinse, and also pay attention to the look and feel of your teeth and gums.

Examine your emotions

Finally, in addition to the strategies above, taking an emotional inventory can lead to a major breakthrough in health.

Analyzing this aspect of health may be harder for some than others. It involves taking a close look at how you live your life, including which people and activities you choose to associate yourself with. Some people end up obsessing over things that don’t really matter in the big scheme of life.

Your emotional inventory can be used to keep track of your state of mind throughout a day or a week. It’ll help you determine what types of activities and people uplift you and which ones drag you down. Be honest with yourself about these things, because this will help you figure out what people and activities you could consider stepping away from.

Some concluding advice

Remember, good health isn’t just about food and exercise—it involves so many different aspects of day-to-day living.

To set yourself on a path towards living a healthy life, you’ll need to define what healthy living means to you and identify which areas of your health need improvement. Then, it’s all just a matter of making the right choices and changes!

«RELATED READ» THE SCIENCE OF MIND-BODY: 3 therapies proven to improve your health»

Ethel Huizar is a health writer who has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Colorado. Ethel is keen on exploring health-related topics, writing and doing research. Through her writing, she aims to inform people how nature and science can help them lead healthier lives.

image: Pixabay
Original author: editor-er
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Posted by on in Krishnamurti (RSS feed)

The world is always close to catastrophe. But it seems to be closer now. Seeing this approaching catastrophe, most of us take shelter in idea. We think that this catastrophe, this crisis, can be solved by an ideology. Ideology is always an impediment to direct relationship, which prevents action. We want peace only as an idea, but not as an actuality. We want peace on the verbal level, which is only on the thinking level, though we proudly call it the intellectual level. But the word peace is not peace. Peace can only be when the confusion which you and another make ceases. We are attached to the world of ideas and not to peace. We search for new social and political patterns and not for peace; we are concerned with the reconciliation of effects and not in putting aside the cause of war. This search will bring only answers conditioned by the past. This conditioning is what we call knowledge, experience; and the new changing facts are translated, interpreted, according to this knowledge. So, there is conflict between what is and the experience that has been. The past, which is knowledge, must ever be in conflict with the fact, which is ever in the present. So, this will not solve the problem but will perpetuate the conditions that have created the problem.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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Can ideas ever produce action, or do ideas merely mold thought and therefore limit action? When action is compelled by an idea, action can never liberate man. It is extraordinarily important for us to understand this point. If an idea shapes action, then action can never bring about the solution to our miseries because, before it can be put into action, we have first to discover how the idea comes into being.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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What do we mean by idea? Surely idea is the process of thought. Is it not? Idea is a process of mentation, of thinking; and thinking is always a reaction either of the conscious or of the unconscious. Thinking is a process of verbalization, which is the result of memory; thinking is a process of time. So, when action is based on the process of thinking, such action must inevitably be conditioned, isolated. Idea must oppose idea, idea must be dominated by idea. There is a gap then between action and idea. What we are trying to find out is whether it is possible for action to be without idea. We see how idea separates people. As I have already explained, knowledge and belief are essentially separating qualities. Beliefs never bind people; they always separate people; when action is based on belief or an idea or an ideal, such an action must inevitably be isolated, fragmented. Is it possible to act without the process of thought, thought being a process of time, a process of calculation, a process of self-protection, a process of belief, denial, condemnation, justification. Surely, it must have occurred to you as it has to me, whether action is at all possible without idea.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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In our weekly Mindful Dreams column, Aneta Baranek of the School of Metaphysics is offering free dream interpretations to The Mindful Word readers, as well as articles on dreams in general.

If you’ve ever been curious about deciphering the cryptic contents of your subconscious mind, here’s your chance! If you would like Aneta to interpret your dream, fill out this form. She will respond with your dream interpretation through this column, published every Thursday. Aneta would love to receive more comments for the dreams interpreted. If you can relate to a dream posted here or have any insights to add, you can post them as comments to the interpretation, or email her at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Intro

DREAM

I dreamed of kissing an old neighbour when we were kids. In my dream, he was 15 and I was 47. (In real life, he’s 45 and I’m 47. We used to kiss a lot when we were around 12.) He had his own face, but another neighbour’s name. I freaked out after I kissed him because of the age, but I liked it. What does this mean????

Keri

DREAMER: Female, 47, AU

MAIN SYMBOLS:

Kissing — intimacy, closeness

Old neighbour — familiar, inner aspect of the dreamer from the past

INTERPRETATION

Hello Keri,

I appreciate you sharing your dream. It’s one of those dreams that can cause a lot of commotion in a dreamer’s mind.

Dreams are symbolic messages. In other words, they don’t convey a literal meaning, but an encoded message from your subconscious mind.

Every person, place and thing in a dream represents the dreamer. A person symbolizes an aspect of the dreamer. People of the same sex represent the outer aspects, while people of the opposite sex represent the inner aspects. So in the case of your dream, the neighbour symbolizes a part of you, an inner part of you.

It’s up to the dreamer to determine what quality each aspect actually represents. Some examples might be loving, curious, gentle or untrustworthy. We all see everyone through our own filter, based on the interactions that we have in our waking life.

Regardless of what quality the neighbour represents, you were very close to it a day or two prior to having the dream. In your daily life, that quality became pronounced and you were very intimate (kissing) with it. Perhaps you were getting to know that aspect of yourself on a deeper level?

The neighbour having the face of one person and name of another has to do with you not being clear as to how this quality expresses itself within you. There’s a blending that currently occurs within you in regard to that aspect.

APPLICATION

If it were my dream, I’d ponder what the old neighbour symbolizes. Your subconscious mind is bringing your attention to that specific quality for a reason.

In fact, I suggest you make a list of all people that are currently present in your life and assign each one of them a main quality that they represent to you. This’ll help you not only with your future dreams, but will also offer you a deeper understanding of your interactions with others during your waking life.

Everyone is in our lives, and our dreams, for a reason.

May your dreams illuminate the inner you…

image: First Kiss by Emily Skolozynski via Flickr ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Original author: Aneta Baranek
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Posted by on in Krishnamurti (RSS feed)

It is only when the mind is free from idea that there can be experiencing. Ideas are not truth; and truth is something that must be experienced directly, from moment to moment. It is not an experience which you want, which is then merely sensation. Only when one can go beyond the bundle of ideas, which is the 'me', which is the mind, which has a partial or complete continuity, only when one can go beyond that, when thought is completely silent, is there a state of experiencing. Then one shall know what truth is.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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In our weekly Psychological & Spiritual Therapy column, therapist Jack Surguy is offering professional advice to The Mindful Word readers for all those questions and problems you have wanted to discuss with someone qualified and caring.

If you would like Jack to assist you in any areas of your life and relationships, fill out this form. He will respond to your questions through this column, normally published every Tuesday.

Intro

QUESTION

Hello,

I’ve suffered from asthma for years and recently the situation has worsened. I get a lot of breathlessness, respiratory infections and sinus infections. Mine is a serious condition that requires steroid injections, analyzation, antibiotic pills and more.

I’d welcome a spiritual understanding as to why this happens and what I should do to heal myself. Thanks, and blessings of light and love!

Astar, 66, Israel

ANSWER

Hello Astar,

Thank you for taking the time to send in your question. I’d just about completed a well thought-out, philosophical response when life shattered my comfort zone and reminded me once again that while life may be a mystery, suffering is much more apparent.

I ask for your patience as I relate my experiences while also trying to address your question.

November 2015

On November 11, 2015, I received a call from my son at around 12:30 p.m. Ryan, my middle child and second son, was in school at this time so this call was out of the ordinary. I answered the phone and as soon as he spoke, I knew something was wrong.

In a voice that I knew was holding back tears, Ryan told me that his best friend and training partner on the high school wrestling team had committed suicide that morning in the locker room.

Levi Black was just 17 years old when he walked into the locker room of Shenandoah High School and hung himself. My son’s life, as well as the lives of Levi’s family, were radically changed in just a few passing moments. In fact, Levi’s older brother, Gary Black, was the wrestling coach and Levi’s father, Gary Black Sr., was the assistant coach. Gary Jr. was one of the first people to discover Levi.

I dropped what I was doing and immediately drove to be with my son. Instead of allowing Ryan to leave with his friends to try and cope with the situation, I insisted that he and I spend some time together first. Ryan and I spent the next three hours talking by a nearby river. As we sat next to the stream, listening to the water gently pass by and feeling the cold wind blow its chill at times, Ryan began the long, arduous task of trying to wrap his young mind around the reality of death, loss, unfairness and life’s perplexing nature.

Ryan was asked to be a pallbearer at Levi’s funeral—a request he felt honoured to fulfill. Ryan also spoke at the funeral, reading a revision of a letter that Ram Dass had written to the parents of a young girl who’d been murdered. The letter read, in part:

Levi finished his work on earth, and left the stage in a manner that leaves those of us left behind with a cry of agony in our hearts, as the fragile thread of our faith is dealt with so violently. … I cannot ease your pain with any words, nor should I. For your pain is Levi’s legacy to you. Not that he or I would inflict such pain by choice, but there it is. And it must burn its purifying way to completion. For something in you dies when you bear the unbearable, and it is only in that dark night of the soul that you are prepared to see as God sees and to love as God loves. Our rational minds can never understand what has happened, but our hearts—if we keep them open to God—will find their own intuitive way.

Levi had been struggling with some mental health issues for a while. He’d been seeing a counsellor and taking medications. His parents were doing all they knew how to do for Levi.

He’s still greatly missed.

This past week

Just this past week, as I went about my day, I was approached and informed that a student my older son, Brett, went to school with was found dead, having suffered from multiple gunshot wounds.

Since I don’t know this student’s family as well as I know the Blacks, I’ll leave out identifying information. However, this young man was found dead in the street at around 4 a.m. To make matters even worse, I discovered that even though I live in a different town, Brett’s friend was killed less than a minute away from where I live. Once again, I found myself trying to help young people struggle with the reality of death, loss, unfairness and life’s perplexing nature.

Meet suffering with an open heart

In your question, you stated that you’re seeking a spiritual understanding of why you suffer. To answer your question as honestly and sincerely as I’m able, I have to admit that I simply don’t know.

I’m able to provide you with reasons why I think people may suffer, but at the deepest level within me, I must acknowledge that my opinions are just speculations. They’re speculations based on a life of studying psychology and religion and practicing meditation—but they’re still speculations. Even more important, however, is the fact that when a loss hits you so hard that your breath is knocked out of you, and your entire life is suddenly transformed into a hell you barely recognize, the words used to try and convey these answers seem empty of meaning and provide little to no comfort.

What I’ve found that does provide some sense of comfort and peace during difficult times is a practice Thich Nhat Hanh calls deep listening. Thich Nhat Hanh describes deep listening with the following:

Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.

To be able to practice deep listening, we must also be willing to mindfully embrace our own pain and suffering in a compassionate way. Mindfulness isn’t about sitting on a pillow and going away to a blissful place in the mind. To the contrary, mindfulness is about meeting suffering head-on, directly and with an open heart that’s willing to feel the intense pangs that often accompany pain and loss.

As I stated, I don’t truly have an answer for you. However, I do believe that Thich Nhat Hanh has provided us with some excellent guidance based on his own mindful acceptance of pain and suffering. I’ll leave you with his words, for they’re much wiser than my own:

Love cannot exist without suffering. In fact, suffering is the ground on which love is born. If you have not suffered, if you don’t see the suffering of people or other living beings, you would not have love in you nor would you understand what it is to love. Without suffering, compassion, loving-kindness, tolerance, and understanding would not arise. Do you want to live in a place where there is no suffering? If you live in such a place, you will not be able to know what is love. Love is born from suffering.

You know what suffering is. You don’t want to suffer, you don’t want to make other people suffer, and therefore you love is born. You want to be happy and you want to bring happiness to others. That is love. When suffering is there, it helps give birth to compassion. We need to touch suffering in order for our compassion to be born and to be nourished. That is why suffering plays such an important role even down here in paradise. We are already here in some sort of paradise surrounded by love, but there is still jealousy, hatred, anger, and suffering around us and inside of us.

It is because we are struggling to free ourselves from the grip of suffering and affliction that we learn how to love and how to take care of ourselves and of others, not to inflict on others more suffering and misunderstanding. Love is a practice and unless you know what suffering is, you are not motivated to practice compassion, love, and understanding.

I would not be willing to go to a place where there is no suffering because I know that living in such a place I would not experience love. Because I suffer, I need love. Because you suffer, you need love. Because we suffer, we know that we have to offer each other love and love becomes a practice.

image: Suffering in silence by exezippdf via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Original author: Jack Surguy
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An encounter with a high school friend

Very recently, I had an encounter with a dear high school friend that was unexpected and that deeply touched my soul. This fellow, with whom I and other friends used to carouse in hilarious and sometimes slightly “antisocial” ways during middle and high school, was someone I’d since seen only every decade at high school reunions, until we discovered one another on Facebook a few years back.

We’ve continued our friendship, often making oblique references to our irreverent shared past, while, so far as I’ve been aware, pursuing agendas in our current lives that are quite different from one another. He’s in real estate or possibly insurance and still runs in track meets in his sixties. I more or less leave my “Eastern spirituality” out of our conversations.

Today, though, it came up in a way I hadn’t expected. My morning perusal of the New York Times op-eds had led, as it often does, to certain thoughts I wanted to share with a wider audience. An internal response I had to one columnist’s ideas about the Trump administration emerged as this brief post on my Facebook timeline:

This “populism” = fervor via scapegoating. When the dust clears, lives are no better.

I went on to watch the new Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketches, wonderful satires that in my opinion, deserve a Medal of Freedom from the U.S. government someday for enabling us to laugh at the recent follies of the “naked emperor” we now have.

During one of the sketches, I received a notification that my old friend had commented on my “‘this populism'” post and I stopped the SNL video to click and see what he’d said. His response was:

Interesting thoughtline Max.
It seems to me that the current edition of populism has emerged as a reaction to globalism. Much like the rise of Donald Trump as reaction to Barack Obama. IMO, more so than HRC [Hillary Rodham Clinton]. What is your definition of “globalism”?

Globalism, defined

I’ve tried, with limited success, to follow the recent public debate about international trade agreements, which I believe have something to do with globalism. However, I’m not even sure where I stand on these. I find them impenetrably complicated and tend to see pros and cons on both sides.

However, my friend’s comment helped me clarify my mental concept of what “globalism” really is. I then did a Google search until I found a dictionary definition that expressed more or less that idea of it. Here’s what I posted next:

This is the definition I like: “the attitude or policy of placing the interests of the entire world above those of individual nations.” Other forms of “populism” imo are reactions based on fear. We ARE one world, and will have to recognize that because of global environmental as well as political threats. But it’s a big step! And so understandably, some people are afraid of “the Other.”

The connection with Ram Dass

After sharing this, I noticed that some new emails had come in and went to take a look. One of them was the Ram Dass “Words of Wisdom” mailing I subscribe to, which comes out a couple times a week. Reading it, I incorporated it into yet another addition to the Facebook thread with my friend:

I just came across this quote. And it is related to what I feel “globalism” is, or represents, as a positive force: “There is a way of shifting consciousness so that you see that … we are all one in the form of many. … You see that a starving person or a dying person or a frightened person is you. Then the whole trip of, ‘What’s good for me? What do I want? What do I need?’ just becomes less interesting. And that’s where the power is that changes the universe.” – Ram Dass, “Words of Wisdom,” Feb. 12, 2017

I did all of this with a mild underlying tension, because my friend and I generally bridge what I’ve felt are our differences via a combination of humour and ignoring certain topics as sort of a “no-man’s land.”

In this case, though, he’d asked a direct question. I was prepared for some blowback, probably with his characteristic humour, most likely in the form of sarcasm.

Instead, when I received notification of a new reply from him, I was shocked to discover this:

Got it. Thanks, as always, for your perspective.

The breaking of a barrier

I felt his words deep inside. He’d broken a barrier that had been there for nearly half a century. He’d let my view of the world’s situation in with a few simple words that lacked any trace of irony, let alone sarcasm.

Quite simply, our conversation has augmented my belief that anything is possible. Everything must await the right time, but yes, I firmly believe anything is possible!

Poverty and death—in the eye of the beholder

In closing, I’ll share one little Ram Dass story amplifying the “Words of Wisdom” quote, simply because I feel it’s such a powerful concrete example.

R.D. tells a story of when he was first in Varanasi, India, not long after arriving in the country. One day he saw an aged beggar who’d dragged himself to the burning ghats to die. He was horrified, thinking thoughts like “Such poverty!” etc. He felt pity for the man.

Burning ghats in Varanasi - Unexpected Encounter

Varanasi’s burning ghats

Coming back through Varanasi some time later, R.D. saw another man in a similar situation. He’d gone through a considerable transformation in the interim, and this time was able to see with different eyes. The old man, he realized, felt himself to be among the most fortunate of beings. After all, he’d come to the holiest place on Earth to die! R.D. realized that the man was looking at him—a rich Westerner with a big van, whom he felt didn’t have a clue about what was really important—with the most abject pity.

Final thought

The Oneness, the awareness that One Being lives in all forms on Earth—to me, that’s “globalization”!

<<RELATED READ>> U.S. ELECTION: Bringing awareness into our political winter of disconnect»

image 1: Thomas Altfather Good (Creative Commons BY-ND); image 2: Fionn Kidney via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY)
Original author: Max Reif
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Why do ideas take root in our minds? Why do not facts become all-important, not ideas? Why do theories, ideas, become so significant rather than the fact? Is it that we cannot understand the fact, or have not the capacity, or are afraid of facing the fact? Therefore, ideas, speculations, theories are a means of escaping away from the fact.
You may run away, you may do all kinds of things; the facts are there the fact that one is angry, the fact that one is ambitious, the fact that one is sexual, a dozen things. You may suppress them, you may transmute them, which is another form of suppression; you may control them, but they are all suppressed, controlled, disciplined with ideas. Do not ideas waste our energy? Do not ideas dull the mind? You may be clever in speculation, in quotations; but it is obviously a dull mind that quotes, that has read a lot and quotes.
You remove the conflict of the opposite at one stroke if you live with the fact and therefore liberate the energy to face the fact. For most of us, contradiction is an extraordinary field in which the mind is caught. I want to do this, and I do something entirely different; but if I face the fact of wanting to do this, there is no contradiction; and therefore, at one stroke I abolish altogether all sense of the opposite, and my mind then is completely concerned with what is, and with the understanding of what is.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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Of the many things we take for granted these days, one of the most powerful is LOVE. Yup, that four-letter word that many of us only understand a fraction of. It’s because of love that many of us are able to forgive. It’s because of love that many of us even listen to certain individuals. It’s because of love that some of us are willing to open up our hearts and be vulnerable again and again and again. But there comes a time when we easily take love for granted. This can happen when who or what we love is present every day and there is a developed expectation of what love does to make our lives better. When love is missing from our lives, it’s not as easy to get out of bed. Confusion and doubt arise when we feel like we are missing a loved one or when we feel that we are not being loved properly. 

This is because love brings about a sense of confidence and excitement. Being loved properly pushes us to spread our love to others. So it’s time to truly acknowledge love and say thank you. No, I mean really say thank you. Say it: “Thank you.” Thank the ones who love you. Thank the ones who truly think about you and your well-being. Thank the ones who believe in you and support you. Thank your loved one by celebrating them. If you truly love them as they love you, this is the perfect time to say, “I want you to know that you are appreciated.” True love, real love also extends to those who try to hurt us. This is another level of love, because when we really love, we understand that those who try to hurt us are themselves hurting more than we are (whether we see it or not).

So what do we do with this love feeling? How do we celebrate it as an action today? One of the most powerful ways I like to display my love is with a handwritten note — a very simple note to my significant other, a friend, a family member, or most important, myself. This is something I do yearly and at random times in between. Each note details what I love and appreciate about them. These are things they may think go unnoticed. Each note is written with care and accompanied by my favorite scent so the recipient can feel my attention put into it. Since we live in a time when technology has taken over the way we communicate, a handwritten note can make your loved ones feel special as well as describe what they mean to you. 

While I suggest this small but powerful gesture to many, it shouldn’t be your only act of expressing your love toward others as well as yourself. The most powerful act of love you can do on a daily basis to replenish the energy of love is to express your gratitude. Now, I know you’ve heard about this, but have you really done it? Do you do it several times a day, and do you truly mean it? Anyone who feels appreciated naturally continues to act in a loving way, right? When you truly feel loved, you continue to be in a state of gratitude and spread that to others. 

So let’s say you are not in a relationship but truly want to be. Do you express gratitude for where you are right now in your life, or does a sense of desperation and maybe even lost hope live within you? When you take the time daily to express gratitude for the stage of life you are in, for all that you have learned, and for what you have experienced, you then pass that energy of gratitude to others who know how to accept it and give it back. 

Or let’s say you are in a relationship that is going through a rough patch but you still love this person and want it to work. First, extend gratitude toward yourself for recognizing that what you are experiencing is a chance to grow, regardless of the outcome. Next, start recognizing and being thankful for what your partner brings to the table, and start focusing on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. This may be tough, but it’s not impossible when you truly love someone.

It is through gratitude that we truly feel and experience love on a daily basis. Today is just as great as any other day to recognize and appreciate the love that should come from within, the love that holds all our truths and nourishes us whenever we recognize and appreciate it. This love doesn’t need another individual but only requires ourselves to love and blossom as a result of our daily check-ups with ourselves. When we feed ourselves nourishing words of encouragement and appreciation, and combat and heal what we struggle with, we mature in love for ourselves, which in turn helps us reach new levels of love with others. 

Today is your chance at love — today just like any other day. So start now by leaving yourself love notes around the house and spending time with yourself from the inside, feeding yourself thoughts and words of love. Then do this for others. 

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Tatiana Jerome, the author of Love Lost, Love Found: A Woman’s Guide to Letting Go of the Past and Finding New Love, turned her personal experience of healing from a breakup into not just a thriving online presence but a career counseling women and speaking at a variety of organizations. She lives in Florida. Visit her online at www.tatianajerome.com.

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If we had no belief, what would happen to us? Shouldn't we be very frightened of what might happen? If we had no pattern of action, based on a belief -either in God, or in communism, or in socialism, or in imperialism, or in some kind of religious formula, some dogma in which we are conditioned -we should feel utterly lost, shouldn't we? And is not this acceptance of a belief the covering up of that fear- the fear of being really nothing, of being empty? After all, a cup is useful only when it is empty; and a mind that is filled with beliefs, with dogmas, with assertions, with quotations, is really an uncreative mind; it is merely a repetitive mind. To escape from that fear - that fear of emptiness, that fear of loneliness, that fear of stagnation, of not arriving, not succeeding, not achieving, not being something, not becoming something - is surely one of the reasons, is it not, why we accept beliefs so eagerly and greedily? And, through acceptance of belief, do we understand ourselves? On the contrary. A belief, religious or political, obviously hinders the understanding of ourselves. It acts as a screen through which we look at ourselves. And can we look at ourselves without beliefs? If we remove these beliefs, the many beliefs that one has, is there anything left to look at? If we have no beliefs with which the mind has identified itself, then the mind, without identification, is capable of looking at itself as it is& - and then, surely there is the beginning of the understand of oneself.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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A vacation from distractions

I recently decided to spend the holidays away from my life. I packed my things and drove three and a half hours to Esalen to join Noah Levine and Vinny Ferraro on one of their seven-day mindfulness retreats. We all ate and slept there without leaving the property and embarked on a seven-day commitment to meditation and mindfulness. Esalen’s environment is a perfect one for looking at ourselves.

What do I mean by looking at yourself? I mean removing all your daily distractions: Netflix, Facebook, traffic, work, friends, enemies, food and more. We don’t even realize it, but we most often are paying attention to these things so we don’t have to look at ourselves.

Looking at ourselves is the most valuable thing we can do in this life, yet we spend 99 percent of our time staying busy instead.

Why do we do this? Because it’s scary to look at ourselves!

Whether it’s subtle or intense, all the anxiety, fear and heartache that we’ve acquired through our DNA or life experience is there under our daily routines. Our tendency is to ignore our pain, including deep emotional pain or even a headache. However, what the universe intended is quite the contrary. Pain wants to be seen, felt and heard.

Giving mindful attention to pain

When I was a child, I’d come to my father complaining of a headache. He’d ask me, “Where is it? What colour is it? How big is it?”

I’d struggle at first, but begin to answer his questions. “It’s here, it’s red and it’s as big as a baseball,” I’d say. He’d ask those three questions over and over, and before I knew it, I could no longer tell him the answers.

What I learned from him is that if I gave attention to the pain, it would gradually dissipate. We can apply this same technique to our deeper pains of heartache, fear or anxiety via mindfulness. No, you probably won’t be able to remove all of it within a few minutes like you would a headache, but over your lifetime, you’ll be able to soften its effect on you.

Through mindfulness, you’ll allow yourself space and time to be with your pain and your noisy brain that randomly fires thoughts at you.

By being with your pain, you’ll develop a deeper relationship with it. You’ll become more familiar with your feelings and welcome them with a friendly and loving demeanour. The genuine willingness to be with our pain with a loving, caring heart is an example of compassion.

Opening up my heart

Our seven days at Esalen, in an intimate group, essentially involved exercising this ability to be with our pain and our happiness. Both arise, back and forth, like the ebb and flow of the ocean.

I was surprised to see how quickly I could open my normally “shelled” heart during this week. We’re all guilty of closing our heart’s doors as a survival mechanism to get us through our days and even our lives. I realized, though, that if I just welcomed my sorrows, anxieties and fears with a warm, accepting heart, then I could build an intimate relationship with them.

It’s quite ironic. When we have a problem that needs to be solved or a question that needs to be answered in our lives, we tend to believe that thinking about it and analyzing the situation is how we’ll find answers. Yet, through my experiences with mindfulness, I’ve come to see that the opposite is true.

I’ve found that the most grand answers and pieces of wisdom come to me when I stop thinking. It’s as if the universe rewards me for being present and quieting my ego by speaking to me.

I would’ve loved to have had a notepad throughout all my years of Yoga classes. I can regularly access acquired wisdom and resolve obstacles in my life when I’m lying peacefully in savasana (the final lying-down pose at the end of my Hatha Yoga practice).

Why mindfulness isn’t always easy

You might be wondering why our ego controls our lives with constant loops of the same thoughts and anxieties, over and over in our heads, day in and day out. If this isn’t what Mother Nature intended, why aren’t we more naturally able to live mindfully by default?

The answer to this is quite simple. Our brains have vastly evolved since we developed our primitive fight-or-flight mechanism. Our ego isn’t hurting us intentionally; it simply believes that it’s doing its job to protect us. The problem is, since our brain is so much more advanced, our ego is unconsciously working overtime.

We actually are born into this world as naturally mindful beings. Kids naturally live in the moment, spending little time regretting their past. Have you ever watched a little kid’s response to a negative situation? They cry it out, but 10 minutes later, they don’t even think of it again.

Your next holiday?

The next time you have a week’s holiday, I suggest you explore the option of spending seven days away from your life at a mindfulness retreat. I look forward to hearing about the wisdom you’ve gained from your experience!

If you’ve been on a spiritual retreat recently, or even in the distant past, and would like to share anything you’ve learned, please leave your insights in the Comments section below.

Josh Jones has been a mindfulness and meditation practitioner for 20 years. He obtained a degree in Psychology at the University of San Francisco. He now dedicates his time to spreading the principles of mindfulness through guided meditations and writing, and has been committed to a Hatha Yoga practice for over a decade. He’s an active participant in meditation workshops around the Bay Area at locations such as Spirit Rock, Esalen, and more.

image: Sarah Stierch via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons BY 4.0)
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One of the things, it seems to me, that most of us eagerly accept and take for granted is the question of beliefs. I am not attacking beliefs. What we are trying to do is to find out why we accept beliefs; and if we can understand the motives, the causation of acceptance, then perhaps we may be able not only to understand why we do it, but also be free of it. One can see how political and religious beliefs, national and various other types of beliefs, do separate people, do create conflict, confusion, and antagonism -which is an obvious fact; and yet we are unwilling to give them up. There is the Hindu belief, the Christian belief, the Buddhist - innumerable sectarian and national beliefs, various political ideologies, all contending with one other, trying to convert one other. One can see, obviously, that belief is separating people, creating intolerance; is it possible to live without belief? One can find that out only if one can study oneself in relationship to a belief. Is it possible to live in this world without a belief - not change beliefs, not substitute one belief for another, but be entirely free from all beliefs, so that one meets life anew each minute? This, after all, is the truth: to have the capacity of meeting everything anew, from moment to moment, without the conditioning reaction of the past, so that there is not the cumulative effect which acts as a barrier between oneself and that which is.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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Hyderabad, Telangana, India, 12 February 2017 - A swift drive across Hyderabad this morning brought His Holiness the Dalai Lama to the site on Hitex Road, Madhapur, where the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics is to build its South Asia Hub. This will be a cooperative venture supported by the MIT based think tank and the Telangana State Government.

His Holiness and HE ESL Narasimhan, Governor of Telangana, unveiled the foundation stone together and then took part in a symbolic planting of saplings, which will grow on the campus.  They were joined in these observances by Deputy Chief Minister, Mohammad Mahmood Ali and Minister of Industries, MA&UD and IT Kalvankutla Taraka Rama Rao. The Governor remarked that peace is commonly invoked in Hindu ceremonies. His Holiness agreed and suggested that prayer also needs to be augmented by action such as training the mind.

At the Hitex Open Arena nearby Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi, founder of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values greeted an audience of more than 1000 in the marquee and another 15000 online. He requested the Deputy Chief Minister, Mohammad Mahmood Ali to formally welcome His Holiness and then invited KT Rama Rao to introduce him. His Holiness began his address in his customary way.

“I always begin by greeting an audience as brothers and sisters, because I consider myself to be just one among the 7 billion human beings who I view as brothers and sisters. The way we are born and the way we die is the same whether we are kings, queens, spiritual leaders or beggars. This is why having a sense of the oneness of humanity is important. Wherever I go and whoever I talk to I try to promote this idea in an effort to break down barriers between us. Whenever I can I smile which mostly prompts others to smile in return, making us both happy.

“Although we are physically, mentally and emotionally the same, there are differences between us. I’m Tibetan, I’m Buddhist and I’m the Dalai Lama, but if I emphasize these differences it sets me apart and raises barriers with other people. What we need to do is to pay more attention to the ways in which we are the same as other people.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking at the HITEX Open Arena in Hyderabad, Telangana, India on February 12, 2017.
Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

“Most of the problems we face we create ourselves by stressing secondary differences of nationality, religious faith and so forth. How sad it is that today religion is becoming a cause of conflict and violence. When people are being killed in other parts of the world, we can’t remain complacent, we have to think of how to ensure the well-being of these suffering people.

“Differences of nationality and ideology that were important in the early 20th century seem less powerful today. In Europe, having fought and killed each other for generations, after the Second World War the European Union was created. My physics tutor von Weizsäcker told me that in his youth in every French and German eye the other was an enemy. But, by the 1990s, he said that had all changed. Recognising that nothing good comes from the destruction of war, people had realized that it’s better to live together. It is this spirit of the European Union that I admire and that we need to see adopted in other parts of the world—in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

“In the long run I look forward to a global union and a demilitarized world. As long as human beings are involved there will be some problems, but we need to learn to deal with them through dialogue without resort to the use of force. This will entail developing moral principles because it won’t be achieved on the basis of mistrust and jealousy.”

His Holiness observed that ahimsa is a longstanding Indian tradition that is also not based on fear, but on confidence and compassion. An example is the way religious harmony flourishes here. Indigenous faiths like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism thrive, but the flourishing alongside them of religions from elsewhere indicates real tolerance and mutual respect. Zoroastrianism came from Persia. There are barely 100,000 Parsis in their community in Bombay and yet they live without fear—this is India, he said. Likewise, Jews came and created a community in Cochin. Christians and Muslims came too. Now, Indian Muslims form the second largest Muslim population in the world, larger even than in Pakistan. His Holiness remarked that of course occasional problems crop up, but otherwise India is the only country in the world where all major religions live together in mutual respect.


Members of the audience listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the HITEX Open Arena in Hyderabad, Telangana, India on February 12, 2017. Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
Comparing the ancient civilizations of Egypt, China and the Indus Valley, His Holiness suggested that the Indus Valley ultimately gave rise to the greatest number of thinkers and varied schools of thought, including Buddhism. Ancient Indian psychology with its profound understanding of the workings of the mind and emotions has much to teach us today.

“More than 30 years ago I entered into discussions with modern scientists that have allowed Buddhists and contemplatives to learn more about the physical world, but also for the scientists to learn about the mind and emotions. Ahimsa—non-violence motivated by karuna—compassion is a way of dealing with destructive emotions. For more than 1000 years we Tibetans have kept these traditions that flourished at Nalanda alive. Modern Indians today have a special opportunity to combine modern education with the values and insights of this ancient Indian heritage. Many young people are already doing so. This Center for Ethics with its various programs and activities is making a contribution in this direction. I appreciate my friend here and the State Government for supporting it.

“The Center is named after the Dalai Lama, but I am just one student of the Nalanda Tradition, a student of Nagarjuna. Nevertheless, when I visit other countries I often tell people I meet that I’m a messenger of ancient Indian knowledge—a son of India. I justify this because my mind is filled with Nalanda thought, while my body has been nourished for 58 years by Indian rice, dal and chapatis.”
Answering the audience’s questions, His Holiness explained that since the majority of the world’s population continue to live in poverty we need to pursue material development. However, this pursuit needs to be coupled with inner or mental development. He reported that not only have scientists established that basic human nature is compassionate, but they have found that constant anger and fear undermines our immune system, while cultivating a compassionate mind strengthens it. He declared that when a significant number of people have no interest in religion, attempts to promote universal values have to take a secular approach.

A questioner who noted the role of education in fostering inner values asked about the role of parents. His Holiness told him that science has shown the positive effects of simple physical contact between mother and child, but what is additionally important is that parents shower their children with affection.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama answering questions from the audience during his talk at the HITEX Open Arena in Hyderabad, Telangana, India on February 12, 2017.
Photo by Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL

When asked how to prepare for death, His Holiness replied that to some extent it depends on what you believe. He said that if you believe in a loving God, thinking of him, his love and compassion can be helpful as you die. For a Buddhist it would be useful to keep the Buddha’s main message of compassion and things’ lack of independent existence in mind. He added that there are also ways of visualizing the process of death with its eight stages of dissolution in order to prepare for it when it takes place, ending finally with the mind of clear light.

“The best preparation for death,” His Holiness continued, “depends on the way you live, avoiding doing others harm and helping them wherever you can. If you do that you’ll be able to die without any sense of regret. So a peaceful death depends very much on how you’ve lived your life.”

Another young woman wanted to know which is the more effective way to train the mind, cultivating concentration or analytical meditation. His Holiness was forthright in his praise of analysis. He reported the way he does it himself. He analyses his body, mind and feelings. He thinks about impermanence and momentary change. He considers how past, present and future constantly shift. Past and future only exist in relation to the present, but the present is apparently impossible to tie down. He mentioned that he reflects on his body and that it consists of parts—head, hands, feet and trunk and asks himself whether any of the parts by themselves are his the body.

Finally, the moderator asked His Holiness to tell him how he manages to look so young. His Holiness retorted, “That’s my secret,” but then explained how he consistently sleeps for nine hours a night. When wakes up he engages in 4 hours of meditation which contributes to his inner peace. Sleep and meditation, he suggested, contribute to inner peace and inner strength. “If you choose, you too can do it.”

Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi wound up the session with a vote of thanks. First of all he thanked His Holiness for coming and then thanked the many people who had made this inaugural session a success: members of his team and the Government of Telangana in particular.

His Holiness attended a sumptuous official lunch as the guest of the Deputy Chief Minister, following which he drove to Rajiv Gandhi International Airport to fly to Amritsar, from where he will drive to Dharamsala tomorrow morning.

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You believe in God, and another does not believe in God, so your beliefs separate you from each other. Belief throughout the world is organized as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, and so it divides man from man. We are confused, and we think that through belief we shall clear the confusion; that is, belief is superimposed on the confusion, and we hope that confusion will thereby be cleared away. But belief is merely an escape from the fact of confusion; it does not help us to face and to understand the fact but to run away from the confusion in which we are. To understand the confusion, belief is not necessary, and belief only acts as a screen between ourselves and our problems. So, religion, which is organized belief, becomes a means of escape from what is, from the fact of confusion. The man who believes in God, the man who believes in the hereafter, or who has any other form of belief, is escaping from the fact of what he is. Do you not know those who believe in God, who do puja, who repeat certain chants and words, and who in their daily life are dominating, cruel, ambitious, cheating, dishonest? Shall they find God? Are they really seeking God? Is God to be found through repetition of words, through belief? But such people believe in God, they worship God, they go to the temple every day, they do everything to avoid the fact of what they are - and such people you consider respectable because they are yourself.

J. Krishnamurti, The Book of Life    
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